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One little BHIM set to change India: Your thumb is your bank now, says PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than 50 days after announcing his demonetization move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched the mobile app BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) which he said would enable easier digital transactions for the common man.The app—an updated version of UPI (Unified Payment Interface) and USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data)—can be downloaded from the Android app store.Dedicating the new app to Dr BR Ambedkar, the Prime Minister said that Ambedkar had always worked for the poor. “Very few people know that Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar who gave us the Constitution, was a great economist and had even wrote a thesis on the Indian rupee…RBI was born out of Ambedkar’s thesis,” said Modi, adding that the app will empower small traders, tribals, and farmers.Modi also felicitated winners of the Lucky Grahak Yojana at the DigiDhan Mela in Talkatora stadium. The event saw a crowd of more than 5,000 people and around 65 stalls of banks, e-wallets and private players.The PM said the BHIM app can be used on any phone. “There is no need for Internet connectivity, one only needs a thumb,” said Modi adding, “There was a time when an illiterate was called angutha chaap. Now, the times have changed. Your thumb is your bank now. It has become your identity now.”Taking a dig at the Opposition, Modi said, “Look at the newspapers or video clips from three years ago; the news was all about what we had lost in scams. However, today, it is about what has come back or what is the gain?””Over the 100-day period, several families will be given the prizes. These schemes were launched as a Christmas gift to benefit poor,” Modi said reiterating that the mega draw will take place on April 14, the birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.He said that India can once again bring back its past and become the sone ki chidiya (bird of gold) with an increased digital connectivity.”The day was not far off when the cash-based transaction will turn completely digital,” he emphasised. For the first time, India united to remove its own shortcomings, he said.Thanking the media for highlighting digital payment issues, he asked people to at least do five digital transactions from January 1, 2017.Meanwhile, several people attending the event said they are yet to open a bank account.”I don’t have an account. My children withdraw money for me whenever needed. I just wanted to meet Modi to highlight some of my problems,” said Malviya Nagar resident Gulab.The exhibitors, however, said the fair has given a common ground to the visitors to learn and operate on the different modes of digital payment.An exhibitor from the NPCI stall said they have received several enquiries from visitors, especially from the lower middle class strata, keen on operating the Aadhaar-enabled payment system and UPI as ways of digital transactions.”The best part is they could get an instant bank account here at the fair and get started with digital payments,” he said.

JKLF chairman Yasin Malik detained before protest march in Pulwama

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>JKLF chairman Yasin Malik was on Friday detained at Pulwama as he led his supporters to stage a protest march against Jammu and Kashmir government’s decision to issue identity certificates to West Pakistani Refugees.Malik was detained along with several of his supporters.They were taken into preventive custody, a police official said.Separatists groups had called for protests on Friday against the government decision to issue identity certificates to West Pakistan Refugees living in the state since partition in 1947.The state government has decided to issue identity cards to the refugees and had to issue clarification after protests from opposition parties and separatists against the move. Initially, reports had said the opposition was against the government move to issue domicile certificates, but the state government said it was issuing identity certificates.Other political organisations, including BJP and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, have slammed separatists for opposing the issuance of certificates to the refugees.The refugees, settled in Jammu and Kashmir, are citizens of India and have the right to vote in parliamentary polls. However, they are not permanent residents of the state in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. They do not enjoy voting rights to the state assembly and local bodies.

Jammu and Kashmir: Yasin Malik detained ahead of protest march

Srinagar: JKLF chairman Yasin Malik was on Friday detained at Pulwama as he led his supporters to stage a protest march against Jammu and Kashmir government’s decision to issue identity certificates to West Pakistani Refugees.

Separatist Yasin Malik. AFP

Separatist Yasin Malik. AFP

Malik was detained along with several of his supporters. They were taken into preventive custody, a police official said.

Separatists groups had called for protests on Friday against the government decision to issue identity certificates to West Pakistan Refugees living in the state since partition in 1947.

The state government has decided to issue identity cards to the refugees and had to issue clarification after protests from opposition parties and separatists against the move.

Initially, reports had said the opposition was against the government move to issue domicile certificates, but the state government said it was issuing identity certificates.

Other political organisations, including BJP and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, have slammed separatists for opposing the issuance of certificates to the refugees.

The refugees, settled in Jammu and Kashmir, are citizens of India and have the right to vote in parliamentary polls.

However, they are not permanent residents of the state in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. They do not enjoy voting rights to the state assembly and local bodies.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 18:50 IST

PM Modi launches BHIM app, dedicated to Ambedkar, ahead of UP elections

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched the Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app at the Digi Dhan mela in the Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi and stressed on the importance of technology and digital transactions.

He said the BHIM app had been named after Babasaheb Ambedkar. “Launch of BHIM app is significant. In addition to his role in making of the Constitution, Dr Ambedkar was also a great economist,” he said.

image: PIBimage: PIB

Image: PIB

The naming of the app may also be an attempt to placate the Dalits, a voter base which the Bharatiya Janata Party has been fast loosing hold on after Rohit Vemula’s suicide last year. The timing of the launch is also important as it comes just before the Uttar Pradesh elections.

Notably, the poor was the focus of the prime minister’s speech at the launch today.

“This is the treasury of the poor to digital payments,” the prime minister said adding “Technology is not the treasure of the wealthy, but power given to the poor.”

“The day is not far when the entire country’s trade will be done through this BHIM app,” said the prime minister. “BHIM app will be made so strong in the next two weeks that you won’t even need a mobile phone or smart phone, just your thumbprint.”

“Through Bhim, I’m giving the people the best view of the good times to come in 2017,” said the prime minister.

Modi also talked about the other initiatives launched by the government and said that the Lucky Grahak Yojana and DigiDhan Vyapar Yojana were “Christmas gifts” to the nation. He also said the government plans to reward those who used digi-payment options.

“There will be a mega draw on 14 April, the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, where rewards will be given to several people,” he said.

Taking a dig at the Opposition leaders who had criticised Modi’s call for a ‘less-cash society’ after demonetisation, Modi said, “There are some people who begin their day with disappointment. There are no options available for such people…When I talk about e-payment, some people doubt me and think I’m trying to bring something new,” Modi said, adding that technology like that had existed for a long time.

Modi also took a dig at the previous UPA government and said that earlier, people used to talk about the money lost due to scams like the coal scam and 2G scam. “But now, people are talking about the money which the country gained.”

Modi also thanked the media for asking questions post demonetisation. “In the last 50 days, media also questioned the government on how the country will become digital when poor don’t have mobile. I am thankful to the media as this has helped government formulate schemes and take up initiatives to empower the poor,” ANI quoted the prime minister as saying.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 17:49 IST

Digi Dhan Mela: PM Modi launches Bhim app, now only thumb impression needed for secure digital transaction

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking at the Digi Dhan Mela at the Talkatora Stadium on Friday, PM Modi announced a new BHIM App. PM Modi said the Government of India had announced schemes to reward small traders and customers who use digital payments. He said: “On the day of Christmas, GoI announced schemes to reward small traders and customers who resort to digital payments. These two initiatives, the Lucky Grahak Yojana and DigiDhan Vyapar Yojana are a Christmas gift to the nation. Prizes are given to those who make transactions of more than Rs 50 and less than Rs 3000, so that the poor can win. Over the 100 day period, several families will be given the prizes. These schemes were launched to benefit poor.”He also said: “The mega draw will take place on 14th April, the birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Launch of ‘BHIM’ App is significant. In addition to his role in making of the Constitution, Dr Ambedkar was also a great economist. Dr Ambedkar’s thesis offers significant insights of various economic issues.”He added: “Ek zamana tha unpadh ko angutha-chaap kaha jata tha, ab waqt aisa hai aap hi ka angutha aapki pehchan aur bank. In 2 weeks, will make one more accomplishment, it’s security is being worked on. It will empower BHIM; you’ll only require your thumb to pay.”He went on to add that some people were pessimists and he couldn’t help them. Hitting out at the opposition, PM Modi said: “Ek neta ne kaha khoda dungar aur nikaali chuhiya; Mujhe toh chuhiya hi nikaalni thi, wohi toh sab kha jaati hai chori se. ” Speaking about the media, he said: “In last 50 days, media while covering me, also questioned the Govt on how will the country become digital when poor don’t have mobile. I am thankful to the media as this has helped Govt formulate schemes and take up initiatives to empower the poor.”He further said: “Aane wale dino mei media bahut seva kar sakta hai; Media ’17 mei poochega ki do-do mobile phones lekar ghoom rahe ho aur cashless nahi ho? Yeh desh apne andar ki burai ko khatam karne ke liye ek hua, itna kasth jhelne ke liye aage aaye, yahi humare desh ki takat hai.”Prime Minister Modi recently announced two award schemes named ‘Lucky Grahak Yojana’ for retail consumers and ‘Digi Dhan Vapar Yojana’ for small businesses to encourage digital payments during his 27th edition of ‘Mann ki Baat’ address.The winners will get a minimum of Rs. 1,000 through a lucky draw – while the winners will be chosen on daily and weekly basis under the Lucky Grahak Yojana, merchants who have won under the Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana will be announced every week.The first ‘Digi Dhan’ mela (fair) was organised in Gurugram, Haryana, on Monday and was inaugurated by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

Nine months after Sreehari Aney’s resignation, Maharashtra Cabinet approves Rohit Deo as next advocate general

Mumbai: The BJP-led Maharashtra government has chosen acting Advocate General Rohit Deo as its next Advocate General, nine months after his predecessor Sreehari Aney quit the post following a huge row triggered by his espousal of statehood for the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.

A meeting of the state Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, recommended elevation of Deo to the AG’s post to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, a senior official said.

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

Aney had courted controversy by advocating statehood for Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, which was vehemently opposed by the ruling partner Shiv Sena.

The Sena had then seized on the issue to target the BJP, which, as matter of policy, favoured smaller states, despite Fadnavis asserting that bifurcation of Maharashtra was not on his government’s agenda.

The government had recently filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court, saying the post will be filled by the end of this month.

The Division Bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai was hearing a petition filed by Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt, urging the court to direct the state to appoint an A-G under Article 165 of the Constitution.

The court had criticised the state for not complying with the deadline of 23 December and had adjourned the matter to 9 January.

It had earlier observed that constitutional and statutory functions were suffering due to the non-appointment of the AG and has hurt the cause of justice.

On 18 November, 2014, Sunil Manohar was appointed as the AG, but he resigned on 9 June, 2015. On 11 June, 2015, additional Solicitor General Anil Singh was given the additional post of acting A-G. On 14 October, 2015, Aney was appointed as the AG, and he resigned on 22 March, 2016.

Reacting to the decision, Dutt claimed that the government was compelled to take a decision on the matter after he moved the high court.

In a tweet, Dutt said, “The government has conceded my demand and finally appointed Acting AG as AG.”

“However, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis needs to answer why he waited for nine months to appoint Acting AG as the new AG,” said Dutt.

“Maharashtra Chief Minister speaks of good governance but his indecisiveness reflects lack of governance! If acting AG Rohit Deo only was to be made the AG, why the government had waited for 280 days?” he asked in another tweet.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 14:07 IST

Rohit Deo is the full-time Advocate General of Maharashtra now

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It took eight months and a strongly worded High court order for the Devendra Fadnavis government to finalise the name of Adv Rohit Deo as the advocate general of Maharashtra. Deo’s name has been recommended to the Governor on Tuesday by the cabinet. The government had told the Bombay High Court on Friday that it would appoint the AG by 30 December. Congress MLC Sanjay dutt had dragged the Fadnavis government to the court three months back over its prolonged indecision at the cost of state’s welfare. Deo is currently the acting advocate general and has been handling all cases of the government since Shreehari Aney quit in April this year following a controversial statement supporting separate VIdarbha state. Dutt said, “Even as Maharashtra Govt concedes to my demand & finally appoints Advocate General, CM needs to answer why he waited for 9 months to appoint acting AG as AG!” Dutt added that Maha CM owes apology to Maha People following HC order in my petition stating that the appointment of an Acting Advocate General is Not Constitutionally valid.HC order through my petition shall ensure that No Govt will falter on appointing Advocate-General as per Article 165 of Constitution of India.

Kerala: Appointment of commission to re-examine UAPA cases sought

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Association of Muslim Scholars of India has urged the Centre to set up a commission to re-examine the cases registered under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against “innocent people” in the guise of national security.”The Centre should appoint a commission to re-examine the cases filed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) that have been imposed on innocent people under the guise of national security,”General Secretary of the Association, Kanthapuram AP Abubacker Musliyar said. He was delivering the keynote address at the international Milad Conference by ‘Jamia Markaz,’ here on December 25. He further said, the freedom of religion and freedom to believe and practice one’s faith is one of the cornerstones provided in the Constitution.Any attempt to curb this basic right should be fought by all means, a release from Markaz’s media wing quoted him as saying. “We will oppose tooth and nail every attempt to deny the citizens, comprising those from multi-faith communities, the right to live according to their religious convictions and ideals and also carry out a nation-wide system of unified civil code,” Musliyar added.A host of Muslim scholars representing different countries and international associations attended the conference.

BJP not doing politics on religion but justice & honesty: Rajnath Singh in Assam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said people have accepted BJP as a party of their own by electing it to power at the Centre with thumping majority even though opposition parties had made allegations in the past that it practised politics over religion.”There was a big allegation that BJP used to do politics over religion or over communalism. Now that allegation has gone away. Had it been a party of doing politics over religion, then the 1.25 billion people of the country would not have elected to power with a clear majority,” he said addressing a meeting of the BJP’s Assam unit here. Singh, a senior BJP leader, said the party never practiced politics over religion nor did over communalism but on the issue of justice and honesty.”We are a party of doing politics over justice and honesty. We are a party which takes everyone along and wants to march forward with everyone’s cooperation,” he said. The Home Minister said BJP’s politics is centred around humanity – irrespective of whether someone is Hindu, Muslim, Christian or from any other religion. Describing Indo-Bangladesh agreement on land-swap as a very significant pact for bilateral relations, Singh said after the exchange of ‘enclaves’ along the border, Dhaka has been supporting India in every international forums.”Be is on terrorism or be it on any other issues, Bangladesh has been supporting India in every international forum ever since we have completed the process of exchange of enclaves between India and Bangladesh.Singh said security of the more than 200-kilometre-long Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam was a priority for the BJP government and it will be completely sealed in next one and a half years. “We are committed to sealing the 223.7-km Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam and the process is on. It is expected to be completed within the next year and a half,” he said.The Home Minister said Bangladesh is a neighbouring country and India shares a good and warm relations and wants to continue and remain committed to in the future. The Home Minister, without referring to the issues of illegal migration and granting of citizenship to Hindu refugees, assured the people of Assam that BJP was committed to protect the interests of the indigenous population of the state as per Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.”We are committed to Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and will protect it even if we have to amend the Constitution,” he said. Referring to the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Singh said the process is underway and the state government should complete it soon. Singh said the Centre will make no compromise on the issue of insurgency as he claimed that violence has considerably come down in the state. “If any people or group have any grievances, problems or issues, we are ready to talk to them… We are ready to embrace them and talk. But if there is violence, there will be no compromise,” he said.The Home Minister claimed people have supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “bold step” to demonetise high-value currency notes and his fight against black money and corruption. “The Prime Minister’s bold step of demonetization has been welcomed by the people of the country and we are grateful for that,” he said. The Prime Minister’s fight against black money and corruption was “beyond any doubt” and the people of the country have expressed their gratitude by supporting him despite facing initial difficulties, the home minister said.”People did face initial difficulties after demonetization was announced, but no one has questioned the intention of the Prime Minister. “People had to wait for hours in queues outside ATMs, but when told they were facing difficulties, many replied, ‘When our jawans our dying on the borders to protect our country against enemies, then why can’t we stand in queues for a few hours.’ This is the spirit of our people,” he said.Modi on November 8 had announced to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, and said new notes of denominations Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 will be issued in their place, leading to a rush among people to exchange their notes at banks and withdraw new notes from ATMs.

SC slams PIL opposing Justice Khehar’s elevation as Chief Justice of India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court termed as “virtually infructuous” a petition filed by a group of lawyers opposing the elevation of Justice J S Khehar as next the Chief Justice of India, observing that the President of India has already issued a notification in this regard.Since the notification appointing Justice J S Khehar as the next Chief Justice of India has already been issued, the petition has virtually become infructuous,” a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and L Nageswara Rao said.”There is nothing left in this petition as the President of India has issued the notification appointing Justice Khehar as the next CJI. Nothing is left in this now. If you want, we can allow you to withdraw the petition,” the bench said.However, the brief hearing witnessed an altercation among the members of the lawyers’ body as its vice president urged the apex court to list the matter for hearing on December 30, while the others urged the bench for liberty to file a plea afresh. To this, the bench observed, “You are fighting among yourselves”. The vice president of the petitioner, National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms, requested the bench that there was something which they wanted to argue and he would call for a general body meeting of the members to decide on these aspects.”But nothing remains in this petition now,” the bench said. Some members of the lawyers’ body told the bench that there was no denial that the petition has become infructuous, so they should be given a liberty to file a fresh plea. The bench noted in its order that the notification appointing Justice Khehar as the next CJI has been issued on December 19.On December 19, President Pranab Mukherjee had cleared the name of Justice Khehar as the next CJI. The present CJI Justice T S Thakur demits office on January 3 next year.In its plea, the lawyers’ body has said that instead of Justice Khehar, Justice J Chelameshwar, who is now the fourth senior-most judge in the apex court, should be elevated as he had given a dissenting view when the National Judicial Appointments Commission was struck down by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Khehar.

Madras HC quashes appointment of 11 members of TNPSC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Madras High Court quashed the appointment of 11 people as members of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC), holding that the process was “deeply flawed” and conducted without following any transparent process. A batch of petitions including one by TKS Elangovan of DMK had been filed challenging the appointment of these 11 members in a hurried manner by the AIADMK government.The vacancies for the posts had arisen from 2013 when members completed their tenure and demitted office and the last one demitted office on January 31, 2016.These posts were suddenly filled by a government order, dated the same day (Sunday/non-working day), in anticipation of the election notification for the state Assembly polls, which were ultimately held on May 16.The petitioners claimed that the Commission was sought to be packed with party loyalists “having no eminence and not possessing the requisite merit and abilities to function in the capacity as members of the Public Service Commission”. The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, in its 108-page judgment, said, “We are unhesitatingly of the view and conclude that the process of appointment of the eleven members of the State Public Service Commission was deeply flawed without following any transparent process and defeating the very constitutional scheme for such appointment, the result of which is natural, i.e., all these appointments are quashed.” The bench observed, “It is trite to say that from the very inception qualification of high moral values for the person recruited to the administrative service forming the very backbone of the nation was emphasised.””It is the selection based on merits. If this is the principle, then persons who are Chairman or Members of the Public Service Commission have to be equally, if not more, of such competence and high moral values as they are the ones who are conducting the selection process for the Administrative Service Officers.”The government, on its part, submitted that right to make appointment to the State Public Service Commission under Article 316 of the Constitution is left to the state government and the court ought not to interfere with the same, especially as there are no charges or allegations against any member. Quashing the appointments, the bench in its order said: “There was no comparative evaluation of merits, qualifications, administrative experience, competence or integrity of the pool of candidates. “The process was completed in one day, on 29.3.2013, and the file was placed before the Governor, who approved the proposal on 31.3.2013. No character or antecedent verification was really done and the issue which arose for consideration was whether the state could have said to have applied its mind to the relevant facts, i.e., suitability, competence and integrity of the candidate.”Thus, where the deliberative process suffered from constitutional infirmity of being arbitrary, the appointment had to be struck down, it said.”In our opinion, this appointing process or lack of it was on account of a misconception that the appointment to the post of members of the Public Service Commission was part of the spoils system based on the patronage of the state government and not requiring men who are ‘independent’.” “This lack of process appears to have escaped the attention of the Governor himself while making the appointments,” the bench said.Referring to Supreme Court judgments, the bench said: “It is an admitted position that there was nothing put in public domain to indicate that persons who were interested in this post could give material in support of their candidature and on our query, we were informed that the bio-datas may have been received from persons in normal course or may have been called for specifically from persons.”The bench referred to an apex court judgment which stated that the appointment to the PSC could not be equated with an appointment to a purely administrative position and in the context of appointment of a Chief Secretary or a DGP the question of Chief Minister of the state government having confidence in such a person may be a requirement.The bench said, “This would not arise in the appointment of a Chairman or Member of the Public Service Commission, as the Commission does not function at the pleasure of the Chief Minister or the state government, but has a fixed tenure and the oath of allegiance is to the Constitution of India and not to the Chief Minister.””In the case on hand, the bio-data alone was examined. Nothing was found to show that any background check was carried out to ascertain whether the Chairman appointed had come in for any adverse notice in a judicial proceeding or any police inquiry. It was, thus, held that inbuilt constitutional checks had, unfortunately, broken down.”

Kodava protests in Karnataka: Warring factions must unite and speak in one voice

The Kodavas in Karnataka are up in arms again.

On the back of reports that there was a nude protest on 7 December, by some tribals over the eviction of 577 families from the Devamacchi Reserve Forest in Diddalli, in Kodagu district, which has however been denied both by an embarrassed government and activists alike, activists have now vowed to continue their protests until the tribal dwellings are made permanent and property documents handed over to them.

