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VVIP chopper scam: HC notice to ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi on CBI plea against his bail

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi High Court today sought the response of ex-IAF chief S P Tyagi, who is on bail after being arrested in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, on CBI’s plea challenging his bail claiming its probe would be “hampered” if he remains out.Justice Vipin Sanghi issued notice to Tyagi, who was arrested on December 9 and granted bail on December 26, listed the matter for hearing on January 3 after CBI said the bail pleas of other accused in the case are likely to be heard by the trial court on January 4.Justice Sanghi said the endeavour of the court would be to dispose of the matter on January 3 after hearing all the parties.CBI argued before the high court that each day Tyagi remained out on bail would lead to its line of investigation being “exposed” and “hampered” and the evidence could also be destroyed.The agency also said its probe was “multi-layered” as it was spread across several countries since various companies were allegedly used to “camouflage the bribe money”.The contention came in response to the high court’s query as to why should the 72-year old former Chief of Air Staff be retained in judicial custody at this stage when he was in the custody of the agency for a week prior to getting bail.CBI admitted before the high court that though the FIR was registered in 2013, “real core investigation started only a few months back” and hence it did not want Tyagi to be out on bail till the charge sheet is filed.It contended that if Tyagi remained out on bail, he could “alert other potential accused”.A special court had on December 26 this year granted bail to Tyagi, saying CBI has failed to state the alleged bribe amount and when it was paid.Tyagi, who was interrogated by CBI in its custody for seven days, was asked to furnish a personal bond of Rs two lakh and a surety of like amount as pre-requisites for his release on bail.The trial court had asked Tyagi not to leave the National Capital Region without its permission and ordered him not to tamper with evidence or try to influence witnesses.It had noted that Tyagi had joined investigation as and when CBI called him and it was not the case that he either tampered with evidence after registration of the FIR or influenced any witness in the case.While granting the relief, the trial court also took note of Tyagi’s advancing age and his health conditions and said no purpose would be served by keeping him behind bars.Tyagi, who retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan were arrested on December 9 by CBI in connection with the case which relates to procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from UK-based AgustaWestland during the UPA-2 regime.The court had on December 17 sent all the three accused to judicial custody till December 30.

DMK seeks probe by sitting high court judge into Jayalalithaa’s death

Chennai: A day after a Madras High Court judge expressed doubts over the circumstances leading to the demise of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, DMK on Friday sought a comprehensive probe by a sitting HC judge into the death.

Former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. AFP

Former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. AFP

“A comprehensive probe must be done by a sitting judge of the High Court and people should be told the truth,” DMK Treasurer MK Stalin said.

Against the backdrop of the court raising questions, he said it was imperative for the government to come out comprehensively on the medical treatment provided to the former AIADMK chief.

In a statement in Chennai, he said complete medical bulletins, video footage and photos of her getting treatment at the hospital should be released.

Citing Justice Vaidyanathan’s observation on Thursday that he may consider ordering exhumation of the body of the departed leader, he said, “it is imperative for the government to release comprehensive information.”

Stalin, who had earlier sought a white paper on the treatment given to Jayalalithaa, said there was no statement from the government ever since she was admitted to the hospital on 22 September.

He said the Centre and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had a duty to answer questions related to the treatment provided for the late leader. Doctors from Delhi’s AIIMS too had treated her, he said.

If the ruling regime had explained the “true (health) status” of Jayalalithaa and released pictures of her getting treatment, the issue could not have reached the doorsteps of court, he said.

He recalled a statement of his party chief Karunanidhi seeking release of pictures of Jayalalithaa being treated and said, “had the ruling side not viewed it from the prism of politics, the issue would not have come to such a pass”.

Only such activities has cast a “cloud, giving room for suspicion,” among the people, he said, adding it was the right of the people to know about the treatment given to her and the circumstances leading to her death.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 14:52 IST

Supreme Court dismisses plea against appointment of new Chief Justice of India

Supreme Court dismisses plea against appointment of new Chief Justice of India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking the quashing of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar’s appointment as the next Chief Justice of India.

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

The vacation bench of Justice RK Agrawal and Justice DY Chandrachud dismissed as “without merit” the petition by the National Lawyers Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms and others.

President Pranab Mukherjee on 19 December appointed Justice Khehar as the 44th Chief Justice of India. He will be sworn-in on 4 January, 2017. The incumbent Chief Justice TS Thakur retires on 3 January.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 14:20 IST

Government notifies Disabilities Bill

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government has notified the recently passed Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill which provides for reservation in government jobs for persons with benchmark disabilities from 3 to 4%, and in higher education institutes from 3 to 5%, Union Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said on Friday.”The Bill was passed by Parliament in the winter session and then it was sent to the President for his assent. After the nod from the President, it was notified on Wednesday,” Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said on the foundation day of the National Trust.On the occasion, Gehlot launched the mobile app and Facebook Page of the National Trust.”Through the app, information regarding the schemes and programmes will be disseminated. The Facebook page was launched with an aim to bring together all NGOs and organisation working in this field on the same platform,” Gehlot said.With the enforcement of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years will have the right to free education. The legislation has been made to bring Indian laws in line with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.Under the newly enacted Act, the types of disabilities have been increased from the existing seven to 21. The newly added types include mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, specific learning disabilities, multiple sclerosis, speech and Language disability, thalassemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, multiple disabilities including deaf blindness, acid attack victims and Parkinsons disease.Also, disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept and government will have the power to add more types of disabilities.As per the Act, assaulting, insulting, intimidating, denying food to a person with disability or sexually exploiting a differently-abled woman and performing a medical procedure on such women without consent which may lead in termination of pregnancy will draw a jail term up to five years once the law is passed.Any person who contravenes any provision of the act will be punished with a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh.