But wait, these protests are not supported by the Codava National Council (CNC), which has been spearheading much of the community’s cause. The president of CNC, NU Nachappa told Firstpost, “I don’t want to comment, they are not localites, some 10 days back they came from outside Coorg for plantation work, not for Kodava plantation work but for Consolidated (Coffee) Tata company work. And some politicians took them and dropped them in the forest.”

Nachappa says,“We are the original inhabitants and tribals of this land. Some 10 years back so many came from other states, like Kerala, and they keep on coming, they’re not tribals. Bangladeshis are also there now, they too are claiming they’re tribals. We’re not against anybody, we want to prove our identity, otherwise, we will vanish from this land. I don’t want to comment because they’re outsiders, they’re not inherent settlers of the forest.”

On 7 December, several families living in huts in the forest were evicted and their huts razed by forest officials, on grounds that this was reserved forest limits. A secret video shot by a local had surfaced on television channels and social media on Sunday about the nude protest during the eviction. Deccan Herald reported that eight persons, including tribal leader Appaji had been arrested for indecent protests. after forest, revenue and police officials cleared about five acres of forest land at Diddalli.

On Sunday, calling it ‘Sankalp’ day, activists, human rights commission members, tribal rights awareness panel members and local leaders protested outside the Ashrama School near the forest in Diddalli, in Kodagu, where the tribals are currently staying. Among the leaders supporting their cause, was also senior journalist and activist, Gauri Lankesh.
Firstpost reached out to Gowri Lankesh,“Nachappa claims the protestors are not tribals at all? Your comments?”

File image of Kodava Protests. Wikimedia CommonsFile image of Kodava Protests. Wikimedia Commons

File image of Kodava Protests. Wikimedia Commons

Gauri Lankesh, “People who had set up hutments belong to Jenu, Kuruba and Yerava communities. They are on the scheduled list. It is idiotic of Nachappa to say they are not tribals at all.”
While the two warring factions stand divided over the very nature of the tribals who were evicted, the Karnataka government has refused to budge, saying that the evicted tribals would be rehabilitated in any other area, but in the reserve forest, where the families had built their huts. Kodagu district in-charge minister MR Seetharam told the media that the tribals would be rehabilitated soon, and if there was any slip-up by the forest officials, action would be taken.

Meanwhile, there were press reports that that coffee planters were behind the evictions of the tribals from their settlement in Diddalli, as the coffee planters wanted them to move back to line houses where labourers of coffee plantations live. Deccan Herald reported that the tribals had earlier lived in these line houses in the estates at Virajpet, Balele, Kutta, Gonikoppa and Siddapura and paid poor wages and had moved out over bad working conditions.

When Firstpost asked Nachappa about these media reports, he said, “No, no, they (the plantations) are not dependent upon them. Nowadays, Assamese and Bangladeshi labour are coming. All this is bogus created by the Maoists. There are plenty of labourers now, agencies are there, daily they are coming – after 2/3 years, they claim they’re original inhabitants.” He added, “But coffee planters are not Kodavas, 60 per cent are owned by North Indian business tycoons, Burma Chettiars and Kerala people and Reddys, they all have 2/3 acres properties. We continued our struggle and made complaints…we Kodavas may not have property, our population is living in a compact area. They are worried, they want to destroy our identity. They want to de-populate Kodavas and re-populate others.”

When Firstpost posed the same question to Gauri Lankesh, she said, “My sources say yes some estate owners who want cheap and bonded labourers are behind the tribal hutments being destroyed.”

This is not the first time that the Kodavas have been in the news. Only last week, according to a Times of India report, the Chief minister Siddaramaiah had directed the social welfare department officials to discontinue the ongoing ethnographic and socio-economic survey, which had been undertaken to check if the Kodava community qualified for tribal status. The survey was stopped in the wake of former MLC and advocate AK Subbaiah seeking the CM’s intervention, stating, “Kodavas don’t need any tribal status. They are way forward in terms of socio-economic parameters and literacy. They cannot be compared to tribals like Kadu Kuruba and Hakki-Pikki, among others.”

This was a strange move by the Karnataka government as the survey had been undertaken after representation from different quarters. This included All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson and leader Brijesh Kalappa, also the legal advisor to the CM. Deccan Herald reported as early as March 2016, that Kalappa while demanding tribal status for Kodavas had said, “It was not just a spur of the moment to seek any benefit, but the culture and tradition practised by Kodavas are akin to tribals in the State. Earlier, especially post-independence, Kodava IPS officers were in large numbers. Now, the number of such officials in civil service has dwindled. Owing to lack of reservation, Kodavas are not able to get their due share in such top service oriented jobs. So, if Kodavas are considered as tribes and reservation facility is extended, they can benefit from it.”
Even AICC general secretary Oscar Fernandes had joined his voice to the demand of the CNC. In fact, as far back as 2011, the UPA government had directed the then BJP government to take up the survey following petitions by the community.

The CNC’s demands has a long history of 22 years of trying to get the rights of the Kodavas enshrined under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The Hindu reported in 2013 that among the CNC’s demands were ethno-linguistic-tribal-minority status for the Kodavas; ‘Kodava thakk’ (language) in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution; political reservation on the lines of the Anglo Indians; and formation of a Codava Land Autonomous Region.

Asked about the stopping of the ethnographic survey, Nachappa told Firstpost, “At the age of 27 I started this movement and have been fighting this for 26 years. Subbaiah has become a spokesman for major communities in Karnataka, they want to impose hegemony on us. Karnataka is not a homogenous state, it’s a heterogenous state… In his entire political career, he has not done any good either for Kodavas or for the entire country. He’s only interested in creating rift between communities…I am fighting peacefully for my Constitution and fundamental rights. We are a different ethnic group and minority group, it’s our constitutional duty to give space to our community.”

Stating that “Kodavas are hospitable people, lovable people, not more than a lakh, I am approaching the UNHRC…our movement is a peaceful movement, under the Indian charter and Indian constitution, we are asking that the (Kodava) identity, historical continuity, ancestral property, entire language and culture should be protected,” he added, “My organisation is the sole and irreplaceable voice of the Kodava world.”

When Firstpost asked Gowri Lankesh what the real issue was, she said, “The real issue here is the utter disdain on the part of the government and administration regarding the lives of poor tribals. The same government and district administration does not raise a finger against Nachappa who illegally entered protected forest area twice to erect memorials for the alleged ‘thousands’ of Kodavas who were butchered by Tipu Sultan. But when poor tribals who seek freedom from bonded labour set up hutments the powers that be unleash JCBs on them. By doing so they have proved that they are only anti poor, they have shown that they are working at the behest of feudal landlords.”

The population of Kodagu district is around five lakhs, of which Kodavas are reported to be only around 65,000 people. So, any division in their ranks is not going to help the Kodava cause, but will only undermine their struggle. The warring factions need to come together to represent the Kodava community, which has contributed immensely to the country, with several famous Kodava names populating the armed forces, civil services, sports, journalism and literature.

While the jury is still out on whether the 577 families who were evicted from the Devamacchi Reserve Forest in Diddalli, in Kodagu district were tribals or squatters – it’s time for the two warring factions to sit across the table and sort out their issues and speak in one voice.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 11:09 IST

PDP-BJP govt allowing step-by step erosion of Article 370: Omar Abdullah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Supreme Court held that Jammu and Kashmir has “no vestige” of sovereignty outside Indian Constitution and its own statute which is subordinate, Omar Abdullah on Sunday hit out at PDP-led government saying its “weak” legal defence of state’s special status was “alarming” as it was allowing “step-by-step erosion” of Article 370.Asking the state government to come clean on the issue, the NC leader targeted the PDP, alleging that it seems it has decided to facilitate the “long-cherished desire” of its alliance partner BJP “to circumvent and subvert the Constitution of the state” and attributes of Article 370.”The state government’s weak legal defence of various sensitive attributes of the state’s special status is alarming. The deliberate callousness shown by the state government indicated the tacit connivance of PDP in allowing the step-by-step erosion of Article 370 through a series of politically patronised cases and litigation. The PDP-BJP Government should come clean on its stand on this vital issue that could have far reaching implications for the State,” the former Chief Minister said in Srinagar.
ALSO READ Sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir within Constitution of India: Supreme CourtThe opposition National Conference (NC) working president said the state government’s counsel in the Supreme Court has made it evident that the state government prima facie “does not oppose” the application of the SARFAESI Act in Jammu and Kashmir.”This has far reaching implications as the application of the SARFAESI Act to J-K was debatable in the context of Article 370 of the Constitution of India as also the provisions of the J-K Transfer of Property Act. Instead of highlighting these arguments and points of view, the state government’s counsel virtually conceded before the SC that Parliament was competent to extend SARFESI Act to J-K,” Omar said, alleging this “implicates” the state government in a visible pattern of such incidents that “are aimed at undermining” the state’s Constitution and Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
ALSO READ J&K residents are ‘first and foremost’ citizens of India, state’s sovereignty within Indian Constitution: SCOmar was reacting after the apex court held that provisions of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) are within the legislative competence of Parliament and can be enforced in Jammu and Kashmir.The bench set aside the verdict of Jammu and Kashmir High Court that had held that any law made by Parliament, which affects the laws made by state legislature, cannot be extended to Jammu and Kashmir.”The State of Jammu & Kashmir has no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India and its own Constitution, which is subordinate to the Constitution of India,” a bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman has said.”It is therefore wholly incorrect to describe it as being sovereign in the sense of its residents constituting a separate and distinct class in themselves. The residents of Jammu & Kashmir, we need to remind the High Court, are first and foremost citizens of India,” it has said.

India can avoid tag of being accident capital of the world: Supreme Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The year 2014 alone witnessed 2.37 lakh road accidents on national and state highways across the country which had left at least 85,462 people dead and 2.59 lakh injured.These were the sensational findings in official statistics placed before the Supreme Court, which noted that as per 2009 data, India had reported the highest number of road accident fatalities in the world which clearly indicated that a road accident occurred every four minutes.India can avoid the tag of being the “accident capital of the world”, was how the apex court reacted on scanning the figures of vehicular deaths over the past several years while stressing on the need for “proper enforcement” of law preventing drunken driving.
ALSO READ Accident deaths: Tamil Nadu roads get dubious reputeThe apex court said proper enforcement of law was needed for a nation like India, which is on the cusp of economic development, to protect precious human lives from road mishaps specially due to drunken driving.The remarks were made by the top court in its December 15 judgement by which it ordered a ban on all liquor shops on national and state highways across the country while making it clear that licenses of the existing shops will not be renewed after March 31 next year.
ALSO READ India loses Rs 4 lakh crore annually due to road accidents: UN study”Human life is precious. As the road network expands in India, road infrastructure being an integral part of economic development, accidents profoundly impact on the life of common citizen. For a nation on the cusp of economic development, India can well avoid the tag of being the accident capital of the world,” a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said.The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, took note of the statistics placed before it by the government agencies, according to which total number of persons killed in road accidents on the national highways was 48,768 in 2012 which shot up to 51,204 in 2015.
ALSO READ Health Ministry to review emergency road accident careIn 2014, there were 1.24 lakh accident cases resulting in 46,110 deaths and 1.35 lakh persons injured in mishaps on the national highways while on state highways, the figure was 1.13 lakh accidents in which 1.24 lakh people were injured and 39,352 had been killed.”The expressways witnessed 4,208 accident cases, 4,229 injured and 1,802 deaths. Figures are also available of the distribution of road accidents by causes during 2014. 1.38 lakh persons were injured in road accidents involving dangerous or careless driving and 42,127 deaths occurred.”Injuries caused in accidents due to over-speeding stood at 1.81 lakh while there were 48,654 deaths. 7,307 accident cases involving driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol were registered resulting in 7,398 injuries and 2,591 deaths,” the bench noted in its order.The apex court further said that on December 1, 2011, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in an advisory issued to Chief Secretaries of all the States and Union Territories, had noted that India had reported the highest number of road accident fatalities in the world and data of 2009 indicated that a road accident occurred every four minutes.It said that in the advisory, it was said that drunken driving was a “leading cause” of road accidents as 27,152 road accidents was caused under the influence of alcohol in 2009.The bench said that in another advisory of March 18, 2013, the ministry had stated that in 2011, 1.42 lakh people were killed in 4.9 lakhs road accidents and 24,655 accidents were caused due to drunken driving resulting in 10,553 deaths and injuries to 21,148 persons.Referring to another advisory of May 2014, the apex court said that in 2012, 1.38 lakh people were killed in 4.9 lakh road accidents out of which 23,979 accidents were caused due to drunken driving resulting in 7835 deaths and injuries to 23,403 persons.The bench observed that availability of liquor along the highways is an “opportunity to consume” and there are alarming statistics on the occurrence of road accidents which have claimed human lives and caused debility and injury.”The figures which are available on the record indicate that the occurrence of a large number of road accidents is neither a phenomenon confined to national highways nor is prevalence of road accidents, including fatalities, confined only to the national highways.”Both the national highways and state highways share a common experience of an unacceptably high number of road accidents, the prevalence injuries and fatalities; drunken driving being one of the major causes,” it said.The bench observed that highways and expressways provides seamless connectivity and unheralded opportunities for growth of trade and industry and for the movement of goods, persons and capital and are the backbone of the freedom of trade and commerce guaranteed by Article 301 of the Constitution.”Our highways are dotted with sign boards warning of the dangers of combining speed and alcohol. Together, they constitute a heady cocktail. The availability of liquor along the highways is an opportunity to consume.”Easy access to liquor shops allows for drivers of vehicles to partake in alcohol, in callous disregard to their own safety and the safety of others,” the apex court said.The bench also said it was conscious that policy to discontinue liquor vends on national highways may not eliminate drunken driving completely.”The law on preventing drunken driving also requires proper enforcement,” it said, adding, “The existence of liquor vends; advertisements and sign boards drawing attention to the availability of liquor coupled with the arduous drives particularly in heavy vehicles makes it abundantly necessary to enforce the policy of the Union government to safeguard human life”.The apex court passed a slew of directions, including that all states and union territories shall forthwith cease and desist from granting licences for the sale of liquor along national and state highways and all signages indicating availability of liquor shall be prohibited on the highways.It said that no liquor shop shall be visible and directly accessible from the highways and it should be situated within a distance of 500 metres of the outer edge of the national or state highway or of the service lane.”All States and Union territories are mandated to strictly enforce the above directions. The Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Police shall within one month chalk out a plan for enforcement in consultation with the state revenue and home departments,” it said.

J&K residents are ‘first and foremost’ citizens of India, state’s sovereignty within Indian Constitution: SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir has “no vestige” of sovereignty outside the Indian Constitution and its own, while the citizens of the state are “first and foremost” citizens of India, the Supreme Court has held.The apex court observed this while terming as “wholly incorrect” the conclusion arrived at by Jammu and Kashmir High Court which had held that the state has “absolute sovereign power” to legislate laws touching the rights of its permanent residents regarding their immovable properties.”The State of Jammu & Kashmir has no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India and its own Constitution, which is subordinate to the Constitution of India,” a bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman said.”It is therefore wholly incorrect to describe it as being sovereign in the sense of its residents constituting a separate and distinct class in themselves. The residents of Jammu & Kashmir, we need to remind the High Court, are first and foremost citizens of India,” it said.The apex court said this while holding that provisions of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) are within the legislative competence of Parliament and can be enforced in Jammu and Kashmir.The bench set aside the verdict of Jammu and Kashmir High Court that had held that any law made by Parliament, which affects the laws made by state legislature, cannot be extended to Jammu and Kashmir.”The High Court judgment begins from the wrong end and therefore reaches the wrong conclusion. It states that in terms of Section 5 of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, the State has absolute sovereign power to legislate in respect of laws touching the rights of its permanent residents qua their immovable properties,” the apex court said.It further said, “We may also add that permanent residents of Jammu & Kashmir are citizens of India, and there is no dual citizenship as is contemplated by some other federal Constitutions in other parts of the world”.The apex court judgement came on the appeal by State Bank of India (SBI) against the high court verdict which had held that the SARFAESI Act would collide with the Transfer of Property Act of Jammu & Kashmir, 1920.SARFAESI is an enactment which entitles banks to enforce their security interest outside the court process to take possession of secured assets of the borrower and sell them outside the court process.The apex court, in its 61-page verdict, also said it was “disturbing to note that various parts of High Court judgment speak of the absolute sovereign power of Jammu & Kashmir.” “It is necessary to reiterate that Section 3 of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, which was framed by a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise, makes a ringing declaration that the State of Jammu & Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India. And this provision is beyond the pale of amendment,” it said.The apex court, while setting aside the high court order, held that provisions of the SARFAESI Act can be applied to Jammu and Kashmir.”We therefore set aside the judgment of the High Court.As a result, notices issued by banks in terms of Section 13 (Enforcement of security interest) and other coercive methods taken under the said Section are valid and can be proceeded with further,” the bench said.The high court had held the Act was inapplicable for banks like the SBI which are Indian banks.

Sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir within Constitution of India: Supreme Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s assertion that the state’s sovereignty cannot be challenged or altered, reports the Indian Express. The apex court said that the state has “no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India”.It has also declined the HC’s view that the state’s Constitution was equal to that of India’s Constitution. Citing the preamble of the Constitution of J&K, 1957, the top court said, “It is clear that the state of Jammu & Kashmir has no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India and its own Constitution, which is subordinate to the Constitution of India… they (residents of state) are governed first by the Constitution of India and also by the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir.” In a landmark ruling last year in July, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court said that the sovereignty of the state remained “legally and constitutionally” intact and could be challenged, altered or abridged. “The sovereignty of the State of J&K under the rule of Maharaja, even after signing of Instrument of Accession and in view of framing of its own Constitution, thus ‘legally and constitutionally remained intact and untampered’,” a division bench of the court said.The SC bench said that it found several parts of HC judgment in the appeal, which spoke about the absolute sovereign power of the state, disturbing. The judges said, “It is necessary to reiterate that Section 3 of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, which was framed by a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise, makes a ringing declaration that the State of Jammu & Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India. And this provision is beyond the pale of amendment.” It also said that that HC needs to be reminded that the state subjects are “first and foremost” Indian citizens and it was completely incorrect to describe it as being sovereign and as a separate and distinct class itself. “The residents of Jammu & Kashmir, we need to remind the High Court, are first and foremost citizens of India… permanent residents of the state of J&K are citizens of India, and that there is no dual citizenship as is contemplated by some other federal Constitutions in other parts of the world,” it said.The SC ruling came during a decision on a legal question on whether the 2002 SARFAESI Act is applicable to the state or if it is beyond the legislative competence of Parliament as the provisions will clash with Section 140 of the Transfer of Property Act of J&K. The HC bench had said in its ruling last year that the SARFAESI Act is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir owing to this unique constitutional position. “Provisions of the Act can be availed of by the banks, which originate from the State of J&K, for securing the monies which are due to them and which have been advanced to the borrowers, who are not State subjects and residents of the State of J&K and who are non State subjects/non citizens of the State of J&K and residents of any other State of India excepting the State of J&K,” it said. The State Bank of India appealed against this High Court order.The SC has rejected the arguments of the state government that SAFRESI Act was not applicable to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir and that it encroached upon the property rights. The state also said that Parliamentary legislation would need to concur with the state government before it could apply to it under Article 370. ““Entries 45 and 95 of List I clothe Parliament with exclusive power to make laws with respect to banking… the Act as a whole would necessarily operate in the state,” the SC bench said. It added that there was a special provision for sale of properties in the state under SAFRESI Act.“It is clear that anything that comes in the way of SARFAESI by way of a Jammu & Kashmir law must necessarily give way to the said law,” said SC judgment, adding that it had no on effect on Article 35A which gives permanent residents of state special rights and privileges regarding acquisition of immovable property in the state.

Split in opposition? Some parties pull out out of Cong-led meeting with President

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Leaders of some opposition parties led by Congress met President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday, apprised him of the problems caused by demonetization and complained that the government did not allow Parliament to function and “stifled” the opposition voice. While leaders of Trinamool Congress, RJD, JD(U) and AIUDF and some other parties joined the Congress-led delegation, NCP, DMK, Left parties, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party stayed away.The fissures in the opposition unity cropped up at the last minute after a Congress delegation met the Prime Minister separately in Parliament House on farmers’ issues and demanded loan waiver for farmers. The delegation, led by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, party Vice President Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, with a host of leaders from various opposition parties being part of it, later handed over a memorandum to the President. “We are extremely pained by this trampling of our democratic rights and the suppression of our right to present our views and make our voices heard in Parliament. We are deeply concerned that our parliamentary democratic system itself is under severe threat.”The demonetization decision has brought about a disastrous situation in the nation. We beseech you, as the protector of the Constitution, to kindly intervene to save the people from economic disaster,” the memorandum said.Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the leaders apprised the President of the situation arising out of demonetization and the problems being faced by them. “We told President that we wanted a discussion on demonetization in Parliament and on problems faced by farmers, small traders. We wanted debate in Parliament but the government flouted all democratic values and blocked it,” he said.Speaking on the manner in which the winter session of Parliament functioned, he said, “The government completely failed in running the proceedings in Parliament. Ministers holding placards did not allow Parliament to function.”