Rift widens as Akhilesh meets supporters; objects to father’s list

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The war games are likely to continue within the Yadav family, a day after Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav snubbed his son and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, by publicly announcing 325 candidates of the 403 assembly seats on Wednesday. The list which omitted names of candidates suggested by the UP CM, suggested that the party was in danger of splitting before the crucial polls in the state.Hectic political activities began on Thursday right from the morning as party leaders have been gathering outside the residences of Akhilesh and Mulayam and huge crowds assembled outside Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Yadav’s residence. Sources close to the UP Chief Minister said that Akhilesh was likely to announce his own list of candidates for the state polls. They also said the candidates declared by him are likely to contest on different symbols as independent candidates.”Yes, Akhilesh Yadav is likely to announce his own list of candidates for UP polls,” said SP MLA Indal Singh. Singh’s remarks came after the CM’s meeting with those of whom who had been denied tickets.The UP CM who had just arrived from Bundelkhand, convened a meeting on Thursday of his supporters and legislators who had been denied tickets. He also met ministers who were denied tickets. Among them were Pawan Pandey, Ram Govind Chaudhary and Arvind Singh ‘Gop’. Sources close to him said that in the highly charged atmosphere, several of his loyalists had asked him to defy his father and uncle Shivpal Yadav, and go ahead with his own list of candidates.Later in the day, Akhilesh met his father Mulayam, and his uncle Shivpal was also present. But the talks did not seem to have yielded the desired results.The tension before the meeting was clear as an upset Akhilesh said,”The list does not include names of certain candidates who are sure to win. I will take it up with the SP chief and tell him that some of them have done really good work and they should be given tickets.” Since then the UP CM has remained incommunicado.Akhilesh’s supporter Uday Veer Singh said, “The Chief Minister has always fought for justice and he will continue to do so.” Singh however refused to comment on whether a new party would be formed.The list Mulayam unveiled on Wednesday, included 176 sitting MLAs. It not only left out several pro-Akhilesh ministers, but also did not carry the names of over 50 sitting MLAs. On the other hand, 10 ministers, including Shivpal, who had been sacked by the Chief Minister, over the past few months, got tickets. These former ministers were in open defiance of Akhilesh and it had paid off.In a late night tit-for-tat action, the Chief Minister had struck back, sacking two Shivpal loyalists — Surabhi Shukla, vice-chairperson of UP Awas Vikas Parishad and her husband Sandeep Shukla from the post of advisor of Rajkiya Nirman Nigam. Sandeep has been fielded from Sultanpur Sadar seat.Mulayam had also ignored Akhilesh’s objections to certain names, like Sigbatullah Ansari, brother of jailed gangster Mukhtar Ansari, and Atiq Ahmed who faces over 40 criminal cases including that for murder. The list also included tainted minister Gayatri Prajapati, whose sacking and re-induction as minister exposed the factional infighting in the ruling party.The SP supremo also made clear his differences with Akhilesh on the issue of a pre-poll alliance by ruling out any pact for a grand alliance. He even refused to project a chief ministerial candidate, dealing a serious blow to his son at a time when polls are to be announced very soon.A senior party leader said that by taking on political dons and criminals, Akhilesh was attempting to grow bigger than his party. The party leader also admitted that the chief minister’s image was getting bigger by the day but also added that the image was yet to grow as big as his father’s — who has the ability to turn political fortunes at the elections.

Why can’t her body be exhumed? Madras HC raises questions over Jayalalithaa’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than three weeks after the demise of former AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, the Madras High Court on Thursday raised questions over the death of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and asked why her body can’t be exhumed.”Media has raised a lot of doubts, personally I also have doubts in Jayalalithaa’s death,” said Justice Vaidyanathan who was hearing a petition.”When she was admitted in hospital, it was said that she was on proper diet. At least after her death now, truth should be revealed,” Vaidyanathan said.The judge also went on to say that the court could order the exhumation and post-mortem of Jayalalithaa’s body, reported TheNewsMinute.A PIL has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking a commission comprising retired Supreme Court judges to look into “questionable incidents”, including her sudden hospitalisation, reported recovery and the cardiac arrest resulting in her death.
ALSO READ AIADMK appoints Jayalalithaa’s close confidante Sasikala as party General SecretaryPetitioner PA Joseph, a city resident, listed the sequence of events since Jayalalithaa’s admission to Apollo Hospital here on September 22 and claimed that the “secrecy” preceding her death gave rise to “grave doubts” in the minds of the people.The public interest litigation, which listed 12 respondents, including the Apollo Hospitals chairman, is likely to be taken up for hearing by the vacation bench of the court on December 29.The petitioner pleaded that the commission must peruse all the records, reports and documents in possession of the government as well as the hospital and look into “several questionable incidents”, including her sudden hospitalisation, reported recovery and the subsequent cardiac arrest resulting in her death on December.

PM Modi should bring together India, Pakistan and Bangladesh: Sudheendra Kulkarni

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Observer Research Foundation chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take the lead in bringing India, Pakistan and Bangladesh together in a “family reconciliation” for the better future of coming generations. “The idea of an India-Pakistan confederation was also mooted by Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, the ideological guru of the BJP, and Dr Rammanohar Lohia, the great socialist leader, in 1964. In a recent speech, PM Modi has described Mahatma Gandhi, Deendayal Upadhyaya and Dr Lohia as three Great Indians of the 20th century,” Kulkarni said. “Since all three of them were in favour of a confederation, I urge PM Modi to take the lead in bringing India, Pakistan and Bangladesh together in a family reconciliation, leading ultimately to a family re-union,” he said addressing a gathering here at the launch of his book ‘August Voices: What they said on 14-15 August 1947’. He said that the people and governments of our three countries must refuse to live as prisoners of the past.”We must create a better future for our coming generations. A future of peace, shared progress, eradication of poverty, justice and dignity for every human being in our subcontinent. To do so is our moral responsibility towards humanity,” Kulkarni said. He added, that all three nations have the world’s largest number of poor, deprived and divided people with common civilisational ancestry.”Besides, neither India nor Pakistan nor Bangladesh can develop to their full potential without transitioning from discord to concord, from hostility to cooperation,” he said.Kulkarni said there is no lasting solution, acceptable to India and Pakistan, without some form of a confederal agreement between both nations.He said that neither the solution to the Kashmir issue, nor the larger idea of a confederation, can move even an inch without Pakistan taking firm measures to eliminate terrorism from its soil.”Pakistan must rid itself of terrorism and religious extremism for its own survival,” he said, adding that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh today have an unprecedented opportunity to move towards economic and infrastructural integration in a big way.”This can be done by India taking the lead in connecting the BCIM or Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Corridor with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and extending it further to Afghanistan and Iran,” he said.Kulkarni said new trade, business and people-to- people connectivities will create inter-dependence.

The persecution of Zakir Naik’s lawyer is both illegal and unjust

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>By no stretch of imagination is Zakir Naik, the founder and head of NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), a benign preacher or a saintly figure. There’s no dearth of members of his own religious community who condemn him for hate-mongering and giving Islam a bad name.However, is he indulging in terrorist activities by “radicalising” Muslim youth, as the government claims? Are the lawyers defending him to be held ‘guilty by association’? If that is the case, then no lawyer worth his salt would stop shuddering before taking on the brief of anyone accused of terror offences. Only the most intrepid of lawyers would come forward to fora without fear or favour. And most Muslim lawyers would be all the more intimidated due to the persecution and hounding they might face, for the simple reason that a majority of terror-accused (most of whom finally get acquitted) happen to profess Islam as their religion.Moreover, how judicially sound is the government’s November 2016 decision to ban Naik’s IRF as a terror outfit under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and would it stand the legal scrutiny of the tribunal being headed by Justice Suresh Kait of the Delhi High Court?
ALSO READ Notice served on legal counsel of Zakir Naik’s NGOThese questions assume prime significance because of Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch summoning Naik’s lawyer SHA Jamati for questioning, and directing him to show cause why his client’s NGO should not be banned, and prove that he is in no way either an aide or an associate in Naik’s activities. It might appear that defending Jamati for fighting his client’s case is equivalent to supporting Naik’s activities, but that is not the case.
ALSO READ Centre transfers bureaucrat who cracked down on Zakir Naik’s NGOIn fact, the two issues are intertwined, and the root lies in the wording of definitions in the UAPA. They are too sweeping in scope and give more than ample and justifiable reasons for the tribunals to pass orders which transgress constitutional principles, as researchers from the think tank Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy have pointed out in this piece.Moreover, Justice PK Shali, who headed the tribunal in 2012, had this to say: “The language of the provisions of the Act is drafted in such a manner that the Tribunal is required to see only the ‘sufficiency of the cause’ for the Central Government to declare the association to be unlawful and conversely, the onus is put on the association, either as a body of persons or as office-bearers or even as members, to show cause as to why it should not be declared as unlawful.”
ALSO READ Ban on IRF is an attack on Indian Muslims, peace, democracy and justice: Zakir NaikSuccessive reports, available here, here, and here, have exposed in detail how, under the UAPA, the banning regime works in a grossly undemocratic and illegal manner.A Lawyer’s DutyAccording to the law, a lawyer is an officer of the court and owes his duty only to his client and the court. He is not to be subjected to humiliation or any kind of harassment merely and only because he has taken up the case of someone deemed odious by a certain section of society and some members of the ruling government. Legendary British barrister, Lord Brougham, a tireless crusader of civil liberties, said in 1937: “An advocate, by the sacred duty which he owes to his client, knows in the discharge of that office but one person in the world — the client, and no other… to protect that client at all hazards and costs to all others, and among others to himself is the highest and most unquestioned of his duties… Nay, separating even the duties of a patriot from those of an advocate, and casting them if need be to the wind, he must go on reckless of the consequences…”Nancy Hollander, former president of the National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers (US), proclaims with pride and devoid of any compunction: “So let me say it: I am a terrorist lawyer, if that means I am willing to defend those accused of terrorism. I am currently defending two men imprisoned in Guantanamo and I defend others accused of terrorism. Contrary to recent attacks by those who claim to be supporters of American justice, my defence of people accused of serious and sometimes horrific crimes is not an endorsement of those crimes. Rather, it is a testament to the strength of my belief in, and commitment to, the American system of justice. Why? Because in my defence of every client, I am defending the United States Constitution and the laws and treaties to which it is bound, and I am defending the rule of law. If I am a terrorist lawyer, I also am a rule-of-law lawyer, a constitutional lawyer and a treaty lawyer.”Sadly, in recent times in India, lawyers taking up cases of those accused of terror offences are also regarded as terrorists and hounded. The trials and tribulations faced dauntlessly by the likes of Mehmood Pracha, Sarim Naved, Trideep Pais, and Shahid Azmi (who was assassinated), who have successfully secured acquittals for those accused as terrorists, can inspire many, but not all, to soldier on. Regardless of the consequences.But, for how long? It requires a Herculean effort to withstand the might of the state and its agencies.Till date, Jamati has remained unfazed and has vowed to take the government head on. Mubin Solkar, a reputed Mumbai-based criminal lawyer, is also advising Naik and has warded off threats and persecution.But, for how long should this legally-abetted thuggery be allowed to continue?