DMK, AIADMK in catch 22 over leadership issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both the AIADMK and the DMK are in a piquant situation — have to amend the party constitution to elevate Sasikala and Karunanidhi’s son Stalin respectively for them to play a larger and key role. Senior AIADMK leaders including Chief Minister o Panneerselvam and his cabinet colleagues (most of whom double up as secretaries of the party’s district units) have urged Jayalalithaa’s aide V K Sasikala to take over the post of general secretary hitherto held by Jayalalithaa.In the last three days, they have met Sasikala often to press their demand so as to keep the party together. Panneerselvam has even given a statement asking her to lead the party as it required ‘military Discipline” and she knew the nuances of political moves to counter the opposition.A problem which the party has to surmount is the Constitution — Section 30 (5) of the AIADMK Rules and Regulations stipulates : Those who want to contest for the post of office beaers of the organisation should have been member of the party for five years without any break’. In December 2011, Sasikala and her close relatives as also her husband M Natarajan, were expelled from the AIADMK by Jayalalithaa. Sasikala was also asked to leave the Poe’s Garden residence of Jayalalithaa. It was only in April 2012 that Jayalalithaa took Sasikala back into the Garden.Though the date of her re-admission into the party is not known, it is possible that this too must have been in April 2012. Since it is only a little over four years since the re-entry of Sasikala, technically she cannot be considered for any post. Therefore, when the party general Council meets in April as is likely, it would have to amend the Constitution to reduce this period from five to four years or the Executive Committee can pass a resolution, making out a special case for Sasikala and get it ratified by the General Council later. Similarly, an amendment would be required to create a new post for Sasikala in case she opts for a post like Joint General Secretary or Additional General Secretary.Sasikala has so far not given any indication to the party leaders about her response to their request. Perhaps, all the district units and general Council members may be asked to sign a memorandum containing their request to Sasikala — for her to be sure of near–unanimous support, and to ensure it is a smooth affair. Meanwhile, the main opposition DMK is also grappling with legal and technical issues to elevate Stalin. While Stalin’s supporters have been urging his father to make him party President so as to inject some energy into the party, Karunanidhi seems to be reluctant to part with his own post . Karunanidhi realises that the moment he gives up the post of president, he would get sidelined. At the same time, he needs to give more importance to Stalin in order to get work done and to build the party.Those close to Karunanidhi have suggested that the post of a Working President be created for Stalin, which would ensure that Karunanidhi remains the President, even while meeting Stalin supporters half-way.The DMK has convened a meeting of its General Council on December 20. Although the agenda is not known, the elevation of Stalin is on the cards. The party needs the General Council to adopt a resolution and amend the Constitution to pave the way for Stalin. The AIADMK and the DMK are running on a parallel track these last few months. The leaders of both parties were hospitalized one after the other. Both parties are also facing the need to find new leadership. While AIADMK lost its leader, Karunanidhi needs rest.

Delhi govt should have some powers, otherwise it can’t function: SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi government should have some powers otherwise it cannot function, the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday while listing for final disposal the appeal of the AAP government against the high court verdict which had held that the LG was the administrative head of national capital.The “elected government in Delhi should have some powers otherwise it cannot function. The matter needs to be decided fast”, a bench of Justices A K Sikri and A M Sapre said. The bench listed the matter for final disposal on January 18 and said since it will hear the matter in detail, no interim orders will be passed on various interim applications as of now. Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, said that they are challenging the order of the high court which has ruled that the Lieutenant Governor (LG) was the administrative head and whose prior consent is needed in all administrative decisions.He said that the high court has held that the aid and advice of council of ministers are not binding upon the LG.”The elected government in Delhi cannot appoint the chief secretary or cannot even appoint a class IV officer by itself,” Subramaniam said, noting that under the constitutional scheme of things the council of ministers is required to give aid and advice to the LG. He said that the Constitution mandates that when there is difference of opinion on any issue, then the matter could be referred to the President.As an interim relief, the senior lawyer sought stay order from the court on the decision of the LG to appoint the three- member Shunglu committee to inspect 400 files of the AAP government after the Delhi High Court verdict came.The Shunglu committee, which has submitted its report last month, was formed by LG Najeeb Jung on August 30 to examine over 400 files on decisions taken by the AAP dispensation. The committee was chaired by former CAG V K Shunglu with ex-chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami and ex-chief vigilance commissioner Pradeep Kumar as its members. “Stay should also be granted on compulsary referrence to the LG on every decision taken by the government and the LG should be directed to strictly comply with the provisions of the NCT Act,” he said. Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar said that no notice has been issued and therefore no reply has been filed on the appeals of the Delhi government. The bench said that since the matters are being listed for final disposal, there was no need of reply as of now as everything could be raised during arguments. Subramaniam then said that as an interim measure lawyers appointed by the Delhi government to represent it in the apex court should be allowed to function by the bench. This submission was opposed by Kumar who said that since 1950 as per the convention the lawyers from central agency of the Ministry of Law and Justice has been looking after the affairs of all Union territories in the country.”Now since Delhi has been declared as a Union Territory by the high court, the lawyers who were appointed by the AAP government have not allowed to function,” Kumar said. Subramaniam said that it is open to the elected government to appoint any lawyer to represent itself in various courts. Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan also concurred with the view of Subramanian and said that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has written to the registry of the Supreme Court that ‘vakalatnama’ (power of attroney) of the Delhi government lawyers should not be accepted.To this, the bench said that there has been occassions when two lawyers – one from the Delhi government and one from the Centre — have before it in a single matter representing the same party. It told the SG that lawyers representing the Delhi goverment in this matter should be allowed to represent it and posted the matter for final hearing to Janurary 18. Earlier, the AAP government had told the apex court that no “precipitative action” should be taken on the Shunglu committee report till the apex court adjudicates the Delhi- Centre row.On September 9, the apex court had refused to grant an interim stay on the Delhi High Court’s August 4 verdict and sought response within six weeks from the Centre on seven appeals of the AAP dispensation. It had also declined to stay the decision of LG Jung to set up a three-member committee to scrutinise over 400 files and past orders of the elected city government. In its verdict, the high court had rejected several pleas challenging the LG’s authority after which he had ordered examination of the files.

PM Modi targets investors, claims India sans corruption will be an attractive destination

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of his government’s demonetisation decision, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said cleaning the system of black money and corruption is “very high” on his agenda amid a push towards employment generation and self-employment opportunities.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters file imagePrime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters file image

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters file image

“India is currently witnessing an economic transformation. We are now moving towards a digital and cashless economy,” he said, while addressing the ‘Economic Times Asian Business Leaders Conclave 2016’ in Kuala Lumpur along with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak via video conferencing.

“Presently, cleaning the system from black money and corruption is very high on my agenda,” Modi said, against the backdrop of his 8 November decision to scrap notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination.

He said the economic process in India is being geared towards activities which are vital for generating employment or self-employment opportunities. The Prime Minister told the gathering that a number of steps have been taken to attract greater FDI and listed the various steps taken in this direction.

He also mentioned that amendment to the Constitution to pave the way for Goods and Services Tax (GST), which will overhaul the indirect tax system in India, has been cleared by Parliament and “this is expected to be implemented in 2017”. “We welcome those who are not in India so far. India is not only a good destination. It’s always a good decision to be in India,” Modi said.

“We have opened up new sectors for FDI and enhanced caps for existing sectors,” he said, adding the government’s concerted efforts on major FDI policy reforms continue and conditions for investments have been simplified.

Total FDI inflows in the last two and a half years have touched $130 billion, Modi said. “The positive change in policy, regulatory and investment environment in India is recognised by both domestic and foreign investors,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 15:23 IST

Bill to amend SC/ST list introduced in Lok Sabha

Wed, 14 Dec 2016-02:50pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A bill seeking to transfer certain communities from the list of Scheduled Castes (SC) to Scheduled Tribes (ST) and include new communities in the ST list was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.The Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to transfer ‘Bhogta’ community of Jharkhand from the list of SCs to the STs list.The Bill, introduced by Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram amid din over the note ban issue, also seeks to include certain more communities in the list of STs relating to Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Tripura.The government keeps amending the lists originally notified in 1950 based on requests made by various state governments.

Delhi HC to hear pleas against demonetization on December 22

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi High Court on Wednesday adjourned till December 22 the hearing on pleas challenging the demonetization move after it was informed that the Supreme Court is seized of the matter.As the bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini did not assemble today, the counsel for the petitioners sought a date after December 15 as the apex court will hear similar issues.The court adjourned the matter to December 22.The counsel said that the Supreme Court is seized of the pleas challenging the November 8 decision to demonetize high value currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and also the petition filed by the government seeking transfer of matters pending before various high courts to either the apex court or one of the high courts.The high court bench was hearing two separate pleas, one of which has sought discontinuation of new Rs 2,000 currency notes.
ALSO READ Lok Sabha adjourns amid Oppn din over Kiren Rijiju, demonetization issuesThe other petition has sought a direction to the Centre to ensure that all the ATMs are dispensing cash and people do not suffer.One of the petitioners, Pooja Mahajan, who runs a designer showroom, has questioned the government allowing certain public utilities including hospitals and petrol pumps to use the old notes.
ALSO READ Massive IT raids across country: Rs 2.25 crore in new currency seized in Bengaluru, 68 lakh in GoaIn her plea, she has also claimed that the government has taken a dual stand as on the one hand it was encouraging people to deposit old notes in bank accounts and on the other hand, it was threatening them of prosecution for depositing over Rs 2.5 lakh.She has also urged the HC to quash various notifications with regard to demonetization which were issued on and after November 8, alleging that they are in contravention of the Constitution of India and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Act.Another petition, filed by Birender Sangwan, has sought direction to the government to ensure that all the ATMs are dispensing cash.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November 8 announced the demonetization of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

Government in a fix on clearing Avinash Rai Khanna’s name as NHRC member, plans wider consultation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing flak for clearing BJP vice president Avinash Rai Khanna’s name as member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the government is now planning to hold wider consultations. Name of Khanna, a Rajya Sabha member from Punjab and BJP in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir, was cleared by the panel headed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month. If chosen, he would have been the first active politician to be appointed as a member of the NHRC, which is headed by a former chief justice of India.Besides a former chief justice as its chairperson, the other three full-time members, as per the Protection of Human Rights Act, should include a former chief justice of a high court and two others “from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights”.“We are still in the process of clearing the names after other stakeholders (for the selection) raised objections on the name. We also need to seek the concurrence of Rai before finalising his name. He has not shown inclination until now,” said a senior official in the union home ministry. Though the appointment panel also had leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Congress and other political parties have threatened to raise the matter in the Parliament if the appointment is finalised.Besides, the move has also been contested a young student of Noida who challenged the validity of the recommendation by the Prime Minister led panel to appoint Khanna.In her petition, Anupriya Nagori said that the decision making process as well as the recommendation were in violation of the statutory prohibition contained in Section 24 (3) of the Protection of Human Rights Act and Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.Khanna’s cannot be appointed as per Section 24(3) of the PHRA as anybody who has remained member of a state human rights commission cannot be the member of NHRC and Khanna had served in Punjab state human rights commission (SHRC) some years ago.

Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar sacks two ministers of ally MGP from his cabinet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a significant development, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Monday night dropped two of his Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party colleagues from cabinet following their outburst against the BJP-led government, raising prospects of new permutations and combinations in the state going to polls next year.Parsekar faxed the communication to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha late night recommended dropping of Sudin Dhavlikar and Dipak Dhavlikar from the cabinet. With this, the total number of ministers in Parsekar-led cabinet is reduced to ten.”I have recommended that both the ministers be dropped under article 164 (1) of Constitution of India,” the CM told PTI.He said all the portfolios which were allotted to both the ministers are reverted to him, till they are allotted to anyone else.MGP was represented by Sudin and Dipak Dhavlikar in the cabinet.MGP had fought 2012 Assembly election in alliance with BJP. While BJP won 21 seats in the 40-member house, MGP was victorious on three. Hence, ouster of two MGP ministers won’t pose any threat to the government.While Sudin Dhavalikar held important portfolios like Transport and Public Works Department, Dipak Dhavlikar headed Rural Development Agency.Responding to a question, Parsekar said he was yet to decide on filling both the vacancies.When contacted, Dipak Dhavalikar said he was yet to receive any communication about his removal from the cabinet.”I can’t comment as we are yet to receive any communication,” he said.MGP, the first regional ruling party after Goa was liberated from Portuguese in 1961, had recently decided not to have a pre-poll alliance with the BJP if Parsekar continues to lead the party.Sudin recently accused Parsekar of taking Goa ten years backward during his rule of two-and-half years, while Dipak, the MGP president, had dared the BJP to dissolve the Assembly and face election on their own and win the majority seats.”So if BJP wants us to go, they should dissolve the Assembly. It is not the government of their own. We also have a share in it. Let BJP dissolve the Assembly and face election on their own and win the majority seats,” Dipak said.Interestingly, RSS rebel Subhash Velingkar-led Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) had proposed alliance with MGP for polls.Hinting at this, Parsekar told reporters earlier in the day, “What has happened that suddenly Dhavalikar has started reacting this way in last two-three days ? Has he met someone who has instigated him or he has started dreaming of becoming chief minister?”

Compensate acquitted innocents: Justice AP Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One of the biggest pitfalls of arresting a person on malicious and wrongful intent in terror cases is that while innocents get behind the bars, the real culprits go scot-free which can be very dangerous for the society, observed Justice AP Shah, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, while releasing the first Peoples’ Tribunal report on acquitted innocents.“We need to improve the efficiency of our investigating agencies to ensure that such pitfalls that have ruined and are still ruining hundreds of lives are removed. The trial in such cases takes seven to eight years or more to complete, and by the time the accused is released, his or her life is in a shambles,” said Justice Shah, citing the case of Nisaruddin, who was acquitted by the Supreme Court in 2016 after spending 23 years in prison.The tribunal, first of its kind, heard depositions from nine acquitted innocents over a period of two months who were picked up by the police in terror cases but later exonerated by the courts for want of evidence but in the process had to suffer the humiliation and social stigma of being a terror accused.One of the acquitted victims who spent 14 years in jail, Mohammed Aamir Khan, termed the report as a milestone but found it lacking in spelling out what could be done to save the terror accused within the four walls of prison.“I was acquitted after 14 years. Our jails are no better than Abu Ghraib where accused like me go through the worst kind of torture and are always at the mercy of police and other convicts. Many get killed like what happened in Bhopal jailbreak case,” said Aamir.Giving its recommendations to save, compensate and rehabilitate exonerated accused of terror cases, the tribunal observed that the government should grant compensation to the exonerees for violating their right to life and liberty and the torture they underwent under Article 21 of the Constitution.“It is shameful that India does not have any such provision,” said Justice Shah, adding that the cost may be recovered from the officers responsible for the wrongful arrests and prosecution.The tribunal recommends greater accountability and transparency of investigating agency for which they should be subjected to initiation of departmental enquiry against the officers concerned and the erring officers must be suspended with immediate effect pending enquiry. “If found that the criminal prosecution against the acquitted persons was malafide and amounts to offences under IPC Sections 194, 196 and 211, the officers named by the exonerees should be prosecuted,” the report said.The report recommended enactment of law to compensate for miscarriage of justice, pass the prevention of torture bill that is pending in the parliament for four years, shifting the burden of proof in offenses related to custodial violence and torture by bringing amendment in section 114B (1) of the Indian Evidence Act as proposed by the Tenth Law Commission.On MCOCAThe tribunal explicitly recommended repealing Section 18 of MCOCA thus calling for an end to the admissibility of confessions as evidence and bringing all undergoing trials in repealed and lapsed TADA and POTA under ordinary law.

Triple Talaq: Shiv Sena asks Prime Minister Modi to bring changes in Sharia law

Mumbai: Days after the Allahabad High Court termed the practice of triple talaq as ‘cruel’, the Shiv Sena on Saturday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give his nod to bring changes in Sharia law in the interest of Muslim women.

Shiv Sena headquarters in Mumbai. AFP

Shiv Sena headquarters in Mumbai. AFP

“The Allahabad High Court had asked whether there should be changes in Sharia. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should say yes without seeking anyone’s advice. “This decision would be as revolutionary as demonetisation,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said.

“What the High Court said was not an order but an observation. But, it reflects the feeling of the country and the pain of Muslim women,” the Sena, an ally of BJP in Maharashtra, said.

The High Court has paved the path of enactment of a common civil code, it said.

Those torturing Muslim women in the name of Muslim personal law should be branded anti-nationals and punished, the Sena said.

“However, nobody is willing to comment on this as everyone, including the BJP, is eyeing Muslim vote bank in the UP elections,” the editorial claimed.

The debate on the validity of triple talaq has intensified after the Allahabad High Court on Thursday termed the practice as “most demeaning” which “impedes and drags India from becoming a nation”.

The court had said that the Constitution of India was supreme and not the Muslim Law Board.

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 14:34 IST

Triple talaq: Shiv Sena asks Modi to bring changes in Sharia law

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Days after the Allahabad High Court termed the practice of triple talaq as ‘cruel’, the Shiv Sena today asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give his nod to bring changes in Sharia law in the interest of Muslim women.”The Allahabad High Court had asked whether there should be changes in Sharia. (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi should say yes without seeking anyone’s advice. This decision would be as revolutionary as demonetisation,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said. “What the High Court said was not an order but an observation. But, it reflects the feeling of the country and the pain of Muslim women,” the Sena, an ally of BJP in Maharashtra, said. The High Court has paved the path of enactment of a common civil code, it said.Those torturing Muslim women in the name of Muslim personal law should be branded anti-nationals and punished, the Sena said. “However, nobody is willing to comment on this as everyone, including the BJP, is eyeing Muslim vote bank in the UP elections,” the editorial claimed.The debate on the validity of triple talaq has intensified after the Allahabad High Court on Thursday termed the practice as “most demeaning” which “impedes and drags India from becoming a nation”.The court had said that the Constitution of India was supreme and not the Muslim Law Board.

Cauvery row: SC upholds maintainability of appeals against 2007 grant of CWDT

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the maintainability of appeals filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the 2007 award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT) on sharing of river water saying it has the “jurisdiction to decide the parameters, scope, authority and jurisdiction of the tribunal”.A three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said the exposition of the principles of law, the intendment of the legislature and the ultimate purpose and effect of the provision compel it to “repel” the submissions raised on behalf of the Union of India that Section 6(2) bars the jurisdiction conferred on this court under Article 136.The bench also comprising Justices Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar said that from the provisions it is clear as crystal that Parliament did not intend to create any kind of embargo on the jurisdiction of this court and the provision section 6 (2) was inserted to give the binding effect to the award passed by the tribunal. “The founding fathers had not conferred the power on this court to entertain an original suit or complaint and that is luminescent from the language employed in Article 131 of the Constitution and from the series of pronouncements of this court,” the bench said, adding that the words “same force as on order or decision” cannot be treated as a decree for the purpose for excluding the jurisdiction of the apex court.
ALSO READ AIADMK calls for formation of Cauvery Management BoardElaborating, the court said that the award of tribunal cannot be a “decree as if this court has adjudicated the matter and decree is passed”. “Parliament has intended that the same (tribunal’s award) shall be executed or abided as if it is a decree of this court. It is to be borne in mind that a provision should not be interpreted to give a different colour which has a technical design rather than serving the object of the legislation,” it said.Referring to an earlier Constitution bench judgement of apex court, the bench said that it was held that this court cannot take cognisance of an original dispute or complaint. “The Constitution bench analysing the scheme of the 1956 Act has opined that the tribunal had the jurisdiction to grant interim relief. It has also been categorically ruled that this Court cannot take cognizance of original dispute,” it said.
ALSO READ DMK’s all party Cauvery meet will pressure Centre, Karnataka: Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy While referring to another verdict of the apex court, the bench said that “this court has jurisdiction to decide the parameters, scope, authority and jurisdiction of the tribunal”.It said that once a water dispute is adjudicated by the tribunal under the provisions of the Constitution, it loses the nature of dispute. “A person aggrieved can always have his remedy invoking the jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution of India. We have not a scintilla of doubt in our mind that the founding fathers did not want the award or the final order passed by the tribunal to remain immune from challenge. That is neither the express language of Article 262(1) nor it is implied to states. Thus, the contention of the Union of India with regard to maintainability of the appeal by special leave under Article 136 of the Constitution of India on this score stands repelled,” it said.
ALSO READ Convene TN Assembly on Cauvery issue: All-party meet to state govtThe bench listed the appeals filed by three states to be heard on December 15, 2016 and directed that interim orders passed on October 18 will continue. On October 18, the apex court had directed Karnataka to keep supplying Tamil Nadu with 2,000 cusecs of water till further orders.The court had earlier said that it would first go into the issue of maintainability of appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the award of tribunal and then hear arguments on the report filed by Supervisory Committee formed to assess the ground realities in the Cauvery basin region.The Centre, through Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, had raised a preliminary objection claiming that the CWDT award amounted to a final decree in the dispute and the apex court had no jurisdiction to hear appeals against the award of the tribunal. But the states had contended that their appeals were maintainable saying the Supreme Court had the jurisdiction to adjudicate the appeals filed by the state against the award of tribunal and that no statute can take away the appellate powers of the apex court under Article 136 of the Constitution.