Jammu and Kashmir: Masarat Alam’s detention held illegal, HC orders release of hardline Hurriyat leader

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ordered release of senior hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Masrat Alam Bhat, who has been in preventive custody under the Public Safety Act since April 2015.

Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, while allowing Masarat’s plea challenging the latest of the detention orders under Public Safety Act, held his detention illegal on several grounds.

“By issuance of writ of certiorari, order of detention bearing No. 85/DMB/PSA/2016 dated 1.9.2016, passed by the (deputy commissioner Baramulla) is quashed with a further direction to the (government) to release Alam forthwith from preventive custody,” the court said in its order on Wednesday.

Bhat has been booked under PSA several times since April 2015 and the latest order in the series was issued by District Magistrate Baramulla. According to the order, Masarat was accused of making the ongoing agitation “successful” while in custody of the state authorities.

Masarat Alam in a file photo. AFP

Masarat Alam in a file photo. AFP

The order was passed on the basis of Masarat’s meeting on 11 August this year with four persons who visited him at District Jail, Baramulla. The persons had requested authorities to allow them meet one Assadullah Parray, who is allegedly affiliated with Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani.

The authorities claimed that instead of meeting Parray, they met Masarat, who allegedly advised them to activate the workers for a more visible and prominent role in the turmoil. A case was registered against Masarat at police station Baramulla on 30 August, two days before the detention order under PSA against Alam was passed by the deputy commissioner.

“Even otherwise, record would show statements of four police personnel, who were posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have been recorded.Their statements would show that Assadullah Parray was lodged in Barrack No.7, whereas (Masarst) was lodged in Barrac No.8.

“The allegation in the FIR and statements of all these police personnel would, prima facie, show that all the police authorities, posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have failed to discharge their duties in accordance with law because it was within the competence and authority of these police personnel to ensure that the visitors would meet Parray, for meeting with whom they had sought permission and not (Alam),” the court observed.

The court also rendered the detention order illegal for the reason that the bail application of Masarat had been rejected by a court and he continued to languish in state custody.

The detaining authority, in this situation, could not assume that there is every likelihood of (Masarat) being released on bail.

The Court said, “democratic society not only swears but lives by democratic values and principles. Even in the face of extreme provocations, the laws of the land are to be implemented. Laws possess unique quality, in as much as, they, even at times, protect those who break them. Thus, they prove to be better than many human beings”.

Masarat was released after four-and-half years of detention soon after the PDP-BJP government took charge in March last year.

However, he was re-arrested on 17 April, 2015 and detained under the PSA for alleged anti-national activities during a rally to welcome Geelani home from Delhi.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 17:07 IST

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

J&K HC orders Masarat Alam’s release from preventive custody immediately

Wed, 28 Dec 2016-12:52pm , Jammu and Kashmir , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday directed Mehbooba Mufti-led government to immediately release separatist leader Masarat Alam from preventive custody.A bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar quashed Alam’s detention after hearing his counsel Mian Abdul Qayoom and the state counsel.Alam, who has been languishing in jail for the past six years on charges of fomenting trouble and posing a threat to public safety in the Valley, was booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) following the 2010 violent unrest.

Caste politics: Maha carves out new dept to woo 30% population of backward communities