National anthem debate: Differently-abled exempted, halls won’t be bolted, clarifies SC

Ten days after its 30 November order directing cinema halls across India to play the National Anthem before the start of a film and made it mandatory for every one present to stand while it is being played, the Supreme Court on Friday clarified on the controversial order, saying differently-abled persons are exempted. It also said the halls will not be bolted during the duration of the Anthem.

In its 30 November order, a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy said that playing the anthem would instill a feeling of constitutional patriotism and nationalism. “It is the duty of every citizen to abide by the ideals ingrained in the Constitution, and as such, show respect to the National Anthem and the national flag,” the bench had said.

“People must feel this is my country and this is my motherland,” the bench said. “At the root of protocol for national anthem, is respect for national identity, integrity and constitutional patriotism,” the bench said.

According to ANI, the order came with additional caveats such as everyone present in the hall must rise and “pay respect” to the National Anthem.

The court’s order came on a public interest litigation (PIL) by Shayam Narayan Chouksey seeking framing of guidelines on the playing of the National Anthem.

The verdict was welcomed by both BJP as well as Congress. However, while the latter supported the decision, it raised questions over the implementation. “The 130-year-old party has seen the bigger independence movement. Therefore, we have strongly supported all aspects of genuine nationalism. We support, in principle, everything that enhances the respect and dignity of this nation. Therefore, we support this in principle,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

Echoing the Supreme Court ruling, a happy Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that the decision will “inculcate a sense of patriotism among people, particularly the younger generation”. BJP also welcomed the order, saying that it will strengthen the spirit of nationalism and the idea of ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 16:39 IST

Triple Talaq violates Fundamental Right: Supreme Court should rule against it

On 8 December, the Allahabad High Court used strong words against the practice of triple talaq, describing it as “unconstitutional” and a violation of the rights of Muslim women, but such strong words do not mean anything practically and certainly do not settle the issue in law. More on that later, but first the court’s observation should be welcomed because it is significant insofar as it strengthens women’s rights movement in the country; sends a strong warning to Islamic clerics that time for them to change is now; denotes a pro-liberty shift in the higher judiciary’s thinking, and offers a bright ray of hope to Muslim women who are rendered destitute overnight by triple talaq.

The court observed: “The instant divorce (triple talaq) though has been deprecated and not followed by all sects of Muslim community in the country, however, is a cruel and the most demeaning form of divorce practised by the Muslim community.” It further said, “The question which disturbs the court is should Muslim wives suffer this tyranny for all times? Should their personal law remain so cruel towards these unfortunate wives?”

These are strong words that indicate that the Indian judiciary may be reaching a turning point where it is no longer willing to subordinate its sense of judgement to the whims of Islamic clerics and political correctness.

The court’s observation has come at a time there is growing awareness about constitutional rights available to Indian citizens, especially Muslim women in this case. Ever since the constitution began to be implemented from 26 January 1950, citizens are now more aware than ever about their rights. Indian society is passing through revolutionary times when the cause of Muslim women’s rights is widely supported by people, and significantly not by so called feminist women.

Representative image. Reuters

Representative image. Reuters

It is a sign of revolutionary times that even semi-educated Muslim women are knocking at the door of the Supreme Court to obtain their rights. The Allahabad court’s observation will strengthen their resolve to claim their fundamental right to equality.

However, it should also be noted that these are observations of the court, not a judgement, and therefore not consequential legally.

The Allahabad court said that it would “not like to say anything further for the reason that the Supreme Court is seized with the matter.” Only a judgement of the Supreme Court, therefore, can settle the issue in law that triple talaq is unconstitutional. However, there are practical issues. At present the Muslim personal laws come under two key legislations: The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937; and the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. Under the 1937 law, Muslims can contract marriage and divorce as per their religious practices.

Under this law, a Muslim husband can “give” divorce through the mediation of Islamic clerics or effect his own divorce through formal or informal means such as telephone, SMS, email, letter and so on. Significantly, a Muslim husband cannot go to court to seek divorce. He can effect his divorce through two paths: one, he can utter instant triple talaq via formal or informal means. Two, he can issue three talaq, one after each menstrual cycle. Lawyers do not advise the second path because the wife is most likely to file a dowry harassment case if he were to issue the first of the three monthly instalments of talaq.

The 1939 law was brought in to empower the Muslim woman to “seek” – not give – divorce. Under this Sharia-compatible law, a Muslim woman can go to court or to Islamic clerics to seek a dissolution of her marriage. Both the 1937 and 1939 laws are as per the Islamic Sharia and legally valid in India, which is in many other ways too a Sharia-compliant state. The provisions under these two laws are as per the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam practised in India. Unless the Supreme Court rules that these laws violate the Fundamental Right to Equality available under Article 14, mere observations that triple talaq is unconstitutional will mean nothing.

Alternatively, the Indian government can bring in a new law that is compatible with the 21st century liberties and values involving women’s rights, and replaces these two laws. This can also be done as part of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC), a first-ever draft of which was proposed and released by this writer last week. A third practical way of dissolving a Muslim marriage, though not widely known, is for either the husband or wife to convert to any other religion, thereby rendering the marriage dissolved. However, as things stand now, a Muslim husband cannot go to court to seek divorce, and therefore any Supreme Court order declaring that triple talaq is unconstitutional should also clarify under what law a Muslim husband can approach court for divorce.

At the intellectual level, the higher judiciary also needs to be questioned for a number of reasons. For example, the Allahabad high court’s observation carries many references to the Quran. The justices of many high courts fail to understand that many women are coming to their doors for the simple reason that they are in a certain difficult situation, whatever being the sources of that, which needs to be addressed within the framework of the Constitution. It should be the natural instinct of a justice to seek remedy within the Constitution, rather than start investigating what the Quran says.

It is equally a sad situation that the Supreme Court too has lost clarity on this subject.

For example, when a Muslim woman approaches the Supreme Court, the case is essentially between herself and her husband or ex-husband. However, even in such cases, the Supreme Court has allowed a number of religious organisations such as Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind to become a party to what is a disagreement between a couple to be settled by the apex court. Therefore, in some way, the Supreme Court empowers such as Islamist groups like Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind to rule over the lives of the affected Muslim women. Here, the apex court needs to not lose sight of the fact that the fundamental right to religion is available to the citizen, not to communities and religious organisations.

Last month, I met with Maulana Mahmood Madani, the leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, in Goa. “What do you think of triple talaq,” he asked me. I replied, “The number of talaq(s) is not important, what is important is that it is being used arbitrarily against women by Muslim husbands. And I am willing to even support triple or quadruple talaq if the husband can go to court and after hearing both the sides the court can fix a date for such a talaq to be delivered.” The way my conversation with him progressed, I reached a conclusion that Maulana Madani was not willing to shift even an inch, not even quarter of a centimetre.

I reminded him that in Pakistan, which follows the Hanafi school of Islamic Sharia, divorces happen in courts. To this, Maulana Madani responded that the law in Pakistan was changed under “Wahhabi influence” and he reminded me that he was using the words “Wahhabi influence” carefully. I also asked him about his position on the Uniform Civil Code. He said that let the government bring in the UCC first and then we will discuss it, because it will also apply to other religious communities. I reminded Maulana Madani that the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind has a large number of lawyers and it should task them to draft a UCC and put it in public domain for everyone to discuss its specifics. He balked at the idea. I also asked him,”Then how is it that Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind has been leading protests against the Uniform Civil Code even without knowing what specifics will constitute it?” My conversation ended with a realisation that such Islamic clerics will not allow any change among Indian Muslims. So, the only hope for Muslim women are the Supreme Court and the people of India.

Former BBC journalist, Tufail Ahmad is a contributing editor at Firstpost, and executive director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi. He tweets @tufailelif

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 14:05 IST

Women will no longer live in fear

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>27-year-old Gausiya Ansari clearly remembers the summer night two years ago. As a newly-wedded woman she was not sure if the ill-treatment was a rite of passage for married women, or whether her in-laws were intentionally diabolic. “One afternoon I couldn’t cook a dish becuase of a missing ingredient. In the evening when my husband returned they created a scene and he slapped me. When I pleaded to stop, they pulled me by my hair to the heater and asked me to put my hand on it,” she recalls over the phone from Bhiwandi. She managed to escape.The torture continued for a year and they even tried to poison her. The last she heard from her husband and his family was when she gave birth to a girl. They came to the hospital, and soon left. A few months later her husband, Sameer Ahmed Momin, sent her a notice through a lawyer. “He never uttered talaq in front of me, how is the marriage invalid. I need him to help me raise my daughter,” says Gausiya. She filed a case in the Bhiwandi court, where the matter is pending. The Allahabad High Court’s judgment questioning the constitutionality of triple talaq, has come as a succour to Gausiya, and other women who have been suffering at the hands of husbands who dictate the terms of divorce, leaving women stranded and without any monetary help.“The question disturbing the court is should Muslim wives suffer this tyranny for all times? Should their personal law remain so cruel towards these unfortunate wives,” the judgement administered by justice Suneet Kumar noted, adding that in India, Muslim law has taken a course contrary to the spirit of the Holy Quran. “Personal laws, of any community, cannot claim supremacy over the rights granted to the individuals by the Constitution,” it noted.The case was filed by two wives of a man, the first wife was 53-year-old, and the other 23-year-old. The elder wife was the first petitioner who approached the court on the grounds that her marriage was not yet null. 23-year-old, the second petitioner argued on the grounds that since the first wife was now divorced, she should no longer harass her and her husband. The court refused to enforce the divorce of the first woman, maintaining that ‘the legality of the marriage/divorce and rights of parties is kept open’. Shayara Bano, the woman who moved the SC challenging triple talaq under the Muslim personal law, too, says she is relieved. Hasina of the Bebaak Collective, who filed an intervention in the Bano case, says ‘it is a major step to have declared triple talaq unconstitutional’.However, some women feel there is a downside. For Old Delhi’s Naziya, within a year of her marriage she felt she could not live with her husband, as he was too conservative. When she approached for khula, she wasn’t granted divorce.“I suffered for a year, and he demanded cash for separation. One day, he informed everyone that he gave me talaq in front of the community. I didn’t even know when I was given the divorce,” she says adding that the court’s pronouncement is now also open to abuse.

Allahabad HC denounces triple talaq

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Allahabad High Court on Thursday pronounced a judgment, questioning the constitutionality of triple talaq. Observing that in India, Muslim law has taken a course contrary to the spirit of the Holy Quran, it said that the judicial conscience “is disturbed at this monstrosity”. “The question which disturbs the Court is should Muslim wives suffer this tyranny for all times? Should their personal law remain so cruel towards these unfortunate wives?” read the judgment administered by Justice Suneet Kumar. “Personal laws, of any community, cannot claim supremacy over the rights granted to the individuals by the Constitution,” it noted. The case was filed by two wives of a man, the first wife was 53 years of age, and the younger one was 23. The first wife was the first petitioner who approached the court on the grounds that her marriage was not yet null, and the second wife, the second petitioner, approached the court on the grounds that since the first wife was now divorced, she should now no longer harass her and her husband. The first wife had two children, and the husband took away one of them she bore and threw her out of the house with the other child. The court refused to enforce the divorce of the first woman, and also refused to nullify the marriage of the second woman, maintaining that “the legality of the marriage/divorce and rights of parties is kept open”.Also read: Women will no longer live in fear

Triple talaq verdict highlights the plight of Muslim women entangled in battles they can’t win

The case of Mohammad Naseem Bhat vs Bilquees Akhtar heard by Justice Hasnain Masoodi is an infrequently told story of a Muslim wife’s claim for maintenance against her husband. The parties were married in August 2002 and had a daughter. The marriage failed and Bilquees started living separately with her daughter. In January 2006, she filed a claim for maintenance for herself and her daughter. She alleged that her husband ill-treated her, mainly because she had given birth to a girl child. The husband held that he had divorced her more than a month before the child was born, and hence she wasn’t entitled to any maintenance.

The lower court accepted the man’s divorce plea and rejected her claim of maintenance for herself. Thus, he was directed to pay a monthly amount only towards his daughter.

Representational image. Getty ImagesRepresentational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

The wife appealed against the judgment, and the first appellate court set aside the lower court’s decision, calling it “perverse, illegal and passed in a mechanical manner”. It also directed the lower court to fix a proper maintenance allowance. The husband appealed in the high court that the lower court’s decision be upheld. It was then that Justice Masoodi stated that under the Kashmir Shariat Act 2007, Muslims are to be governed by the Shariat law.

Today, when discussions on triple talaq have boldly resurfaced in drawing rooms and newsrooms alike, Supreme Court lawyer Shabnam Lone, who was appointed by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir as amicus on behalf of the lady in 2014, says that there is much to be learnt from this incident. “Many religious bodies, and even a retired high court judge and the bar filed a petition against the high court’s order. The application was filed under Section 94 of the Constitution of J&K for reviewing the order passed by the high court. Her own lawyer refused to represent her since the case was widely reported in local newspapers. I filed her power of attorney in open court. When she contacted me, she was worried but sure about going ahead. After the third or fourth hearing, she stopped coming to court. It was then that the court appointed me amicus on her behalf,” Lone said.

And whether she wasn’t allowed to show up or lost interest in the case is a reason best known to her, the fact of the matter is that in India, women are entangled in legal battles they aren’t even allowed to fight.

There are several cases to illuminate that a married Muslim woman’s rights change with the culture and class she comes from, but in every situation, she is denied.

Women’s rights activist and lawyer Abha Singh says it is as much an urban problem, and talks about two of her clients battling triple talaq in their own ways. In one case, the client comes from an upper middle class business family in south Mumbai, and because she spoke up against her in-laws, they urged their son to divorce her. She is a graduate and is seeking maintenance for her children under Section 125 of the CrPC. The second is a software professional who converted to Islam to marry her Muslim lover. He wants to divorce her and keep the child. She is fighting for the custody of her son, arguing she is better placed to take care of him.

“These are educated girls who feel they live with the fear of talaq looming over their heads all the time. They are now ready to spend on lawyers, install CCTV cameras to collect evidence against the husband and their in-laws. All this is done with the realisation that the Constitution guarantees basic rights which the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPL) cannot question or interfere with,” Singh says.

Singh points to the many Halala marriages that are prevalent in Lucknow. In this, in order to return to the first husband and children after talaq, a woman is made to marry another man and sleep with him. This humiliating exercise is undertaken each time he divorces her. In other cases, rich Sheikhs from the Middle East marry girls half their age, impregnate them, divorce them and fly back; where there is extreme poverty, there is no concept of maintenance.

Triple talaq has been banned in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and even Saudi Arabia, because as per Islam, there has to be a gap of one menstrual cycle between each time the man utters the word talaq. This ensures that divorce is not given in a fit of rage and the man has time to cool down and think rationally over his decision. While India has overlooked this aspect, it has embraced technology. Talaq can now be given via SMS or email.

Sharifa Khanam, who founded the STEPS Women’s Development Organisation in 1987, has some more scary stories to share. She pointed out that in the last 15 years, 80 Muslim women have died in South Indians towns like Pattikonda, Nagapattinam and Tirunelveli, and there is no reliable data to certify that these were suicides. “In most cases, the woman doesn’t complain because there’s risk of being ostracised by the Jamaat. In 1993, we conducted a survey in Tamil Nadu and found out that in every five families, there is at least one woman who is divorced, or physically and mentally tormented, handicapped or destitute. Not much has changed,” she said.

Khanam pointed out that there is no dowry in Islam and the cultural practice that has emerged in poor families in villages is that the boys’ family pay a mahr of Rs 500, and in turn demand dowry worth Rs 50,000. A dowry harassment case she noticed in Pudukkottai involved a girl who was harassed and burnt to death while the police refused to hear her mother’s plea and asked her to seek help from the jamaat. “In lower levels, the police refuse to interfere in Muslim matters for whatever reason,” Khanam added.

Rubina Patel, who runs the Rubi Social Welfare Society in Nagpur, brings to light some more shameful cases. In Teka in Nagpur, 18-year-old Shahnaz was given talaq without her knowledge. She was packed off to her mother’s house and was living in oblivion for months before she realised what has happened. Shahina, from the same place, was pregnant at 20. Her husband approached a Mufti who issued a fatwa. “When we asked the Mufti why he issued it, he said the talaq was decided according to the man’s neeyat (will). Then we asked him how can a pregnant woman be divorced, to which he said that the talaq will be implemented once the baby is born, like an advance talaq,” Patel said.

While the men are busy politicising personal laws, the women continue to fight peculiar battles, ones that they mostly lose.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 22:22 IST

Right-wing bodies welcome triple talaq verdict, say personal law board not above Constitution

After the Allahabad High Court’s judgment against triple talaq said the practice was unconstitutional and “violated the rights of Muslim women”, several right-wing bodies in the country have reacted encouragingly. In a landmark verdict on Wednesday, the court held that no personal law board was above the Constitution.

Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), a body affiliated with Rashtryia Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that works for the cause of Indian Muslims, said the intention of the central government on triple talaq issue was clear: It won’t have a showdown as in the Shah Bano case during Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s regime.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“It’s a welcome move and we strongly condemn the concept of triple talaq. We may have been late on having a ban on triple talaq, but it is finally in place. As per our Constitution, Indian Muslim women must be treated at par with other citizens. The Modi government has made its intentions clear on this issue. Unlike the Shah Bano case, where the Rajiv Gandhi government took to appeasement for the sake of vote bank politics, the Centre has now made its stand clear through an affidavit submitted before the apex court on this issue,” said Girish Juyal, national organising convener, MRM.

Citing a historical precedent, Juyal added, “A case of triple talaq came before the Umar Hazrat (583-644 CE), one of the most powerful and influential Muslim caliphs in history. He gave his ruling in favour of the woman and ordered public flogging of the person who had asked for triple talaq. The Quran and the Hadith consider divorce a crime and there’s no mention of ‘triple talaq’ in them. Moreover, other practices like Halala and Musa also ought to be stopped, because they are also demeaning for Indian women.”

However, while the experts laud the Centre for its efforts to empower Muslim women, they also feel a new law needs to be enacted to repeal the Shariyat Act, in order to abolish the existing practice of triple talaq. “Though the court has sent a strong message through its order, that the 7th century Islamic Shariat law needs to be changed, the issue of triple talaq won’t settle unless a new law is made. The SC has to first quash the 1937 Shariat Act,” said Tufail Ahmad, executive director of Open Source Institute, a Delhi-based think tank.

“It’s high time that Islamic clerics understand the importance of the rights granted by the Indian Constitution to all citizens. Triple talaq violates the Constitution. The AIMPLB, or other Muslim organisations like All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, are essentially unconstitutional from the beginning, because they were established with the objective of working against the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution,” Ahmad, a former journalist with BBC World Service, emphasised.

Ahmad recently proposed a draft Uniform Civil Code — the first-ever attempt to bring specific issues before the public for a wider discussion. “Unless the government repeals the Shariat Law of 1937 and 1939, and brings a new law in compliance with the 21st century ensuring protection of the rights of Muslim women, nothing practical is possible,” he said.

What the Shariat Act, 1937 and 1939 is about?

  • Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937: Indian Muslims can contract marriages and effect divorce through various informal ways deemed correct by local Islamic clerics. A Muslim husband must divorce under this law, which means he cannot go to a court for divorce. He is forced to effect his own divorce through a letter, phone call, video or internet. There are two ways to effect divorce: Utter the word talaq three times, unilaterally, thereby ending the marriage. Or, deliver the talaq in three monthly installments — a three-month period during which reconciliation can occur.
  • Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939: This law was written to empower the Muslim women to take, not to give, divorce. Under this law, a Muslim woman can get divorce in two ways: Either she gets the dissolution of her marriage by approaching Islamic clerics; or she can get one by going to a court against her husband.

The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), while condemning the approach of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) towards Indian Muslim women, also hailed the central government’s approach towards triple talaq. It feels that the high court order will finally be upheld by the apex court as well.

“This case of triple talaq won’t be like Shah Bano case, because the then Rajiv Gandhi government had taken a U-turn and the judgment was reversed. We’re confident that in the Supreme Court will also uphold the high court’s order. The Modi government has made its stand clear through an affidavit submitted before the apex court on this issue,” said VHP’s joint international general secretary Dr Surendra Jain.

“The AIMPLB has always condemned any move against triple talaq and has shown severe disregard towards our Constitution and human values. The board even gave death threats to Muslim women. This board can’t be above the Constitution. Moreover, it doesn’t represent the entire Indian Muslim population. This can’t be acceptable in a civilised society. Now, Indian Muslim women want to come out of medieval, barbaric traditions and be liberated,” he added.

The Muslim women’s wing of MRM hailed the HC order as a success, and said 5,000 Muslim women had garnered courage for a signature campaign. “AIMPLB failed to ensure rights to Muslim women. I had questioned the board on why triple talaq hasn’t been discontinued even after more than six decades of Independence. Pakistan doesn’t have triple talaq, but secular India has it, which is a shame. There’s no mention of this concept in the Quran or the Hadis. A hapless Muslim women are thrown out of their houses by husbands by saying, ‘Talaq-talaq-talaq’,” said Reshma Husain, national convener, women’s wing, MRM.

Condemning the vote-bank politics of previous governments, she added, “The previous Congress government used the Muslim community as a vote bank. They failed to separate religion from our Constitution, when it came to provide rights to women. It’s a victory for these 5,000 Muslim sisters who went for a signature campaign to seek deletion of triple talaq. We too have simultaneously undertaken a signature campaign across the country and we expect to get 10 lakh signatures from Muslim women supporting a ban.”