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Playing another caste card in the state, the Devendra Fadnavis government on Tuesday cleared the decks to set-up a separate department especially for the Other Backward Classes/ nomadic/ denotified tribes/ Specially backward communities, carving out from the Social Justice and Special Justice Department. The department called, “Department of Denotified Tribes, Nomadic Tribes, Specially backward and Other Backward Classes” would be operational by April 1, 2017, says a cabinet note. The Centre doesn’t have a separate department for backward communities. As of now, the Chief Minister has kept the newly-formed department under him. It is likely to be given to some cabinet minister soon. The OBC/ nomadic/ denotified communities/ SBC together constitute 30% of the state’s population at 3.68 crore. This is the second time when an OBC department has been carved out from the social justice department in Maharahstra. “In 1999, the then Sena-BJP government had done ditto, however, the departments were merged again after the realisation that the move was impractical as they both spearheaded the same welfare schemes,” Rajkumar Badole, Minister of Social Justice and Social Asistance, said. Badole is now left with the Schedule Caste and Buddhist communities which are 13% of the total population. Badole assured the government will move in a planned way this time. As of now, 59 new posts have been created which will cost the exchequer Rs 2.2 crore, apart from recurring cost of Rs 1.5 crore annually. “Most of the people belonging to these communities are educationally and socially backward. The new department will be able to implement welfare schemes in a better way to uplift them ,” Badole said. The social justice department currently has a total budget of Rs 12,000 crore including planned and non-planned both for 24 schemes including educational and housing aid. Out of this, nearly Rs 2,000 crore is earmarked for the scholarships/ feeship to the students of OBC, VJ (Vimukti Jati or deonotified tribes) and NT (Nomadic tribes) communities. The department has been marred by massive corruption in the scholarship and free-ship schemes for many years. “Corruption is the major driving factor to establish a new ministry. Because of drainage of funds in the name of fake students, educational institutes and department officials managed to make huge money. But those who needed it remained out of purview of the schemes,” said a top official. A year ago, the government was forced to constitute a taskforce headed by Director General of Police (Planning) Dr K Venkatesham which has in its preliminary report, suspected a whopping 50% pilferage in the free-ship and scholarship schemes of underprivileged communities. Badole however insists that the move aims to empower the socially neglected communities and corruption has nothing to do with the decision. “Dr Venkatesham has not yet submitted the final report,” Badole said. After the cabinet meet, Fadnavis said, “The social justice department is overburdened with multiple responsibilities. Besides, there was a long pending demand for a separate ministry for OBCs.”

Jessica Lall case: AAP government to take a call on Manu Sharma’s parole

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the AAP government to decide in three days the parole plea of Manu Sharma, undergoing life term for killing model Jessica Lall in 1999. “The government of National Capital Territory of Delhi is directed to dispose of the application/representation of the petitioner (Sharma) within three days from the date of receipt of this order,” Justice Pratibha Rani said.The court said the order passed by the government should be communicated immediately to the petitioner and his counsel through the jail superintendent. The direction came on plea by Sharma, who sought three months’ parole to enable him appear for LLB second semester exams from December 31, attend his Personal Contact Programme and re-establish social ties.Advocate Amit Sahni, appearing for Sharma, said three month was required as the convict has to appear before the Registrar in Chandigarh on January 19 next year for registration of his marriage. Sahni said the government has not yet taken any decision on the application since October this year.Additional Standing Counsel Sanjay Lao, appearing for the government, then said the application filed by the petitioner seeking parole shall be disposed of expeditiously. The court noted that the parole application was sent to the competent authority only on December 7, which has not yet been decided.The convict, who has been given parole six times since September 2009, has completed a post-graduate diploma in Human Rights and is now pursuing a Bachelor’s in Law course from Annamalai University, Chennai.Sharma, son of former Union Minister Venod Sharma, was awarded life imprisonment by the high court in December 2006 for killing Jessica Lall in 1999. The trial court had acquitted him, but the Delhi High Court had reversed it and the Supreme Court had upheld the life sentence in April 2010. Lall was shot dead by Sharma after she had refused to serve him liquor at the Tamarind Court restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani at Qutub Colonnade in South Delhi’s Mehrauli on the night of April 30, 1999.

Kerala: Opposition demands resignation of LDF minister MM Mani charged in murder case

Kochi: Stepping up its attack against Electricity Minister MM Mani after he rejected Opposition’s demand to quit following a court’s refusal of discharging him from a 34-year-old murder case, Congress on Monday alleged that his presence in the CPM-led LDF government would weaken the trial into the charges against him.

“Mani is an accused in a murder case. He must quit. It is necessary to ensure proper justice in the case,” KPCC Chief V M Sudheeran told reporters here.

He alleged that Mani’s presence in the government would help him “pressurise” witnesses and Investigating Officers.

“We strongly believe that there will be efforts to influence the witnesses,” Sudheeran said.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Mani has rejected opposition Congress and BJP’s demand that he quit after a court in Thodupuzha refused to discharge him as an accused in the 34-year-old murder case, saying he would fight the case both “legally and politically”.

Noting that Mani is the second accused in the case related to the murder of Youth Congress leader Anchery Baby in November 1982, Sudheeran said that his continuation in the Ministry raises “moral, ethical and legal” questions.

“So the chief minister should seek his resignation from the Ministry or he should be sacked,” the KPCC president said.

Sudheeran also asked the CPM central leadership to explain their stand on the issue.

The state unit of CPI(M) heading the LDF regime, has rallied behind Mani, saying the demand for his resignation was “politically motivated”.