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 21:13 IST

Triple talaq: Allahabad HC verdict may leave a lasting impact on future of gender equality in India

The Allahabad High Court on 8 December delivered its judgment on the very sensitive issue of triple talaq, a judgment that’s sure to have legal as well as political implications, and will have a lasting impact on the future of gender equality in the country. The court said that the practice of triple talaq is unconstitutional, and is by all means, a violation of rights of Muslim women.

Triple talaq or talaq-ul-biddat is a patriarchal Islamic practice of divorce where the man has a right to obtain divorce, instantly, by the mere unequivocal statement of the word “talaq” three successive times. The practice grants men the unbridled power to dissolve a marriage with a single word, without the consent of the wife.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

For years, this form of divorce has been debated by legal experts as well as academicians. In addition, women’s rights activists have also called for the reform of the Muslim personal law that discriminates against women, contributing to violence and abuse, and is against the right to equality.

The order of the Allahabad High Court, calling the practice cruel and demeaning to Muslim women, declared: “No Personal Law Board is above the Constitution.” A single judge bench of Justice Suneet Kumar, who passed the order while hearing the petition of an aggrieved woman whose husband had arbitrarily divorced her, stated: “The personal laws of any community cannot claim supremacy over the rights granted to the individuals by the Constitution.”

He also stated that, “Muslim law, as applied in India, has taken a course contrary to the spirit of what the Prophet or the Holy Quran laid down and the same misconception vitiates the law dealing with the wife’s right to divorce […] it is a popular fallacy that a Muslim male enjoys, under the Quranic Law, unbridled authority to liquidate the marriage.”

Several previous Supreme Court judgments have also attempted to invalidate the infamous practice of triple talaq. In 2002, Shamim Ara v. State of UP and Anr. held that talaq-ul-biddat, though, instantaneous, does not dissolve a marriage nor end the liability of a husband to pay nafaqah or maintenance. In essence, the landmark ruling invalidated arbitrary triple talaq, and became precedent for numerous high court rulings involving Muslim divorce law.

In Bombay High Court judgments such as Najmunbee v S.K. Sikander S.K. Rehman (2004) and Dagdu Pathan v Rahimbi Pathan (2002), it was held that a husband does not have the unrestrained and arbitrary power to repudiate a marriage at will.

Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said the practice cannot be unconstitutional, as “…the practice is a part of Islamic law. The personal law is an integral part of Islam and the two cannot be seen in isolation.”

He has said that he will appeal against this decision.

At this point, there is another plea, of Shayara Bano’s, pending discussion and judgment at the Supreme Court. Bano has challenged the constitutional validity of three rules relating to a Muslim nikah: Triple talaq or talaq-ul-biddat; nikah halala — a practice by which a divorced couple can remarry each other only if the wife marries a second time, consummates this marriage, and then the second marriage is dissolved through death or divorce; and a Muslim man’s right to have four wives (polygamy). Shayara Bano was subjected to an instantaneous triple talaq by her husband after 15 years of marriage, last October. Her plea moves the apex court to declare these repulsive practices as illegal as they clash with fundamental rights under Article 14 (equality before the law), 15 (prohibition of discrimination), 21 (right to life) and 25 (freedom of religion).

The Shayara Bano case will change the way religious personal law interacts with the Constitution, and in all likelihood, will reform Muslim Personal Law in India as well. Nevertheless, this Allahabad High Court judgement paves the road to gender justice and the dismantling of patriarchal tenets by Muslim clerics.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 19:40 IST

Govt welcomes Allahabad HC’s observation on triple talaq; AIMPLB dismissive

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The government and the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board today hailed the observations of the Allahabad High Court on triple talaq as a welcome step, but the All India Muslim Personal Law Board was dismissive, saying the Supreme Court will deliver the final verdict.Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray cautioned that the issue of triple talaq should not go the way of Shah Bano case due to vote bank politics. Welcoming the judgement, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said women should get justice and everyone agrees to it. Shaista Ambar, chairperson of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, who had earlier expressed reservations over a uniform civil code, today said the practice of triple talaq was “unjustified”.AIMPLB dismissive”It is an atrocity…no law of Allah tolerates atrocity,” she said. Amber hoped that Muslim women will get justice based on the Constitution as well as Islamic laws. Minister of State for Women and Child Development Krishna Raj said, “Nobody understood the agony of women. Today, the High Court has taken a welcome step. It will help boost the morale of women.” But the AIMPLB seemed dismissive of the high court’s observations. Its member Kamal Farooqui said the matter of triple talaq is already before the Supreme Court. “So that will be the judgement.”He said the issue of triple talaq is not restricted to Muslims alone. “It is the question of all those religious entities who have been given guarantee under the Constitution to follow their own faith and religion,” he said. Thackeray said the observations should be respected. “It has a lot of importance for the country. Due to vote bank politics, the issue (of triple talaq) should not go the Shah Bano case way,” he cautioned. The court has observed that “divorce is permissible in Islam only in case of extreme emergency. When all efforts for effecting a reconciliation have failed, the parties may proceed to a dissolution of marriage by Talaq or by Khola”.Govt hails HC observationIt has held that triple talaq is “cruel” and raised a question whether the Muslim Personal law could be amended to alleviate the sufferings of Muslim women. Union minister Naidu said that the Constitution was “supreme” and justice should be done with the women of the country without discrimination. “This is a settled fact. Constitution is supreme.Religion is a belief. Law which has been made under the Constitution, everybody should abide by it. I am feeling elated by the observation of the high court. I am satisfied because justice should happen with the women of the country. And there should be no discrimination,” he said.Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju maintained that it was a “welcome observation”. JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi, while welcoming the high court observation, cautioned the government against bringing in the uniform civil code in the light of it. “We respect the observation of the court. No religious binding is above the Constitution. But our Constitution does allow us to perform our religious rituals according to our own religion. We respect it and we want to warn the government, in the light of triple talaq, they must not impose uniform civil code on the minority community,” Tyagi said.BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj said that India is the largest democracy and discrimination between women and men is injustice. “I want to express my gratitude to the HC that it has given such an observation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also said that time has come to put an end to triple talaq. I think under no circumstance, saying talaq, talaq, talaq and getting talaq is acceptable,” he said.Asked if this would become a political issue, he said that his party does not want to make it a political issue as its motto is ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’. “But I am thankful to those Muslim women who have stood up for their own rights and have gone to courts and are demonstrating. We should all support them,” he said. BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said that it was a “fantastic” observation and noted that the fight is being fought by some women from the Muslim community who are against triple talaq.”The fight is within the community by the women who are affected by such derogatory practices. All those people who are doing politics in the name of religion and are denying the human rights to the women of their own community, let me reiterate that this is the law which was enunciated by the court before Shah Bano, after Shah Bano and now,” she said. “I really wish that wisdom prevails, as all these people who are running their shops in the name of religion should shut their shops because it is for the betterment of their community, their sisters and mothers,” she said. Union minister Naidu said that the Constitution was “supreme” and justice should be done with the women of the country without discrimination. “This is a settled fact. Constitution is supreme. Religion is a belief. Law which has been made under the Constitution, everybody should abide by it. I am feeling elated by the observation of the high court.Mixed reaction from political parties I am satisfied because justice should happen with the women of the country. And there should be no discrimination,” he said. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju maintained that it was a “welcome observation”. JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi, while welcoming the high court observation, cautioned the government against bringing in the uniform civil code in the light of it. “We respect the observation of the court. No religious binding is above the Constitution. But our Constitution does allow us to perform our religious rituals according to our own religion. We respect it and we want to warn the government, in the light of triple talaq, they must not impose uniform civil code on the minority community,” Tyagi said. BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj said that India is the largest democracy and discrimination between women and men is injustice.”I want to express my gratitude to the HC that it has given such an observation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also said that time has come to put an end to triple talaq. I think under no circumstance, saying talaq, talaq, talaq and getting talaq is acceptable,” he said. Asked if this would become a political issue, he said that his party does not want to make it a political issue as its motto is ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’. “But I am thankful to those Muslim women who have stood up for their own rights and have gone to courts and are demonstrating. We should all support them,” he said. BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said that it was a “fantastic” observation and noted that the fight is being fought by some women from the Muslim community who are against triple talaq.”The fight is within the community by the women who are affected by such derogatory practices. All those people who are doing politics in the name of religion and are denying the human rights to the women of their own community, let me reiterate that this is the law which was enunciated by the court before Shah Bano, after Shah Bano and now,” she said. “I really wish that wisdom prevails, as all these people who are running their shops in the name of religion should shut their shops because it is for the betterment of their community, their sisters and mothers,” she said.

Triple Talaq: Muslim law board needs a reality check, not overdose of legal options

The Indian Constitution makes some concession for minority communities, religious and otherwise, alright, but it certainly does not say that it would be exercised to the detriment of individuals within the community. It allows every Indian a set of rights, as individuals, not as part of any larger group. Any conflict between the rights of the individual and the privileges of the community has to be viewed from the perspective of the former. The Allahabad High Court’s ruling on Thursday, which says that the practice of triple talaq violates the rights of Muslim women, is thus in perfect agreement with the spirit of our Constitution.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and some other Muslim organisations which have been aggressively defending triple talaq, citing the holy Quran, may not like the court’s judgment but it’s better they understood that the Indian Constitution makes itself very clear on the rights of individuals and no amount of creative interpretation of the concession to communities would change that. It is possible they would provide a communal spin to the judgement but the fact is Constitution is a neutral document. Its principles apply as much to Muslims as to Hindus and other communities.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

In reaction to the Supreme Court’s observation on the issue earlier, the AIMPLB had said that the court was ‘trying to rewrite personal laws in the name of social reform’. Now, if the court did not come to protect the individual, then who would? And what is so wrong with social reform in the first place? Societies evolve by making continuous adjustments to emerging situations within and without. Forces of conservatism accommodate new views while trying their best to keep the core of the faith intact.

That the Muslim community in India has been a spectacular failure in evolving with the times has a lot to do with organisations like the AIMPLB, which do not even think it is ridiculous to openly defend polygamy and the practice of triple talaq. The trouble with the community has been the virtual silence – call it indifference if you please – of its intellectual class on the institutionalised injustice and unfairness within. The absence of debates inside the community on matters society and individual are curiously invisible. How come, for example, no one raised this question on triple talaq: If so many countries have changed to make it woman-friendly what is the problem of the AIMPLB with making a similar change in India?

With the community not ready to address their problems it is obvious that the aggrieved would move courts. The latter would not be guided by the laws of the community but the Indian Constitution. In this case, the community has no reason to cry foul. The organisations unhappy with the judgement have decided to approach the Supreme Court for justice. It is within their rights, but a better idea would be to sit back and introspect.

They cannot resist change forever – the access allowed to women inside Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai is a case in point. They also cannot afford to be in conflict with rights of individuals under the pretext of protecting faith forever. It is for their own survival that they need to be wiser.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 17:18 IST

Triple Talaq: Muslim Personal Law Board runs its own court and exploits govt

Firstly, I welcome the judgment by the Allahabad High Court.

It is important to understand here what the Sharia law is. It is widely believed that triple talaq is part of Sharia law and therefore cannot be interfered with because they are protected under Article 25 of the Constitution. Sharia law is the law of Quran and Hadith, and it encompasses issues that are economical, social, personal in any way they may affect an individual. But it is important to separate between practices that fall under the law and that which do not because the Constitution is often used as an excuse to justify these practices. While on one hand practices like Roza and Namaaz are protected by the Constitution, it makes no mention of marriage-related issues like divorce.

While the Quran guides you for everything, from business related to personal issues, it is impossible to understand why issues like divorce are quashed. If you are prepared to accept the Constitution then what is the problem with accepting the rights it provides as well? A woman has no rights to divorce as per the Quran. Hence, the argument that the issue in itself is addressed within the Sharia law is baseless. Which only begs the question that what exactly is the Constitution protecting here?

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

We need to understand that this has not been just a case, or a ruling, this is the women fighting for their rights in a male-dominated society. And it definitely does not help when all of your Islamic scholars are only half-bred. They learn certain aspects of Islam and stick to it. There are no comparative studies. Whether you talk to a Mufti, or Maulvi or an Alim, their arguments, more often than not, tend to be self-centered, and not universal. I think that is out of fear, because that may result in their shops closing down.

Coming to the Uniform Civil Code, it is crucial to remind ourselves that even Islam calls for a universal law for people regardless of their religion or caste. Upon that, if there exists a uniform criminal law, then why not the same for a civil one. Part of the reason there I believe is because the criminal law was introduced by the British. After Independence, India became secular, and laws like the Sharia, successfully bargained for its existence, even in the modern world. I think it is the very character of secularism of our country that the people protecting Sharia law exploit. But I see the Supreme Court is very serious about bringing in change.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) runs its own court which means they decide civil issues. The fact that they have their own courts, is reason enough to call for a uniform civil code, which is not only gender-just but also unbiased across religions and cultures. These organisations do nothing but only exploit and pressurise the govt.

I must also mention the role of the media here. Social media has changed so many things in our fight for justice. Previously, getting our voice to the people was so difficult. Even today, not a lot of people read newspapers or watch the television for news. Social media is where everything is happening. And it has to a great extent championed our cause as well, and brought us support, not only at a national level, but international as well. I can only be thankful that such means now exist, which may eventually speed up this slow process. Because I’m convinced that it will happen. This ruling is only an indicator and when the Supreme Court passes its judgement, I’m sure it will be in the favour of banning triple-talaq, polygamy and whole host of other issues that we are petitioning for at once.

The author is the president of Rashtrawadi Muslim Mahila Sangh

As told to Manik Sharma

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 16:02 IST

‘Personal law not above Constitution’: Read Allahabad HC observation on Triple Talaq

The Allahabad High Court on Thursday called the practice of triple talaq among Muslims as ‘unconstitutional’. Saying that no personal law board is above the Constitution, the court held that triple talaq violates the fundamental rights of Muslim women.

Here is the operative part of Allahabad High Court’s observation: 

The question which disturbs the Court is should muslim wives suffer this tyranny for all times? Should their personal law remain so cruel towards these unfortunate wives? Whether the personal law can be amended suitably to alleviate their sufferings? The judicial conscience is disturbed at this monstrosity. The first wife has to live life for no fault of her but for the reason that her husband got attracted to a lady half of her age which is the reason for being divorced. The view that the Muslim husband enjoys an arbitrary, unilateral power to inflict evil instant divorce does not accord with Islamic injunctions. It is a popular fallacy that a Muslim male enjoys, under the Quaranic Law, unbridled authority to liquidate the marriage. The whole Quoran expressly forbids a man to seek pretexts for divorcing his wife, so long as she remains faithful and obedient to him. The Islamic law gives to the man primarily the faculty of dissolving the marriage, if the wife, by her indocility or her bad character, renders the married life unhappy; but in the absence of serious reasons, no man can justify a divorce, either in the eye of religion or the law. If he abandons his wife or puts her away in simple caprice, he draws upon himself the divine anger, for the curse of God, said the Prophet, rests on him who repudiates his wife capriciously. In other Islamic State, where the husband must satisfy the court about the reasons for divorce.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

However, Muslim law, as applied in India, has taken a course contrary to the spirit of what the Prophet or the Holy Quoran laid down and the same misconception vitiates the law dealing with the wife’s right to divorce. The divorce is permissible in Islam only in cases of extreme emergency. When all efforts for effecting a reconciliation have failed, the parties may proceed to a dissolution of the marriage by ‘Talaq’ or by ‘Khola’. The statement that “the whimsical and capricious divorce by the husband is good in law, though bad in theology” cannot be approved as the correct law. The correct law of talaq as ordained by the Holy Quran is that talaq must be for a reasonable cause and be preceded by attempts at reconciliation between the husband and the wife by two arbiters- one from the wife’s family and the other from the husband’s; if the attempts fail, talaq may be effected. (Ref: Pathayi v. Moideen 1968 KLT 763; A. Yousuf Rawther Vs. Sowramma, AIR 1971 Kerala 261; referred to with approval by the Supreme Court in Shamim Ara vs State Of U.P. & another : 2002 (7) SCC 518). The decision in Shamim Ara was rendered in 2002, wherein, the observation of the Division Bench judgment of the Kerala High Court was noticed and approved, which was rendered 20-30 years before.

Country has in recent times marched steps ahead in all walks of life including progressive interpretation of laws which cannot be lost sight of except by compromising with regressive trends…. “Law is dynamic and its meaning cannot be pedantic but purposeful.” (Refer– Bai Tahira Vs. Ali Hussain AIR 1979 SC 362).

The purpose of Law in a modern secular State based upon the Constitution is to bring about social change. The muslim community comprise a large percentage of Indian population, therefore, a large section of citizen, in particularly women, cannot be left to themselves to be governed by archaic customs and social practise under the garb of personal law purportedly having divine sanction. The women of the community continue to suffer bias, deprived of the protection, they should otherwise get through provisions in the Constitution that provide for equality and non discrimination.

India is a nation in the making, geographical boundaries alone do not define a nation. It is to be adjudged, amongst others, on the parameter of overall human development and how the society in particular treat their women; leaving such a large population to the whims & fancy of personal law which perpetuate gender inequality and is regressive, is not in the interest of society and the country. It impedes and drags India from becoming a nation. The instant divorce (Triple Talaq) though has been deprecated and not followed by all sects of muslim community in the country, however, is a cruel and the most demeaning form of divorce practised by the muslim community at large. Women cannot remain at the mercy of the patriarchal setup held under the clutches of sundry clerics having their own interpretation of the holy Quoran. Personal laws, of any community, cannot claim supremacy over the rights granted to the individuals by the Constitution.

I would not like to say anything further for the reason that the Supreme Court is seized with the matter.

In Shamim Ara, a statement merely made in the pleadings “written statement” though unsubstantiated that the wife was divorced upon delivering copy of the written statement, was not accepted by the Supreme Court and the subsequent marriage contracted by the husband was held void.

In the facts and circumstances of the present case, the petition stands dismissed. The legality of the marriage/divorce and rights of parties is kept open.

No cost.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 13:23 IST

May direct closure of liquor shops on highways: SC expresses concern on growing road accidents

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Concerned over 1.5 lakh fatalities every year in road mishaps, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said it may direct closure of liquour vend on national and state highways across the nation, besides removal of the signages indicating their location.The apex court, while reserving verdict on a batch of pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways, came down heavily on the Punjab government for seeking relaxation and permitting liquor shops near highways if they are “elevated” ones and the vend are under or near it. “Look at the number of licences you (Punjab) have given. Because the liquor lobby is so powerful, everyone is happy.The excise department is happy, the excise minister is happy and the state government is also happy that they are making money. If a person dies due to this, you give Rs one or 1.5 lakh. That is it. You should take a stand which is helpful for the society,” the bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said. Reminding the state government of its constitutional obligation to prohibit liquor sale, the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said, “You are speaking the langauge of liquor vendors… Is this your endeavour to seek prohibition. Nearly 1.5 lakh people die every year…We are asking you to do something for the general public.”The bench also expressed its unhappiness over alleged inaction by various states in removing liquor shops alongside roads which give rise to drunken driving and consequential fatalities.It said that revenue generation cannot be a “valid reason” for a state or a Union territory to give licence for liquor shops on highways and the authorities should adopt a positive attitude to remove the menace.The court also rapped the Centre for not doing anything concrete leading it to “step in”. “Government of India is now saying that the liquor shops (on the national and state highways) should be removed. For the last 10 years, nothing has happened and that is why we have stepped in,” the bench said. Earlier, the court had sought the response from the Centre, states and Union territories on the pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways. During the hearing, the bench was in disagreement with the suggestion of the Justice (Retd) K S Radhakrishnan committee on road safety that there should not be a liquor shop within 100-metre range of a highway. “We do not understand this 100-metre business. The people will park their vehicles on highways and go to the liqour shops,” it said. The bench indicated that either there should not be any liquor shops near highways or there should not be “signages or hordings or visible advertisements” indicating address of such shops.”Today we are examining whether we can direct closure of all liquor shops on highways or they should be 100 metres away from such highways,” it said at the outset. There are several pleas pending in the apex court on the issue. One of the pleas has referred to the 2015 report of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and said that almost five lakh accidents occurred last year in India, killing 1,46,000 people and leaving thrice the number injured.It has been alleged that despite the recommendation of a committee to ban of sale of alcohol on state and national highway, states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were sticking to their prevailing excise policies under which licences were being issued to liquor shops along the highways.”An analysis of road accident data 2015 reveals that around 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour. “India being a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration, it is imperative that policy guidelines are framed to control road accidents. Also, the excise policies of Indian states and Union territories should be amended to conform to the spirit of Article 47 r/w Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” one of the pleas has said

Why delay Kashmir’s integration with India? Jayalalithaa’s full speech in Rajya Sabha from 1984

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A lot has already been written about J Jayalalithaa since she passed away on December 5. Amma, as she was affectionately known, was a hugely popular leader who combined benevolence for the masses with complete ruthlessness. One of the first instances, when her brilliance came to nationwide prominence was in July 1984 when she ripped then recently dismissed Farooq Abdullah’s state government to shreds in an extremely articulate Rajya Sabha speech. The Abdullah government had been dismissed by Indira Gandhi, and the state was in turmoil. In the speech, Jaya pulled no punches taking the recently dismissed Abdullah government to task for the rise in secessionist incidents in the state, which included disruption of Independence Day celebrations and abuses being hurled at Indian cricketers during a match against West Indies. She took great umbrage at ‘secessionists and terrorists getting combat training in Kashmir’ which Abdullah had called ‘religious training’. The speech didn’t shy away from pulling punches against Telugu Desam Party’s NTR for badmouthing India and praising Yankee culture, and the DMK government for crying ‘death of democracy’.And she ended the speech with two hard questions about the state of Jammu and Kashmir which haunts India till this day: “Finally – I now pose 2 Questions to the Hon. Minister for Home Affairs – 1. Will the Centre consider placing Jammu & Kashmir under Governor’s rule? 61 2. Why delay Jammu & Kashmir being integrated with the rest of the Indian Union and why not bring it under the purview of the Constitution of India, – in conformity with all the other States of the Indian Union?”
ALSO READ Two Jayalalithaas: Autocratic leader, queen of the massesRead the full speech below: Calling attention motion on recent developments in Jammu & Kashmir, 26.7.1984
ALSO READ Amma laid to rest: Post Jayalalithaa, where does Tamil Nadu’s political future lie?At the outset I wish to make one point very clear. It is my own strong conviction as well as the staunch belief and precept of the A.I.A.D.M.K. – that such a constitutional provision should not be allowed to exist in a democracy whereby, a democratically elected government which has won the popular mandate of the people, can be dismissed and thrown out of office with a mere flourish of a pen on paper – with one single stroke of a pen – whereby the signature of one individual has the power to render null and void – the mandate – the sanction and authority to govern a State, which has been bestowed by several millions of people. Jammu & Kashmir is one of the most sensitive border States of India. It is an indisputable fact that various foreign powers have been consistently trying to infiltrate and utilise this State to achieve their own nefarious ends – detrimental to the interest of India. We are faced with the threat of destabilisation both in the North-East and the North-West where secessionist movements are being carried on – which amount practically to unending armed insurgency. Jammu & Kashmir is one such region. There can be no disagreement on the imperative need for particularly strong and tight security in this region. Anyone who has the welfare of India at heart will agree that we cannot afford any laxity in the matter of security and vigilance in this State. We must review some of the recent happenings in Jammu & Kashmir and the explanations that were given in relation to these incidents. Last year on August 15, during the Independence Day parade at the main stadium in Srinagar – when the then Chief Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah was taking the salute, a crude bomb was hurled and went off in the midst of the stadium. One day earlier, on August 14th – Pakistan’s Independence Day – there were scenes of jubilation in various parts of Kashmir. The Pakistani national flag was hoisted on Indian Soil.
ALSO READ RIP Amma: Jayalalithaa’s unfulfilled dream – becoming Prime Minister But when our own Indian National Independence day was being observed the next day – bombs were hurled to disrupt the celebrations. Next, there was also an attempt to blow up a transmission tower on top of Srinagar’s Hari Parbat using high explosives. Again in October there was the infamous incident in Srinagar, when the one-day cricket match between India and the West Indies was nearly abandoned as agitating hordes broke through the fencing and pelted the Indian players with stones. These militant elements raised slogans of “Pakistan Zindabad” and attacked our Indian cricketers. “On that day our Indian players remarked “Are we in India or Pakistan? We really wonder whether we are playing in our own country.” Our cricketers could not go beyond making such mild comments. But when such disturbing incidents occur in succession, what is one to make of them? Are we not led to believe that anti-national elements were given a free hand to assert their presence and militancy in Kashmir? What was the action taken with regard to these incidents? The State Government took a very ambient, leisurely view of these matters. No timely action was taken. No proper investigation was conducted. Finally the Union Home Minister was compelled to begin an independent inquiry into the incidents. When Maqbool Butt the secessionist and terrorist was hanged for murder in Tihar Jail last February 11, he was glorified as a martyr in Kashmir by various groups, who led demonstrations protesting against his execution, and forced the closure of shops and offices. Now I personally, am not trying to insinuate that Dr. Farooq Abdullah has any covert or overt links with Pakistan – but it is very interesting to note that similar protests and demonstrations were held in Pakistan at the same time. All these happenings are a clear indicaion of the extent to which anti-national elements; secessionists, terrorists and’ extremists have been allowed to flourish and gain strength in Kashmir in recent times. So far 7 Indian Airlines planes and 2 Air India planes have been involved in hijackings. Five of them have been hijacked to Lahore in Pakistan. Out of these, in 3 incidents it is noteworthy that the hijackers boarded the plane at Srinagar airport in Kashmir. There were serious charges that secessionists and terrorists were being given combat training in several camps in Kashmir. To these accusations the then Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Dr. Farooq Abdullah replied, that it was only religious training and could not be interfered with or stopped. Afghan rebels are being given training in arms in Pakistan. We all know the identity of the foreign powers which are supplying the weapons and the finances for such training. When the Government of Afghanistan makes this charge what is the explanation that the Pakistan Government offers with regard to this? The same explanation that Farooq Abdullah preferred that it is only religious training. Does this not provide food for thought? With reference to the recent occurrences in Punjab – vast quantities of weapons and highly sophisticated arms were discovered which had been stockpiled by terrorists involved in the incidents there. There was another serious charge levelled by the Centre that the weapons were smuggled from Pakistan through Kashmir to reach Punjab. What was Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s reaction to this extremely grave charge? Dr. Farooq Abdullah replied that it was not the responsibility of the State Government. He contended that the State Police was responsible only for maintaining law and order in the State – and could not be expected to keep a watch over smuggling activities. He insisted that it was essentially the Central Government’s responsibility to maintain vigilance with regard to smuggling of weapons through the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Dr. Farooq Abdullah has been making repeated declarations about his undiluted patriotism, and his unshaken fervent belief in national unity and stability. Personally, I do not doubt Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s loyalty to the nation, to India. But does not his reply to the Centre contradict his own claim about his patriotism? How are we to reconcile his assertion of unshaken loyalty to India with his reply to the Central Government? When the Centre discloses that weapons have been smuggled from a foreign country into India through the State of Jammu & Kashmir – the then Chief Minister responds with the contention that it is not the job of the State Government to keep a watch over such activities. What conclusion would one logically deduce from an answer such as this? Is this the reply expected from a patriotic Indian citizen holding the responsible office of Chief Minister of a sensitive border State? I would request everyone concerned to carefully consider the sequence of events in Jammu & Kashmir during the past one year – and the explanations that were given in relation to those events by the persons responsible for the administration of the State. Because I say this, it does not mean that we support the dismissal of the Farooq Abdullah Government. The A.I.A.D.M.K. Government in Tamil Nadu was dismissed in 1980. Whatever feelings we experienced then, when our State Government was dismissed, we feel the same when we consider the fate of the Farooq Abdullah Government in Jammu & Kashmir. But we must also bear in mind certain other important points in this connection. With reference to the change effected in the Jammu & Kashmir State Government many political parties in the country are denouncing it as a “murder of democracy”. My question is this: How many of these parties have the moral right to do so? One of the parties which is crying itself hoarse about this murder of democracy is the D.M.K. It is the leader of the same D.M.K. who played a key role in bringing about the dismissal of the A.I.A.D.M.K. Government in Tamil Nadu in 1980. The D.M.K. leader camped in New Delhi for several days exclusively for this purpose. He persuaded those at the Centre to dismiss the A.I.A.D.M.K. Government. The very next day after the dismissal was announced, the D.M.K. leader returned to Madras triumphantly. The next morning, when he landed at Meenambakkam Airport in Madras he was accorded a rousing, tremendous reception and hailed as a conquering hero by his partymen. He was garlanded profusely. For what? For bringing about the dismissal of the A.I.A.D.M.K. Government, a Government democratically elected with the overwhelming support of the people. But the very same D.M.K. leader today denounces the change in the Jammu & Kashmir State Government as a murder of democracy. Is this not the greatest irony, the biggest, bitterest joke of the 20th century? The A.I.A.D.M.K. firmly believes in the principle that any democratically elected Government should be allowed to function for its full period. This is our firm policy. At the same time the A.I.A.D.M.K. also maintains that any activity which leads to the disintegration of the country or endangers the security and unity of the nation should not be permitted – not only in a sensitive border State – but in any State in the Indian Union. Another party which condemns this so-called murder of democracy is the Janata Party. The Janata Party, I presume, is a national party. At least that is what we were led to believe until recently. I have a great deal of respect and regard for the Janata Party leaders. But let us take a look at Karnataka. It is the Janata Party which is in power in that State. The Janata Government in Karnataka has decided to accept in toto – the recommendations of the Sarojini Mahishi Committee’s report on job reservation opportunities in public sector undertakings. The recommendations essentially boil down to two dangerously disruptive demands – namely – that in public sector industrial and commercial undertakings in Karnataka – 80% of jobs should be reserved exclusively for Kannadigas – and secondly – the remaining 20% jobs should be given only to those who know the Kannada language. Both demands are dangerously chauvinistic and parochial – containing every element guaranteed to undermine Indian unity and destroy the common rights of Indian citizenship. Yet the Janata Party Government in Karnataka has accepted these recommendations in toto. This is all the more amazing since the Janata party claims to be an all-India party and therefore answerable to the people living in the different States of the Indian Union. If all States were to follow this principle what would happen? The Indian Union would cease to be one country – but get reduced to different countries. Today, when the Farooq Abdullah government is dismissed in Jammu & Kashmir under the provisions of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir – the Janata Party denounces this as a gross violation of democracy. Yet when the same Janata Party came to power at the Centre in 1977 – did it not dismiss several non-Janata State Governments, making use of Article 356 of the Constitution of India? Arguments may be advanced, differentiating between the merits of each case. But the plain unvarnished truth is that when it had the power to do so – the Janata Party did not hesitate to make use of that power, to do exactly what it is protesting against so vehemently today. Next, let us consider the Telugu Desam Party, which is most vociferous in denouncing this murder of democracy. On his return from the United States of America, the Telugu Desam leader, Andhra Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao has gone on record saying that India has made no progress at all in the 37 years after Independence. The Telugu Desam leader is full of praise and is all adulation for Yankee enterprise and Yankee culture. He has gone to the extent of saying that the American roads are more beautiful than the bedrooms of Indian houses. Yet Mr. N.T. Rama Rao the leader of the Telugu Desam Party tries to project himself as a patriot and a national leader. One can say that one’s State, or one’s community or the poor and underprivileged sections of the country have not progressed sufficiently, but how can one say that the country as a whole has not progressed at all? It should be borne in mind that in 1947 the population of India was 30 crores. Today in 1984, it is 75 crores. In the 37 years since Independence India’s population has more than doubled itself. Despite the severe economical restraints – despite having to shoulder the massive burden of caring for, feeding and housing such a vast population – nearly one-sixth of the entire human race in the world today – yet, India has emerged as a colossus among developing countries. Today India is considered a major force to reckon with, respected even by the world’s super powers. India has taken gigantic strides forward in the fields of industry – energy – science and technology. Despite our enormous handicaps, still India has succeeded in establishing itself as one among the 10 nuclear countries in the world. We have sent a scientific team to Antarctica. We have sent an Indian into space. India has several magnificent achievements to her credit. How can anybody say India has made no progress at all? Unfortunately, the Telugu Desam Chief Minister does not seem to regard all this as progress. Does the leader of the Telugu Desam Party, who so openly declares that he is ashamed of his own country – have any moral right to speak about the murder of democracy in this country? Has he not murdered the image of India in the eyes of the world? Now Mr. N.T. Rama Rao has gone to the U.S.A. again for heart surgery. We extend our best wishes to him for a total recovery and for a long life. Before his departure, while referring to the daily allowance in foreign exchange permitted to him by the Government of India – Mr. N.T. Rama Rao angrily asked – “Am I a coolie to be given such a paltry amount as daily allowance?” Is this sort of attitude democratic? I have mentioned these issues only in order to make one point. 60 Amongst the various political parties which are raising a hue and cry about the murder of democracy in Jammu & Kashmir, and claim to be interested in national unity and the welfare of India – whether it be the D.M.K., the Janata – or the Telugu Desam – these parties should first do some soul searching themselves – and others should also give deep thought to the same question – as to whether these parties can truly claim to be national or democratic in character and outlook. I would like to remind them that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. It has been announced that a session of the State Legislative Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir will be convened very shortly – and an opportunity will be given to both groups of the National Conference – to prove on the floor of the House which group has a real majority and is constitutionally entitled to form the Government. Meanwhile – the main issue has yet to be resolved – as to which is the real National Conference – and whether the defectors have voting rights or not. Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s Government has been far from ideal. I am not holding any brief for Dr. Farooq Abdullah. However I do strongly submit that instead of allowing a government based on defections to administer Jammu & Kashmir – it would be better to place the State under Governor’s Rule – until such time as the Centre decides fresh elections may be held. In conclusion – I wish to point out that so long as such a provision which deals with dissolution of a State Assembly or dismissal of a State Government is retained whether it be the Constitution of India or the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir it is bound to be used again and again by the Central Government – irrespective of which party is in power at the Centre. Given certain circumstances, no Central Government can resist the temptation to make use of this provision in the Constitution to suit its own ends. The Congress-I Party has made use of Article 356 to dismiss non-Congress-I State Governments. The Janata Party has also made use of it to dismiss non-Janata State Governments. As mentioned earlier, we ourselves, the A.I.A.D.M.K. have been victims of this provision in the Constitution. The dismissal of the Farooq Abdullah Government in Jammu & Kashmir under the provisions of its separate Constitution is nothing new. It is not the first, nor is it going to be the last such instance in Indian history after Independence _ as long as such a Constitutional provision is allowed to remain. Therefore – if we really want to prevent the recurrence of such undesirable events again – the one and only way is to abolish – to scrap – to completely do way with Article 356 of the Constitution. There is no other way. Finally – I now pose 2 Questions to the Hon. Minister for Home Affairs – 1. Will the Centre consider placing Jammu & Kashmir under Governor’s rule? 61 2. Why delay Jammu & Kashmir being integrated with the rest of the Indian Union and why not bring it under the purview of the Constitution of India, – in conformity with all the other States of the Indian Union?Source: AIADMK Website

No plans for quota to economically weak in general category: Government

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government is not considering any proposal to provide reservation for general category people belonging to economically weaker sections, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday. “At present, there is no proposal under consideration to provide reservation for economically weaker sections among general category people,” Minister of State for Social Justice Krishan Pal Gurjar said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.The minister’s reply assumes significance as earlier his colleague in the same ministry — Ramdas Athawale — had pitched for reservation to the poor belonging to general category.Athawale had said the reservation limit should be raised to 75 per cent from existing around 50 per cent, giving the additional 25 per cent quota to economically weak people of general castes. However, the change should be made without tinkering with the current reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs, the RPI(A) chief had said.At present, according to the Constitution, 15 per cent seats are reserved for SCs, 7.5% for STs and 27% for OBCs in central government-funded higher education institutions, jobs and even in elections.

Govt cancels licence of NGO Lawyers’ Collective run by Indira Jaising

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Licence of an NGO run by noted lawyer Indira Jaising has been cancelled permanently by the government for alleged violation of FCRA, an action termed by the organisation as “preposterous” and an attack on “right to free speech” guaranteed under the Constitution.Jaising, who was the Additional Solicitor General of India under the previous UPA government, had violated Foreign Contribution Regulation Act norms by receiving foreign funds between 2006-07 and 2013-14 when she was a government servant, the order said.Reacting to the government’s move, the NGO issued a statement expressing wonder at how an order could be issued on Sunday when all the government offices are closed.”Lawyers Collective has received an order dated November 27, 2016 cancelling its registration to receive foreign contribution…at its registered office at Mumbai.”The cancellation order is on the grounds that LC allegedly has violated the terms and conditions of its registration certificate, violated the provisions of the FCRA, and most importantly, acted against ‘public interest'”, the statement said even as it noted that “strangely enough, the order is passed on a Sunday, when government offices are closed.In June, the licence of Lawyers’ Collective was suspended by the Narendra Modi government for six months for alleged violation of FCRA by using the funds for rallies, dharna with political “hue and colour”, a charge denied by the association which termed it as an act of “vindictiveness”.The organisation has also been put on the list of 25 NGOs found allegedly taking part in activities detrimental to the country’s interest, official sources said.The Home Ministry earlier had said, “It is really surprising how a senior law officer, such as an ASG can simultaneously and for such a long period be on the rolls of a private entity, being paid (out of foreign contribution) for undisclosed purposes in gross violation of rules applicable to law officers of Union of India”. Jaising, who served as ASG between 2009 and 2014, has represented social activist Teesta Setalvad in an FCRA violation case against Setalvad’s NGO ‘Sabrang Trust’ and ‘Citizens for Justice and Peace’.Jaising and senior Supreme Court lawyer Anand Grover are the office bearers of the Lawyers’ Collective.Grover was part of a lawyers’ team to petition the Supreme Court on behalf of 1993 Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon hours before he was to be hanged.The Lawyers Collective (LC) statement said the order repeats what is alleged in the show cause cum suspension order dated May 31 and “disregards LC’s replies in fact and in law.At the same time, certain new allegations have surfaced such as ‘diversion’ of foreign contribution and utilisation for ‘personal gain’, which are not borne out by the facts or the records, are absolutely false and defamatory.”It is preposterous for the MHA to suggest that LC has no record of work, when the government itself has acknowledged LC’s contributions towards advancing women’s rights, securing access to affordable medicines, protecting the rights of HIV positive people as well as transgender persons and continues to call upon LC for its legal inputs,” the statement said.The statement said the NGO reiterates that the current proceedings under FCRA, including the latest cancellation order, are only a continuation of the harassment and persecution of the organisation, especially of its two trustees and senior advocates Indira Jaising and Anand Grover perpetrated by the government, over last one year.”Both Jaising and Grover have been and are continuing to take up sensitive cases, in their professional capacity, against the powerful functionaries of the present ruling establishment,” the statement said.The action is perceived to be a “clear attack on the right to legal representation of persons who need legal services the most and a gross abuse of powers by the government of the day.”It is also a clear attack on the right to free speech and association guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The entire proceedings against LC under FCRA are nothing but an attempt to discredit the long-standing credibility of the organisation and that of its trustees, and a part of the larger clampdown on civil society spaces in India,” it said.The NGO termed it as “preposterous to allege that LC has acted against public interest whereas LC has always strived to advance public interest through its pioneering work.”LC is exploring all legal options to challenge the cancellation order, including its defamatory contents, and will take necessary action in an appropriate time,” the statement said.

Govt cancels license of lawyer Indira Jaisingh’s NGO for allegedly flouting FCRA norms

New Delhi: Licence of an NGO run by noted lawyer Indira Jaising has been cancelled permanently by the government for alleged violation of FCRA, an action termed by the organisation as “preposterous” and an attack on “right to free speech” guaranteed under the Constitution.

In its order, the Home Ministry claimed that there were discrepancies in foreign contributions cited by Lawyers’ Collective in its returns filed with the government. Jaising, who was the Additional Solicitor General of India under the previous UPA government, had violated Foreign Contribution Regulation Act norms by receiving foreign funds between 2006-07 and 2013-14 when she was a government servant, the order said.

Reacting to the government’s move, the NGO issued a statement expressing wonder how an order could be issued on Sunday when all the government offices are closed.

“Lawyers Collective has received an order dated 27 November, 2016 cancelling its registration to receive foreign contribution…at its registered office at Mumbai.

File image of Indira Jaising. Twitter/@IJaising

File image of Indira Jaising. Twitter/@IJaising

“The cancellation order is on the grounds that LC allegedly has violated the terms and conditions of its registration certificate, violated the provisions of the FCRA, and most importantly, acted against ‘public interest'”, the statement said even as it noted that “strangely enough, the order is passed on a Sunday, when government offices are closed.

In June, the licence of Lawyers’ Collective was suspended by the Narendra Modi government for six months for alleged violation of FCRA by using the funds for rallies, dharna with political “hue and colour”, a charge denied by the association which termed it as an act of “vindictiveness”.

The organisation has also been put on the list of 25 NGOs found allegedly taking part in activities detrimental to the country’s interest, official sources said.

The Home Ministry earlier had said, “It is really surprising how a senior law officer, such as an ASG can simultaneously and for such a long period be on the rolls of a private entity, being paid (out of foreign contribution) for undisclosed purposes in gross violation of rules applicable to law officers of Union of India”.

Jaising, who served as ASG between 2009 and 2014, has represented social activist Teesta Setalvad in an FCRA violation case against Setalvad’s NGO ‘Sabrang Trust’ and ‘Citizens for Justice and Peace’.

Jaising and senior Supreme Court lawyer Anand Grover are the office bearers of the Lawyers’ Collective.

Grover was part of a lawyers’ team to petition the Supreme Court on behalf of 1993 Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon hours before he was to be hanged.

The Lawyers Collective (LC) statement said the order repeats what is alleged in the show cause cum suspension order dated May 31 and “disregards LC’s replies in fact and in law.

At the same time, certain new allegations have surfaced such as ‘diversion’ of foreign contribution and utilisation for ‘personal gain’, which are not borne out by the facts or the records, are absolutely false and defamatory.