“The demand is politically motivated. The case existed when Mani contested the state Assembly elections. There is nothing new in the court verdict. The demand for his resignation has no basis and he can continue as Minister,” CPM State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had said, soon after the verdict on Saturday.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 15:54 IST

NGT asks Delhi govt to shut hazardous industries in East Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Noting that functioning of industrial units in residential areas is harmful, the National Green Tribunal has directed the Delhi government and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to take action against all such units operating without consent.A bench headed by Justice UD Salvi pulled up BSES Yamuna for supplying electricity to industrial units located in Vishwas Nagar area here and directed it to immediately snap electricity connections to them.”As of today, it is evident that several industrial units are being run unauthorisedly without consent to operate being obtained from the competent authority in accordance with law in Vishwas Nagar, Delhi. Obviously, their operations are deleterious to the environment generally and in particular to the area of Vishwas Nagar…”We direct the Delhi government and authorities concerned to take action against all the industrial units operating without consent to operate granted by DPCC in accordance with law,” the bench, also comprising Expert Member Ranjan Chatterjee, said.Advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for the East Delhi Municipal Corporation, told the bench that several industrial units in Vishwas Nagar were being run unauthorisedly in gross violation of the provisions of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act and directions of the Supreme Court.However, the association of Vishwas Nagar Small Scale Manufacturing and Traders told the NGT that Vishwas Nagar has more than 70 per cent plots under manufacturing activity and according to the physical surveys carried out by the Delhi government, the area deserves to be declared as an industrial area.The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by local resident S N Rohatgi, who had approached green panel against industrial units operating in the area seeking their immediate closure on the ground that these industries were causing air and noise pollution.Rohatgi claimed that Vishwas Nagar was residential area where 70,000 residents reside and there were 13 schools besides Chartered Accountants Institute and several private coaching institutes.

Top municipal and state officials will face prosecution for violating waste rules: NGT

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a significant order on municipal solid waste rules (MSW), 2016, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) principal bench has said that top officials of state governments and municipal bodies shall be liable for prosecution if they violate the rules and orders of the Tribunal on its enforcement.It has also asked all state governments and union territories to prepare an action plan within a month, to enforce the new MSW Rules, 2016 and directed environment ministry to consider phase out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic used in packaging.The NGT’s detailed 89-page judgment of a four-member bench, headed by justice Swatanter Kumar, was passed on Thursday while hearing the petition of Bengaluru-based veteran environment conservationist Almitra Patel, who had sought directions on effective management of solid waste across the country. The Tribunal’s judgment brought down curtains on a 20-year-old petition, that was initially filed as writ in the Supreme Court and was later transferred to the Tribunal in 2014.Patel’s petition led to the formulation of the first Municipal Solid Waste Rules in 2000 that were overhauled in 2016 by the environment ministry. Speaking to DNA, Patel said, “I am happy that they are finally planning on directing phase out of short life PVC’s, stationary, flex-banners etc, which ends up burning on the footpath or in the landfills. Burning them releases dioxins.”She added, “The country needs political and administrative will that has been lacking for 16 years since the 2000 Rules. So, I am waiting to see if the threat of contempt makes any impact.”The Tribunal’s verdict revealed that no municipal corporation has ever physically verified the quantum and quality of waste generated in any district of any state or even a city. “They have proceeded with a presumptive figure that per-capita generation of MSW is nearly 450 grams per day in major towns while per capita MSW generated from small towns is 200-300 grams per day,” it said.It added, “The Central Pollution Control Board report for the year 2014- 15 has revealed that out of 7935 urban local bodies (ULBs), as per 2011 census only 389 ULBs have established compost, vermi-compost sites.” This means that 92 per cent of ULBs are dumping its solid waste in open areas without treatment.On the issue of the piles of waste accumulating at landfills, the Tribunal has directed that landfills should be subjected to ‘bio-stabilisation’, which means that the mounds of waste have to be upturned at regular intervals for composting.It also attempted to deal with the contentious issue of tipping fees, which are paid to contractors who collect and transport waste in cities. It said that tipping fee paid to the operator of the landfill facilities or contractors should also be based on the functioning of waste treatment along with the weight of the solid waste.

Maha govt tells Bombay HC it will fill up AG post by Dec 30

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Putting an end to the controversy surrounding the appointment of a new Advocate General, the Maharashtra Government told the Bombay High Court that it would fill up the coveted post by December 30.The post of Advocate General has been lying vacant since March this year after Srihari Aney resigned as AG. In his place, Rohit Deo was appointed as acting AG and he continues to represent the government in high court in this capacity.Deo today informed a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka that the state government would take a decision on the appointment of AG by December 30. Taking the statement of Government on record, the bench deferred it to January 9 next year a petition filed by Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt seeking appointment of a new Advocate General. The High Court had pulled up the state government early this month for its failure to appoint the Advocate General and had set a deadline of December 23 for the state to inform when it would fill up the coveted post. Today, the government said it would fill up this post by December 30 this year.Neeraj Dhote, legal adviser and joint secretary, law and judiciary department, had filed an affidavit on December 8 assuring the court that “the state would appoint AG in accordance with the provisions contained in Article 165 of the Constitution of India, by the end of December 2016.” The bench had earlier remarked “it is high time that the government appointed a new Advocate General to represent the state. Many constitutional and statutory functions (of the government) are suffering due to the non-appointment of AG and it affects the cause of justice as well as the public.” Seeking a direction to the Maharashtra government to appoint a regular Advocate General in place of the current acting Advocate General, Dutt’s petition submitted that the post of ‘acting Advocate General’ was unconstitutional. It demanded that the appointment of Advocate General should be made only as per the provisions of Article 165 of the Constitution.Dutt clarified that he was not questioning the integrity and professional capability of acting Deo, but said he wanted a direction to the state government to follow the constitutional provisions.Deo was functioning as an acting AG since March, while under the Constitution no post of ‘acting AG’ exists, he submitted.Dutt had also raised the issue in the state Legislature earlier, the petition said.Deo was appointed as acting AG after previous Advocate General Srihari Aney was forced to resign. Aney’s open support for separate Vidarbha had incurred him the wrath of political parties, including the ruling ally Shiv Sena, which are opposed to the idea of statehood for the region.