“It is preposterous for the MHA to suggest that LC has no record of work, when the government itself has acknowledged LC’s contributions towards advancing women’s rights, securing access to affordable medicines, protecting the rights of HIV positive people as well as transgender persons and continues to call upon LC for its legal inputs,” the statement said.

The statement said the NGO reiterates that the current proceedings under FCRA, including the latest cancellation order, are only a continuation of the harassment and persecution of the organisation, especially of its two trustees and senior advocates Indira Jaising and Anand Grover perpetrated by the government, over last one year.

“Both Jaising and Grover have been and are continuing to take up sensitive cases, in their professional capacity, against the powerful functionaries of the present ruling establishment,” the statement said.

The action is perceived to be a “clear attack on the right to legal representation of persons who need legal services the most and a gross abuse of powers by the government of the day.

“It is also a clear attack on the right to free speech and association guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The entire proceedings against LC under FCRA are nothing but an attempt to discredit the long-standing credibility of the organisation and that of its trustees, and a part of the larger clampdown on civil society spaces in India,” it said.

The NGO termed it as “preposterous to allege that LC has acted against public interest whereas LC has always strived to advance public interest through its pioneering work. “LC is exploring all legal options to challenge the cancellation order, including its defamatory contents, and will take necessary action in an appropriate time,” the statement said.

Jaising, who served as ASG between 2009 and 2014, has represented social activist Teesta Setalvad in an FCRA violation case against Setalvad’s NGO ‘Sabrang Trust’ and ‘Citizens for Justice and Peace’.

Jaising and senior Supreme Court lawyer Anand Grover are the office bearers of the Lawyers’ Collective.

Grover was part of a lawyers’ team to petition the Supreme Court on behalf of 1993 Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon hours before he was to be hanged.

The Lawyers Collective (LC) statement said the order repeats what is alleged in the show cause cum suspension order dated May 31 and “disregards LC’s replies in fact and in law. At the same time, certain new allegations have surfaced such as ‘diversion’ of foreign contribution and utilisation for ‘personal gain’, which are not borne out by the facts or the records, are absolutely false and defamatory.

“It is preposterous for the MHA to suggest that LC has no record of work, when the government itself has acknowledged LC’s contributions towards advancing women’s rights, securing access to affordable medicines, protecting the rights of HIV positive people as well as transgender persons and continues to call upon LC for its legal inputs,” the statement said.

The statement said the NGO reiterates that the current proceedings under FCRA, including the latest cancellation order, are only a continuation of the harassment and persecution of the organisation, especially of its two trustees and senior advocates Indira Jaising and Anand Grover perpetrated by the government, over last one year.

“Both Jaising and Grover have been and are continuing to take up sensitive cases, in their professional capacity, against the powerful functionaries of the present ruling establishment,” the statement said.

The action is perceived to be a “clear attack on the right to legal representation of persons who need legal services the most and a gross abuse of powers by the government of the day.

“It is also a clear attack on the right to free speech and association guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The entire proceedings against LC under FCRA are nothing but an attempt to discredit the long-standing credibility of the organisation and that of its trustees, and a part of the larger clampdown on civil society spaces in India,” it said.

The NGO termed it as “preposterous to allege that LC has acted against public interest whereas LC has always strived to advance public interest through its pioneering work. “LC is exploring all legal options to challenge the cancellation order, including its defamatory contents, and will take necessary action in an appropriate time,” the statement said.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 17:21 IST

Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar: What you should know about the new Chief Justice of India

Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, who led the five-judge constitution bench in the Supreme Court which had struck down the controversial National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act for the appointment of judges, was on Tuesday recommended as the 44th Chief Justice of India.

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Tuesday wrote a letter recommending the name of Khehar, who is the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court to be his successor.

First CJI from the Sikh community

Justice Khehar, 64, will be the first Chief Justice from the Sikh community and he will succeed CJI Thakur who will be demitting office on 3 January, 2017.

File image of . Twitter @AarushianaSinghFile image of . Twitter @AarushianaSingh

File image of Justice Khehar. Twitter @AarushianaSingh

Having received his LLB and LLM from Punjab University, Chandigarh, Khehar was awarded Gold Medal for securing the first position in the university in LLM examination.

Before being elevated as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh on 8 February, 1999, Khehar had practised before it as well as the Himachal Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court. He was twice appointed as the acting chief justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court from 2 August, 2008, and again from 17 November, 2009.

He was elevated as chief justice of Uttarakhand High Court on 29 November, 2009. Later he was transferred as chief justice of Karnataka High Court. He was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court on 13 September, 2011.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, lawyers and former judges of the Punjab and Haryana high court have described him as a hardworking and competent lawyer, a self-made person, who was destined to scale new heights.

Khehar, who will be sworn in on 4 January, will hold the tenure for over seven months until 27 August, 2017.

NJAC

Considered to be a strong judge, Khehar presided over the constitution bench that junked the NJAC as unconstitutional holding that it intruded upon the independence of the judiciary.

The government had sought to replace the existing collegium system for the appointment of judges to higher judiciary by the NJAC mechanism through the enactment of Constitution’s 99th amendment that had put in place NJAC and the NJAC Act, 2014.

President’s Rule, Subrata Roy and more

Khehar also presided over the five judges’ constitution bench that had quashed the then Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s decision to prepone the assembly session from January 2016 to December as it directed the restoration of ousted Chief Minister Nabam Tuki’s government.

But subsequent political developments in Arunachal Pradesh took a different course.

He was also a part of the bench which sent Sahara chief Subrata Roy to jail while hearing the matter relating to the refund of money invested by people in his two companies.

Khehar also headed a bench which recently gave a significant verdict holding that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ has to be made applicable to those engaged as daily wagers, casual and contractual employees who perform the same duties as the regulars.

Turf war between the judiciary and the executive

While the turf war between the judiciary and the executive over the appointment of judges for higher judiciary has intensified, Khehar on the occasion of Constitution Day on 26 November had responded to the tirade from Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi by saying that the judiciary was working within its “lakshman rekha“.

“Judiciary is mandated to shield all persons, citizens and non-citizens alike, against discrimination and abuse of State power. Liberty, equality and dignity of the citizen have flourished substantially in India due to the pro-active role of the judiciary in the country,” he had said.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 12:47 IST

Indira Jaising’s NGO responds to cancellation of its FCRA license by MHA

In June 2016, the licence of an NGO run by noted lawyer Indira Jaising — Lawyers’ Collective —was suspended by the Narendra Modi government for a period of six months for the alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). The NGO was accused of using funds for rallies and dharnas with a political “hue and colour”, a charge denied by the association which termed it as an act of “vindictiveness”.

Six months later, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cancelled the NGO’s FCRA registration permanently, thereby barring the organisation from receiving foreign funds.

File image of Indira Jaising. Twitter/@IJaisingFile image of Indira Jaising. Twitter/@IJaising

File image of Indira Jaising. Twitter/@IJaising

In its order, dated 27 November, the ministry alleged that there were discrepancies in foreign contributions cited by Lawyers’ Collective in its returns filed with the MHA, reports The Indian Express. The order also stated that Jaising had violated FCRA norms by receiving foreign funds when she was a government servant.

The following is the response by the Lawyers Collective to the cancellation of its FCRA license:

Lawyers Collective has received an order dated 27 November, 2016 cancelling its registration to receive foreign contribution under Section 14, Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, on 29 November, 2016 at its registered office at Mumbai.

The cancellation order is not only mala fide but also incorrect on facts and bad in law. The allegations are basically reiterate what was said in the suspension order dated 31 May, 2016, with no application of mind. It was issued on a Sunday by the undersecretary to the government of India. It is not known who took the decision to cancel the registration. Other organisation in similar circumstances, particularity Greenpeace, have had their registration renewed, whereas our registration has been cancelled and our renewal declined on the basis of unknown “agency and filed reports” indicating clearly that we have been singled out for political reasons by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

LC reiterates that the current proceedings under FCRA, including the latest cancellation order, are only a continuation of the harassment and persecution of the organisation, especially of its two trustees, Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, senior advocates, perpetrated by the government, over last one year. Both Jaising and Grover have been and are continuing to take up sensitive cases, in their professional capacity, against the powerful leaders of the present ruling establishment. This is an attack on the right to legal representation of persons who need legal services the most and a gross abuse of powers by the government of the day. It is also a clear attack on the right of free speech and association guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

The entire proceedings against LC under FCRA are nothing but an attempt to discredit the long-standing credibility of the organisation and that of its trustees, and a part of the larger clampdown on civil society spaces in India. LC is exploring all legal options to challenge the cancellation order and will take necessary action in an appropriate time.

LC is proud of its work done in the past on advancing women’s rights, access to medicines and rights of people living with HIV and other marginalised groups, with or without foreign contribution and will continue to do so.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 09:29 IST

Tributes paid to BR Ambedkar on 60th death anniversary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rich tributes were on Tuesday paid to the architect of Constitution, B R Ambedkar on his 60th death anniversary, observed as ‘Mahaparinirvan Din’ by thousands of followers from all over the state who converged at his memorial ‘Chaityabhoomi’ near Shivaji Park in Dadar.Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Education Minister Vinod Tawde were among the leaders who paid homage to Ambedkar at the ‘Chaityabhoomi’. At Mantralaya, the state Secretariat, floral tributes were offered to the late leader. At Vidhan Bhawan, Legislature staff paid tributes to Ambedkar.The city’s public transport wing, BEST undertaking, ran special buses between Dadar and Shivaji Park, an official said, adding food stalls were also being put up to provide free snacks. The BMC has installed temporary sheds, mobile toilets and six medical stalls at Shivaji Park, Dadar Station, at Rajgriha (Ambedkar’s residence) and Kurla Terminus.Drinking water arrangements were also made at Shivaji Park, the official said.

Up to states to make national anthem compulsory in govt schools: Bihar Minister

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre does not propose to make singing of the national anthem mandatory in all government and government-aided schools, and it is up to the states to take necessary action for observance of provisions of the RTE Act and Constitution concerning the same, Lok Sabha was informed on Monday.Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Upendra Kushwaha made a statement in Lok Sabha when he was asked whether the Centre proposes to make singing of the national anthem mandatory in all government and government- aided schools. “No, Madam,” Kushwaha said, addressing the Speaker.Citing the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, Kushwaha said it provides for free and compulsory education to every child of age 6 to 14 in a neighbourhood school till the completion of elementary education in all states and UTs except Jammu and Kashmir.Section 29(2)(a) of the RTE Act provides that the academic authority, while laying down the curriculum and the evaluation procedure under sub-section (1), shall take into consideration conformity with the values enshrined in the Constitution. “Further, Article 51-A (a) of the Constitution of India mentions that it shall be the duty of the every citizen of India to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag and the national anthem. As education is in the concurrent list and a majority of schools are under the jurisdiction of the state governments and UT administrations, it is for them to take necessary action for observance of the above provisions of the RTE Act and the Constitution of India,” he said.

National Anthem: Why stop at cinema halls? SC should hold patriotism tests in the judiciary as well

A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Dipak Mishra issued an interim order on 30 November to create the legal framework for the national anthem etiquette, of all places, in cinema halls. This order quickly made its way to national, nay, international headlines. All self-proclaimed patriots and nationalists – in both the Congress and the BJP camp – hailed the court order as a service to the motherland. The left-liberal thinkers, however, denounced the order as a poor reflection on the apex court’s legal and intellectual standing.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, noted columnist for The Indian Express, wrote: “This is a judgment that cannot even bear the slightest weight of analysis, and does not bring any credit to the court. It would be easy to dismiss it as an outlier, a poor performance by a couple of judges… The poor quality of these kinds of orders brings out in the open what many citizens feel, but are often too afraid to express: The Supreme Court has been singularly bereft of the kind of imaginative legal and intellectual leadership that establishes court’s authority.”

A Supreme Court bench issued an interim order on 30 November to create the legal framework for our national anthem etiquette. Reuters file image

A Supreme Court bench issued an interim order on 30 November to create the legal framework for the national anthem etiquette. Reuters file image

The fact, however, is that there have been many occasions when the Supreme Court judges have demonstrated their high legal and intellectual standing by delivering outstanding judgments. Take the case of Bijoe Emmanuel & Others vs State of Kerala and Others. In this case, three children belonging to a sect called Jehova’s Witness refused to sing the national anthem in the morning assembly on the ground, stating that it was against their religious faith. These students were consequently expelled from the school. This decision was challenged in the Supreme Court.

Justice O Chinappa Reddy and Justice MM Dutt, two outstanding judges of the apex court, in August 1986 ordered the school to revoke the expulsion of the three students. The judges termed the expulsion as a “violation of the fundamental rights to freedom of conscience and freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.”

“There is no provision of law which obliges anyone to sing the national anthem. Our tradition teaches tolerance; our philosophy preaches tolerance; our Constitution practises tolerance; let us not dilute it,” the judges had said.

Justice Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy did precisely what Justices Reddy-Dutt had warned against. The 30 November order diluted the very letter and spirit of our Constitution when it came down hard on the claims of individual rights: “It does not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights that have individually thought of have no space (sic). The idea is constitutionally impermissible,” the judges had noted.

The order stated that, “all cinema halls in India shall play the National Anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the National Anthem…We have so directed as Mukul Rohtagi, learned Attorney General for India, submits with all humility at his command and recommend (sic) that National Anthem has to be respected.”

This gives rise to a pertinent question: If there is such a rare convergence of opinion between the judiciary and the executive (as the attorney general represents the view of the Central government), then why didn’t the Supreme Court bench ask the executive to move the legislature to pass a law on the national anthem etiquette?

The apex court had invoked the authority of the legislature when the petition seeking the scrapping of Section 377 (that criminalises consensual sex between LGBTI partners) came before it; the judiciary did not want to perform a legislative function then. The Court had asked the legislature to take a call on Section 377 when it knew that the executive was not favourable to it.

But when the court knows that the government of the day has no disagreement with its invocation that “love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag…it would instil the feeling within one, a sense committed patriotism and nationalism (sic)”, it could have instructed the executive to initiate legislative action. But it did not.

What is more baffling is that the court decided to issue an interim order. Interim orders are mostly prayed for – and granted – when delay in dispensation of justice would amount to denial of justice for an individual or an institution. There are millions of cases in several courts – there must be many before the bench headed by Justice Mishra – which are crying out for immediate attention as petitioners need to be judicially rescued from wolves of various kinds, government or otherwise. A decision on national anthem etiquette could have waited, considering the judicial logjam.

Even if the judges thought that such a decision was urgently needed, why did they have to display their obsession with cinema hall goers exhibiting patriotism? Why should someone who has gone to watch a late night Sunny Leone film for voyeuristic pleasure be forced to demonstrate his patriotic credentials? Why can’t this kind of patriotism be on display in the precincts of major institutions that represent and speak for the nation?

Why is it that the same SC bench, which issued the order on 30 November, refused to entertain, just two days later, a plea of a lawyer that “national anthem be played not only in cinema halls but also in courts across the country before the start of daily proceedings”?

Is patriotism limited to the movie viewing public?

It is said that charity begins at home. The Supreme Court bench would have set an example by making the judiciary the apostle of the patriotic spirit by agreeing to the lawyer’s plea.

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 15:03 IST

‘Judiciary’s over-enthusiasm’: Experts weigh in on SC order on National Anthem

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court order directing cinema halls to play the national anthem before screening to “instill committed patriotism and nationalism” has received mixed reactions from legal experts with a few terming it as “judiciary’s over-enthusiasm” and others saying playing it and respecting it won’t cause any harm. While former Attorney General and noted lawyer Soli Sorabjee said courts cannot direct the public to stand up and do anything, senior advocate K T S Tulsi said judiciary should not go into the areas which does not belong to it.However, Meenakshi Lekhi, a lawyer and BJP MP from New Delhi constituency, has no reservation on the Supreme Court order saying respecting the anthem “causes no harm”.”National anthem is sung at various places like schools, public functions, events etc. What’s the harm in playing it at another venue? It causes no harm and it is natural to stand up when the anthem is played,” she said.Tulsi and senior advocate K K Venugopal were of the view that this order could lead to law-and-order problem as it would be difficult for theatre owners to make people stand especially children and elderly viewers or those who are physically challenged.Sorabjee, who termed the order as judiciary’s over enthusiasm, said, “They can give directions to the executive government to amend the acts. But they can’t give directions by themselves to stand up, to do this, do that.” Lekhi said the law is clear about the national anthem as it was already mentioned in the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act. “The court had just read the law,” she said, adding that people living in the country must abide by the law of the land. Meanwhile, Tulsi reminded the judiciary that its primary responsibility is “adjudication”. “Courts must think through on what is their jurisdiction.Their primary responsibility is adjudication. Adjudication is getting delaying for decades and we are going into areas which don’t belong to us,” he said.”I don’t agree with the judgement at all. Firstly it’s not the function of the courts to decide what public behaviour is ought to be. It will create a huge problem to ensure that the national anthem is not disrespected,” Tulsi said, adding some persons may even overreact and may result in a fist fight when a disabled-man or somebody chose not to stand up.Lekhi also said respecting the anthem is secular and added every law has its foundation in the Constitution of the country. “The way every country exists depends upon the law of the country. Law of the land and Constitution is unbreachable,” she added. “When we can claim the Freedom of Religion, Speech and Expression and other Fundamental Freedoms under the Constitution, why can’t we obey the Fundamental Duties under the same,” she asked. Venugopal expressed views similar to Tulsi, echoing concerns of theatre owners that they would not be able to make people stand and said the court could have recommended the amendment of Cinematograph Rules. “The theatre owners would not be able to make people stand, therefore it would have been more appropriate if the court had recommended the government to amend Cinematograph Rules to provide for the playing of the national anthem and the compulsion to stand while it is being played,” he said.The apex court in its November 30 order had said, “A time has come when citizens of the country must realise that they live in a nation and are duty-bound to show respect to the national anthem which is the symbol of constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality.” The bench, which passed the order on a PIL, had also issued a slew of directions to ensure respect for anthem while it would be played in the cinema halls which included the closure of entry and exit doors so as to avoid any kind of disturbance.The Centre had said that the anthem has to be respected and assured the bench that the order of the court would be circulated to the chief secretaries of all the states and Union territories.

India supports Nepal Constitution amendment process

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Welcoming the move to amend the Constitution by the Nepal government, India on Sunday expressed support for ongoing efforts to meet the aspirations of all sections of the Nepalese people.”Peace, progress, and stability of Nepal is in interest of both India and Nepal. We have been supportive of the initiative of the Nepal government to meet the aspiration of all sectors of society through dialogue and constitutional process,” the Indian Embassy said in a statement.”India will continue to support Nepal’s peace, stability, and accelerated economic development as per the priorities of the people and government of Nepal,” it said.The Constitution promulgated last year could not be implemented due to the agitation by the Madhesis, mostly Indian-origin. Amendment of the Constitution to redraw the provincial boundary of the country is the key demand of the Madhesi parties. The Madhesi Front last week refused to back the Constitution amendment bill, saying it was not acceptable in its current discriminatory form.The United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) and the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal (FSF-N) stated that they cannot accept the Constitution amendment bill which has been registered in Parliament by Nepal’s government despite opposition from CPN-UML.

National Anthem verdict: Experts have different views on the Supreme Court’s interim order

New Delhi: The Supreme Court order directing cinema halls to play the national anthem before screening to “instill committed patriotism and nationalism” has received mixed reactions from legal experts with a few terming it as “judiciary’s over-enthusiasm” and others saying playing it and respecting it won’t cause any harm. While former Attorney General and noted lawyer Soli Sorabjee said courts cannot direct the public to stand up and do anything, senior advocate KTS Tulsi said judiciary should not go into the areas which does not belong to it.

However, Meenakshi Lekhi, a lawyer and BJP MP from New Delhi constituency, has no reservation on the Supreme Court order saying respecting the anthem “causes no harm”. “National anthem is sung at various places like schools, public functions, events etc. What’s the harm in playing it at another venue? It causes no harm and it is natural to stand up when the anthem is played,” she said. Tulsi and senior advocate KK Venugopal were of the view that this order could lead to law-and-order problem as it would be difficult for theatre owners to make people stand especially children and elderly viewers or those who are physically challenged. Sorabjee, who termed the order as judiciary’s over enthusiasm, said, “They can give directions to the executive government to amend the acts. But they can’t give directions by themselves to stand up, to do this, do that.”

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Lekhi said the law is clear about the national anthem as it was already mentioned in the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act. “The court had just read the law,” she said, adding that people living in the country must abide by the law of the land. Meanwhile, Tulsi reminded the judiciary that its primary responsibility is “adjudication”. “Courts must think through on what is their jurisdiction. Their primary responsibility is adjudication. Adjudication is getting delaying for decades and we are going into areas which don’t belong to us,” he said.

“I don’t agree with the judgement at all. Firstly it’s not the function of the courts to decide what public behaviour is ought to be. It will create a huge problem to ensure that the national anthem is not disrespected,” Tulsi said, adding some persons may even overreact and may result in a fist fight when a disabled-man or somebody chose not to stand up.

Lekhi also said respecting the anthem is secular and added every law has its foundation in the Constitution of the country. “The way every country exists depends upon the law of the country. Law of the land and Constitution is unbreachable,” she added. “When we can claim the Freedom of Religion, Speech and Expression and other Fundamental Freedoms under the Constitution, why can’t we obey the Fundamental Duties under the same,” she asked.

Venugopal expressed views similar to Tulsi, echoing concerns of theatre owners that they would not be able to make people stand and said the court could have recommended the amendment of Cinematograph Rules. “The theatre owners would not be able to make people stand, therefore it would have been more appropriate if the court had recommended the government to amend Cinematograph Rules to provide for the playing of the national anthem and the compulsion to stand while it is being played,” he said.

The apex court in its 30 November order had said, “A time has come when citizens of the country must realise that they live in a nation and are duty-bound to show respect to the national anthem which is the symbol of constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality.” The bench, which passed the order on a PIL, had also issued a slew of directions to ensure respect for anthem while it would be played in the cinema halls which included the closure of entry and exit doors so as to avoid any kind of disturbance.

The Centre had said that the anthem has to be respected and assured the bench that the order of the court would be circulated to the chief secretaries of all the states and Union territories.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 10:35 IST

Mahanadi water dispute: Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik moves Supreme Court

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday said the state has sought an injunction from the Supreme Court against Chhattisgarh’s “unilateral” constructions on the Mahanadi river. war-zone

The suit was filed under Article 131 of the Constitution on 2 December.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. PTI

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. PTI

The injunction sought was against the continuation of construction of ongoing projects and future projects in the upper catchment of the river, Patnaik informed the Odisha Assembly during the zero hour.

He said the “illegal actions” of the Chhattisgarh government in “unilaterally planning and constructing projects and barrages would spell socio-economic and ecological hazard” to Odisha and its inhabitants.

He also said that the state government would take all out action to protect the interest of Oriya people.

“We have claimed as part of our equitable share a minimum flow of 12.28 million acre feet of Mahanadi water at Hirakud dam as per the DPR of Hirakud project of 1947 and a further utilisation of 3.67 million acre feet in the surplus flows,” said Patnaik.

He said the state government had filed a statutory complaint on November 22, before the Centre under Section three of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956, for the constitution of Inter-State Tribunal to resolve the water dispute between the two states.

It had urged for the constitution of a tribunal to adjudicate the water disputes arising from unilaterally planned utilisation of 27.48 million acre feet of Mahanadi water by Chhattisgarh as against a total availability of minimum flow in Mahanadi river of 20.61 million acre feet.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 18:20 IST

If GST not rolled out by Sept, there won’t be taxation in country, warns Jaitley

New Delhi – Citing constitutional compulsion, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today sought to drive home the point that the Goods and Services Tax has to roll out before September 16 next year as the existing indirect taxes will come to an end by then and it would not be possible to run the country without revenue collection.

He made a pitch for widening the tax base, saying efforts are on to make taxation process far simpler and make rates more reasonable.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file photoFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file photo

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file photo

For instance, he said, the GST Council is deliberating on ways to reduce the taxation process, including assessment by tax officials.

“Today, each person gets assessed thrice, in each of the three taxations (including VAT and central excise). Now, you will only be assessed once and what one authority assesses, others will have to accept that assessment,” he said.

Terming GST as a game changer, Jaitley said: “The Constitution does not permit delay in GST implementation. The government notified GST on 16 September and the constitutional amendment itself says the current indirect tax system can continue for one year, after which the GST has to come.”

So, if as on 16 September 2017, there is no GST, then there is no taxation in the country, he reasoned.

“So, you have a constitutional compulsion to have a Goods and Services Tax in place before September 16 (2017), otherwise the country doesn’t run, and the tax is absolutely essential. Therefore, our intention is it gets implemented from April 1, 2017, that was the original intention,” he said.

Jaitley made the point that states should not oppose every reform for the sake of opposition because that makes investors wary.

“The states must welcome the decision and I can only tell you, if some states are seen as opposing every reform, then investors in the country and the ones coming from outside, must decide which are the states they want to invest in,” he cautioned.

“So, if your state is seen on the wrong side of the reform, then investors are going to be very wary of those states.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 10:26 IST

Routine army exercise in Kolkata derails Parliament session

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Opposition parties led by Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Friday raised the issue of the presence of Army personnel at toll plazas ‘in various parts’ of West Bengal in both Houses of Parliament. In Kolkata, a furious Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said army deployment was in “clear violation of the Constitution” and was a bid to “create a civil war like situation in the country”. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, however, rejected the allegation, describing it as a routine exercise which was earlier conducted in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. “It is done in different states with the consent of officials,” said Parrikar. Protesting Banerjee spent the night in the Secretariat in Kolkata dubbing it as a ‘military coup’.On Thursday, soldiers in fatigues were seen checking vehicles at the Vidyasagar Setu toll plaza in Howrah about 500 metres away from Nabanna, the state secretariat, which also houses the Chief Minister’s office. Banerjee tweeted, “Very unfortunate. Army stationed in front of Nabanna the Bengal State Secretariat in a high security zone, in spite of Police objection… I am waiting here at the Secretariat and watching, to guard our democracy.”The Opposition that saw a conspiracy in the emergency landing of her service flight in Kolkata on Wednesday evening despite pilot’s alarm over the fuel running short, whipped up a charge of attempt to throw her out of power with the Army’s help.There was a slanging match of allegations for over half an hour until Parrikar in the Lok Sabha and his MoS Subhash Bhamre in the Rajya Sabha were able to explain that it was a routine data collection exercise carried out by the army every year on availability of vehicles during any emergency. The Army also released letters to show that it was in communication with the WB police.

Supreme Court devises a Tebbit Test around the national anthem, then goes on the backfoot

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A truckload of criticism appears to have forced the Supreme Court to realise its error and eat its hat. On Friday, the court ruled that despite its interim order dictating so, it won’t make the singing of the national anthem compulsory before every movie screening, and a fresh plea would have to be filed to adjudicate upon the same. This does not exonerate the SC, because its direction to file a fresh plea is based only on technical grounds. There is no judicial reasoning whatsoever, as it was in the interim order. There is a difference between changing stances due to adverse public opinion, and laying down law in the first place (because according to Article 141 of the constitution, Supreme Court rulings form an integral part of the law of the land).”History repeats itself, first as a tragedy then as a farce”, Marx had said. Justice Dipak Misra, now a judge of the Supreme Court, by his latest ruling of making the singing of the national anthem mandatory before every movie screening, seems to have proved how prophetically true Marx’s words were. Fifteen years ago, when he was adorning the Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, Justice Misra had ruled that not standing up while the national anthem is being sung, or showing any form of disrespect to it, were acts of ‘deviance’ and ‘anti-nationalism’. Now, by his latest interim order to all state governments, the Centre, and movie theatres, Justice Misra has only cemented what many jurists and lawyers had said at that time- that he wouldn’t ever hesitate to enforce some sort of “acid test for nationalism”. Of late, India and Japan have been sharing close ties, with the former pulling out all stops to woo the latter, and emulate its policies. Now it appears as if India’s Supreme Court has gone out on a limb to strengthen this fledgling bond. This is because on 30 November, a Division Bench of the top court decided to take a leaf out of its Japanese counterpart’s book and make the singing of the national anthem mandatory. As many critics of the ruling have aptly stated and observed, the court’s ruling flies in the face of both the letter and spirit of the constitution, and in fact, violates the precedent it had itself set many years ago.The verdict of legal scholars and astute political analysts is clear- it would require a “willing suspension of disbelief” to swallow the apex court’s bulldozing of precedent and enforcing “patriotism”.In 2012, by a 4-1 ruling, Japan’s Supreme Court dismissed the petition of 375 teachers and some students against the then Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara’s 2003 diktat that everyone must stand and sing when the Kimigayo, the Japanese national anthem, is being played in public.By laying down seven binding guidelines regarding the singing of the national anthem before every movie is screened in a theatre or auditorium, India’s Supreme Court, it would not be unfair to say, has surpassed even Japan’s top court in cracking the whip.The court, acting on the writ petition filed by a now-78 retired engineer Shyam Narayan Chouksey 15 years ago, appears to have been obeying the government’s November order from last year that the National Anthem must be sung at all school assemblies, and everyone present must stand in rapt attention during those 52 seconds till which the anthem lasts. It is a different matter that the government withdrew its directive after there was a furore, and has not enforced it since.There are glaring faultlines- both legal and moral, in the Supreme Court’s ruling.First and foremost, the court (it’s important to remember that a judge doesn’t act as an individual, but as a part, and representative of, an institution- in this case, the judiciary- as a whole) relies upon the legally-unenforceable Article 51A of the Constitution to issue a legal imprimatur. 51A, enacted when the Emergency was in force, contains a list of Fundamental Duties, one of which is to ‘respect national values’. But the constitution itself prohibits any court from giving any binding directive based on the provisions of 51A.Second, the court’s ruling is eerily reminiscent of the US Supreme Court’s 1940 judgement in Minersvillle School District v Gobitis, where it was held that students belonging to the Jehovah’s Witness sect of Christianity were to be penalised for not singing the national anthem or taking the pledge of allegiance. Justice Felix Frankfurter, writing for the bench, ruled that, “We are dealing with an interest inferior to none in the hierarchy of legal values. National unity is the basis of national security.”. That ruling was handed down at a time when Nazi Legions were marauding towards Paris, and the world was caught in the throes of war. Is our Supreme Court imagining that India is at war? It is only stoking flames of the acrimonious rage of “anti-nationalism” which threatens to engulf anyone who dares to voice dissent against majoritarianism and everything it brings in its wake. Third, in 1986, the Supreme Court, in the Bijoe Emmanuel (Jehovah’s Witness) case, ruled that the Minersville judgement would not be applicable in India. The court ruled that students belonging to the sect cannot be penalised for not singing the national anthem. The Court’s sudden backtracking shows that sometimes an upsurge of public criticism and backlash does manage to shake up some judicial pillars. One wishes that the court follows the same course instead of threatening journalists and dissenters with criminal contempt.

National Anthem: Forcing citizens to honour nation is greatest insult to India’s honour

What does it mean to love one’s country? Tagore clearly loved his country. He loved it so much that he wrote a song called Bhārat Bhāgya Vidhātā in the year 1911 about an eternal charioteer guiding his country through the ages and dispensing it’s destiny. On 24 January, 1950, the President of the Constituent Assembly of India, Rajendra Prasad made a statement in the house declaring that Jana Gana Mana was to be the National Anthem of our new republic and it has stood us well over the years.

The National Anthem of India does not find reference in the constitution save a reference made in Article 51A wherein citizens are called upon to respect it. The Constitution of India does not entrench the National Anthem and neither does it entrench the National Flag. These being highly emotive issues are not formalised either by virtue of legislation but are based on a broad consensus that is recognised by the executive. To quote the President of the Constituent Assembly on January 24, 1950:

“There is one matter which has been pending for discussion, namely the question of the National Anthem. At one time it was thought that the matter might be brought up before the House and a decision taken by the House by way of a resolution. But it has been felt that, instead of taking a formal decision by means of a resolution, it is better if I make a statement with regard to the National Anthem. Accordingly I make this statement. The composition consisting of the words and music known as Jana Gana Mana is the National Anthem of India, subject to such alterations in the words as the Government may authorise as occasion arises; and the song Vande Mataram, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and shall have equal status with it. (Applause). I hope this will satisfy the Members.” 

Since then the Government of India has regulated the the National Anthem and how it is supposed to be sung by orders issued by the Ministry of Home affairs and this begs the question. Why is that something, that is of most manifest constitutional importance, is not entrenched in the Constitution? The Constitution of India is the longest Constitution of any country in the world and yet no where, not in any article or schedule has the national anthem been defined. The only thing we have is a statement of the President of the Constituent Assembly and the orders of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

There are legislations that protect the National Anthem, such as the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 which provide protection to the National Anthem, thereby recognising its importance, but never entrenching it into law.

There has perhaps been no other fifty-two second piece of music that is more recognisable across the country and our national anthem has served its purpose as a symbol of national unity. But here’s what makes our national anthem different from God Save the Queen, or the Star Spangled Banner or La Marseillaise. Jana Gana Mana is not the assertion of India’s sovereignty. Jana Gana Mana is an assertion of thanks. When we sing Jana Gana Mana we give thanks to the Bhārat Bhāgya Vidhātā for guiding us through the last five thousand odd years of our civilisation and we ask for guidance in the future by praying for a victorious destiny. In some ways, it is a song of prayer.

The reason Jana Gana Mana is not entrenched in our Constitution or law as our national anthem is that Constitutions do not make nations, nations make constitutions and it is these nations that have anthems and symbols. The Constitution of India is a document of our Republic and our Republic is the product of our nation. India, that is Bharat, a nation of a diverse people, who each have their own unique way of giving thanks, their own unique way of singing Jana Gana Mana. For the song sings praise to Bhārat Bhāgya Vidhātā, who rules the minds of the people of India, the spirit of destiny existed well before our Constitution and will continue to exist long after it. When thousands of years have passed, and the buildings of the court houses in Delhi lie in dust, there will still remain a spirit that guides the destiny of the people who remain in this land and the spirit will still evoke the praise of her people. That’s the true meaning of Jana Gana Mana.

Jana Gana Mana is our anthem because India was a nation before the Constitution and will be a nation after it as well, India is a creature in the imagination of history and history does not need a piece of paper to gain validity. Neither the Flag of India nor the National Anthem of India have constitutional status nor do they have constitutional sanctity. They are merely symbols and we can by national consensus change them at any time.

To breathe the air of a free India where citizens can disregard them when they please because law recognises that sovereignty flows from the citizenry not the law, is a much greater symbol of our nationhood and no symbol, no matter how mighty or how revered can triumph that. The freedom of an Indian citizen must always take precedence over the reverence to a symbol. Which is why it being quite abhorrent, that India’s free citizens will now be required to stand and listen to it while watching a visual of a moving flag. For this means, that this wonderful and prayerful song, has become another washing powder Nirma ad. Something that will cue us to a mechanical response as it blares from the speakers. For no more will citizens of India be freely able to love their country when they sing this song without it being clouded the fear of the sanction of the law.

For love is free, including love for one’s country. Love by it’s very nature, is free. To make it mandatory that citizens of India honour their nation, is the greatest insult to India’s honour.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 14:46 IST

SC questions Centre’s notification supporting jallikattu, says cannot ‘negate’ verdict

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned the Centre for its 2016 notification allowing use of bulls in events like jallikattu, saying that its 2014 verdict banning the use of the animals cannot be “negated”. “How can you (the Centre) negate our judgement banning jallikattu by coming up with the January 2016 notification allowing bulls to participate in the sport again,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and RF Nariman said. “Your January 2016 notification negates our 2014 judgment banning use of bulls in jallikattu,” it said.During the hearing, the counsel for the Centre said that now it would be ensured that bulls were neither tortured nor made to take alcohol prior to jallikattu. Supporting the historic tradition, the Centre also said that the court should not stop it and moreover, villagers could not be asked to go and see F1 sports.The bench, meanwhile, refused to hear organisations which have approached it to support the use of bulls in the event and fixed the matter for further hearing on December 7. Earlier, the apex court had observed that the country cannot “import Roman gladiator-type sport” as it is against the culture of compassion towards the animals. “We cannot import Roman gladiator-type sport here. One can use computer for indulging in bull fighting. Why tame bulls for it?” the bench had said.Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, had said when humans can run for marathon, why can bulls not be made to do so. The court in its 2014 judgement had said that bulls could not be used as performing animals, either for jallikattu events or bullock-cart races in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country, and had banned their use across the country.The apex court had also earlier declared Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 as constitutionally void, being violative or Article 254(1) of the Constitution. On January 8, the Centre had issued a notification lifting ban on jallikattu in poll-bound Tamil Nadu with certain restrictions, which was challenged in the apex court by Animal Welfare Board of India, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, a Bangalore-based NGO and others.On July 26, the apex court had said that just because the bull-taming sport of jallikattu was a centuries-old tradition, it could not be justified. It had said if the parties were able to convince the court that its earlier judgement was wrong, it might refer the matter to a larger bench. The Supreme Court had on January 21 refused to re-examine its 2014 judgement banning use of bulls for jallikattu events or bullock-cart races across the country. The apex court had earlier stayed January 8 notification.

SC pulls up Centre on notification supporting jallikattu, says it negates court’s order

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned the Centre for its 2016 notification allowing use of bulls in events like jallikattu, saying that its 2014 verdict banning the use of the animals cannot be “negated”.

“How can you (the Centre) negate our judgment banning jallikattu by coming up with the January 2016 notification allowing bulls to participate in the sport again,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and RF Nariman said.

“Your January 2016 notification negates our 2014 judgment banning use of bulls in jallikattu,” it said. During the hearing, the counsel for the Centre said that now it would be ensured that bulls were neither tortured nor
made to take alcohol prior to jallikattu.

Villagers try to tame a bull during the Jallikattu festival. ReutersVillagers try to tame a bull during the Jallikattu festival. Reuters

Villagers try to tame a bull during the Jallikattu festival. Reuters

Supporting the historic tradition, the Centre also said that the court should not stop it and moreover, villagers could not be asked to go and see F1 sports. The bench, meanwhile, refused to hear organisations which have approached it to support the use of bulls in the event and fixed the matter for further hearing on 7 December.

Earlier, the apex court had observed that the country cannot “import Roman gladiator-type sport” as it is against the culture of compassion towards the animals.

“We cannot import Roman gladiator-type sport here. One can use computer for indulging in bull fighting. Why tame bulls for it?” the bench had said.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, had said when humans can run for marathon, why can bulls not be made to do so.

The court in its 2014 judgement had said that bulls could not be used as performing animals, either for jallikattu events or bullock-cart races in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country, and had banned their use across the country.

The apex court had also earlier declared Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 as constitutionally void, being violative or Article 254(1) of the Constitution.

On 8 January, the Centre had issued a notification lifting ban on jallikattu in poll-bound Tamil Nadu with certain restrictions, which was challenged in the apex court by Animal Welfare Board of India, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, a Bangalore-based NGO and others.

On 26 July, the apex court had said that just because the bull-taming sport of jallikattu was a centuries-old tradition, it could not be justified.

It had said if the parties were able to convince the court that its earlier judgement was wrong, it might refer the matter to a larger bench. The Supreme Court had on 21 January refused to re-examine its 2014 judgement banning use of bulls for jallikattu events or bullock-cart races across the country.

The apex court had earlier stayed 8 January notification.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 20:06 IST

Uniform Civil Code debate is more about values existing within communities: Tufail Ahmad tells Firstpost

The issue of Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is more about values existing within communities and not about their lifestyle and identities – is what Tufail Ahmad, executive director of Open Source Institute, a Delhi-based think tank, feels.

Ahmad, who proposed a draft UCC on Wednesday to initiate a public debate, told Firstpost:  “This draft UCC is the first-ever attempt to bring specific issues before the public for a wider discussion. It is necessary to emphasise that the issue of UCC is not about the lifestyles and identities of Indian citizens but to ensure that certain fundamental rights to equality and liberty are protected for them by the Indian state. It’s more about values existing within communities.”

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

It has been observed that UCC despite being a good idea, whenever a debate takes place on this issue, gets into a controversy and gets a religious colour as the focus is on Muslims. A section within the society feels that instead of making the debate Muslim-centric, the debate should first be within the communities and why it shouldn’t begin with Hindus.

“It’s a misleading argument. The move for UCC has predominantly been opposed by a section of Muslims, clerics and their institutions, and not by other religious communities. Other groups are open to change. Unlike a class of liberals which believes that this change comes from within, I strongly feel it comes from an external source. Like Raja Rammohan Roy opposed the practice of Sati and it was an outcome of his interactions with foreign scholars and ideas,” said Ahmad, a former journalist with BBC World Service.

Stating that his draft UCC is the first-ever attempt to bring specific issues before the public for a wider discussion, Ahmad said, “At present, no draft UCC exists that could enlighten the people of India regarding the specifics that would constitute a code.”

“This UCC is drafted within a broader context of a Universal Bill of Rights for the Indian citizen (Ubric). In the name of secularism, often a biased stand is taken. This discriminatory identity divides communities. Even the judiciary, including some judges of the Supreme Court, often fails to understand that Right to religion and beliefs is available to Indian citizens and not to communities and religious organisations. As a result, while hearing cases of individuals – say a case related to a Muslim woman, they allow Islamic institutions to be a party in it,” he pointed out.    

Ahmad, the author of ‘Jihadist Threat to India – The Case for Islamic Reformation by an Indian Muslim’, in his 12-clause document – a blueprint for the UCC – said, “The issue of UCC has emerged into India’s political discourse recently because many Muslim women, affected adversely by the personal laws have begun knocking on the doors of the Supreme Court to uphold their fundamental rights to equality and liberty, in keeping with constitutional provisions. Gradually, a realisation is gaining ground that UCC will protect the constitutional rights of Indian citizens.”

The 16 clauses in the draft UCC highlights the importance of fundamental right to education; religion and beliefs; unhindered freedom of thought and speech; application of rule of law to every citizen; any child born throughout the territory of India, including Gilgit Baltistan (which being the part of J&K) should have an automatic right to be citizen of India; use of words (like bhangi, chamar, kafir, etc) that describe an individual or groups in a discriminatory and hateful manner shall be a criminal offence; etc.

“We appeal to the members of Parliament to enact this Bill as Law in fulfilment of the objectives set out in the Preamble of the Constitution and in particular Article 44 that says — The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India,” added Ahmad.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 19:35 IST

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