Former Kerala CM Oommen Chandy on solar scam: ‘Charges on role wrong; committed no crime’

Kochi: Holding his ground on the solar panel scam, which had rocked Kerala during the Congress-led UDF rule, former chief minister Oommen Chandy on Friday said that he had not committed any crime. “I have already rejected all the charges. I am fully confident that I have not committed any crime,” he said while deposing before a judicial commission probing charges in the solar panel scam, allegedly linked to his staff.

In his second deposition before the commission, headed by retired High Court judge Justice Sivarajan, the senior Congress leader claimed that all the charges levelled against him were legally proved wrong.

“Many things which had been said targeting me (in the solar scam) have already been proved wrong legally as also in the minds of the public,” he said during the cross-examination.

The commission had directed Chandy to be present for the cross-examination today.

He was cross-examined by the commission in January last in Thiruvananthapuram, when he was the Chief Minister.

Former CM of Kerala Oommen Chandy. AFP

Former CM of Kerala Oommen Chandy. AFP

During his deposition today, Chandy maintained that he had not interfered in the police probe into the case when he was Chief Minister.

Noting that no changes were made in the police team probing the case by the newly formed LDF government, which came to power seven months ago, Chandy said this suggested that police had been carrying out a free and fair probe even during UDF rule.

“The new government has not expressed any doubts about the approach of the probe team (appointed by the then UDF government),” the former Chief Minister said.

“I have not interfered in any stage of the investigation. In this case and other cases also. I have never done so. Free and fair investigation should be carried out in all investigations,” he said.

On being asked whether he had received telephone calls from a lawyer representing main accused (in solar scam) Saritha S Nair during the peak of the controversy, Chandy said he had not attended any of his calls.

The state government had appointed Justice Sivarajan to head the one-man commission on October 23, 2013, to probe the scam pertaining to alleged duping of investors by one Biju Radhakrishnan and his partner Saritha S Nair, who allegedly collected crores of rupees for a solar power project.

The two had allegedly canvassed the business by using top-level names, including that of Chandy.

While Saritha was granted bail after remaining behind bars for about nine months, Radhakrishnan is still in jail in connection with the alleged murder of his wife.

Chandy also rejected allegations by his former gunman Salim Raj that solar scam prime accused Saritha S Nair and the former CM used to talk to each other using his mobile phones.

Deposing before the panel, Salim Raj, a controversial police officer who was part of Chandy’s security, had alleged that a majority of calls from Saritha to his two phones were to talk to the then Chief Minister.

Chandy also rejected Saritha’s allegations that he had taken a bribe from her to set up solar projects, and said he had not taken bribe from anyone in his 50-year-long public life.

During her deposition before the panel, Saritha had alleged that she had paid a bribe of Rs 1.90 crore to Chandy through his personal aides to set up mega power projects in Kerala.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 18:51 IST

The man behind India’s ‘$74m wedding’

The BBC profiles the man behind one of India’s most lavish weddings in recent memory.

Dear Rahul Gandhi, it’s time for you to stop taking Indian democracy for granted

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Shakespearean Fool can get away with saying anything as he is not held to the same standards of probity as other characters. However, the Fool is unlikely to be the main plot point in any story because he’s there to provide the laughs. And sadly, for a lot of Indians, Rahul has become a meme rather than a leader who can be trusted to lead the nation. And this was evident, when speaking in Mehsana, Gujarat he claimed the PM had bribes from the Sahara and Birla groups when he was CM of Gujarat. The allegations stem from what has come to be known as the Sahara-Birla Diaries. Frankly, when Rahul promised an ‘earthquake’ and proof of PM Modi’s ‘personal corruption’ one had hoped for something better than allegations that were first hinted at by Arvind Kejriwal in the aftermath of the surgical strike and one that was repeated in the Delhi assembly on November 16.Now it’s true that in a post-truth world, elections can be won by casting aspersions and mud-slinging, hoping some of it sticks, but for that you need a solid ground to begin from and Rahul Gandhi’s earth-shattering revelations were based on documents that had already been dismissed by the SC as ‘zero, fictitious and not authentic’. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the NGO Common Cause had demanded an investigation into these allegations. The SC bench consisting of Justice Khehar and Justice Mishra had pointed out that Sahara never had ‘genuine documents’ and the Birla computer entries were flaky because any kid with a computer and printer could type things on a piece of paper and demand a probe. At the next hearing, things spiralled out of control when Bhusan alleged that Khehar might be compromised since his ‘file for elevation as Chief Justice of India was pending with the government’. This led to a sharp reprimand from Khehar who pointed out that Bhushan hadn’t brought this up earlier during the hearing. He said: “It is very unfair of you to have appeared before us earlier and not pointed this out then, and bring it up now.” Justice Mishra rebuked Bhushan saying, “So, you think we can succumb to any force? You doubt the highest Constitutional court?”, while AG Rohtagi called it a ‘cheap tactic’.That Rahul Gandhi should give credence to these rumours, shows the lack of imagination and political ineptitude emanating from the Congress leader’s team. Not only can they not define themselves beyond criticising PM Modi, they are clutching at straws by borrowing wild allegations.It seems that the Congress, just doesn’t know how to crack the Modi code because the BJP has successfully managed to place him as an icon synonymous with India. In a simplified binary world, if you’re against the Prime Minister, you are deemed to be against the nation.Indian democracy has been waiting with bated breath since 2004 for Rahul to get his act together, but while the spirit has been willing from time to time, the voters have shown all the enthusiasm of a snail returning home from a funeral. Since the BJP came to power with its ginormous verdict in 2014, one could count the meaningful Rahul Gandhi moments on our fingers.There were some moments of Vipassana-enthused ‘Suit-Boot’ Sarkar jibes, some support for students of HCU and JNU and a ham-handed attempt to join the intolerance debate. There was the ill-advised ‘khoon ka dalali’ remark against the surgical strikes and finally the opposition to demonetization.Perhaps demonetization was a strong case to bolster one’s dissenting credentials but Rahul Gandhi failed to make a mark with contradictory remarks which have swung from claiming the BJP knew about demonetization beforehand to the allegations that the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was unaware, and that the entire move is an attack on the poor. He even claimed in Modi’s cashless India, 5-6% from every transaction would go to the rich! The real problem for Rahul, is that his family legacy is a poisoned chalice. Whatever crime he accuses the Modi govt of perpetuating, the Congress has been there and done that.Corruption? Coalgate, Commonwealth Games, Bofors, 2G scam. Intolerance? Hi Grandma. Riots against a particular religion? Sorry Dad. While argumentum ad hominem is a logical fallacy, in politics, like life, those who live in glass houses find it harder to cast stones. And when they accuse Modi of something, the accusation always comes back like a boomerang because it has been the Congress that has been in power for so long since independence. Rahul’s position as a serious campaigner has also taken a hit as his Khat Pe Charcha in UP, saw more enthusiasm for the khats than the charcha. Even master strategist Prashant Kishore seems to have given up on his product as an alliance with SP looms large on the horizon which is bad news for Congress’ UP CM face Sheila Dixit.The hallmark of a democracy is a strong opposition but the Congress seems ill-equipped to provide one as the BJP juggernaut rolls on. The strongest voices of the Opposition at this moment comes from non-Congress leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal, who are the complete antithesis of the Congress VP. While the former three have fought their way to the top, quite like PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi still bears the appearance of a man who doesn’t know what to do with his inheritance.And it’s harming the Congress party as well, because the focus on the first family, is preventing the rise of any charismatic leaders who could lead the party out of their moment of darkness. Perhaps it’s time for Rahul Gandhi to stop playing the role of a dilettante politician and move on, so that India’s Grand Old Party can rebuild itself before it gets consigned to the dustbin of history. Because the electorate, a brave and new impatient India, is making it abundantly clear, election after election, that it has no respect for a man or a family who can’t get their house in order. Or as PM Modi put it while speaking in Varanasi: “They have a youth leader; he is learning how to speak. Since the time he has learnt how to speak, I am the happiest. In 2009, you couldn’t even tell what is inside this packet. Now we are finding out. If he hadn’t spoken, there could have been an earthquake. It would have been an earthquake that people would have had to deal with for 10 years. Good he has started speaking… there is no chance of an earthquake now.”

Bombay HC refuses furlough leave to Yakub Memon’s sister-in-law Rubina

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bombay High Court on Thursday refused to grant furlough leave to Rubina Memon, sister-in-law of hanged 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blast convict, Yakub Memon.The court dismissed the petition accepting that if she is released on furlough leave, several people will come to console her in Mahim over the death of Yakub, and it could lead to a law and order situation.A division bench of Justice V K Tahilramani and Justice A M Badar rejected the petition filed by Memon who has been convicted and sentenced to suffer life imprisonment under the now repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (prevention) Act for being a part of the serial blast conspiracy.Memon had moved an application before the prison authorities in March which was rejected after a report was submitted by the Mahim police claiming that her release would cause law and situation.Following, which she appealed before the Deputy Inspector General who also upheld the authorities order.Advocate Farhana Shah appearing for Memon had moved the High Court challenging the order of the authorities. “Other co-accused had been granted furlough leave, it is the right of every convict to be released on furlough,” she argued. Public Prosecutor Hitendra Dedhia opposed the plea by relying on a 2012 circular which barred released of persons convicted for terrorist acts on furlough leave.The court after considering everything dismissed the petition.

Jagannath temple reform panel gets final submissions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gajapati Maharaj of Puri, Dibyasingha Deb, has submitted an affidavit before Justice BP Das Commission of Inquiry suggesting reforms in rituals and management of Shree Jagannath Temple. The Commission Secretary collected the copy of the affidavit from Deb’s residence in Bhubaneswar today, which was the last date for submission of affidavits. The Puri district administration through its Collector and Shree Jagannath Temple Administration through its Chief Administrative Officer too submitted their respective affidavits before the Commission during the day. The Shankaracharya of Gobardhan Peeth at Puri had earlier conveyed his suggestions to the Commission on the reforms for Shree Jagannath Temple. A whopping 10,344 affidavits collected from across the state were submitted to the Commission on Monday. Hundreds of holy men and devotees under the aegis of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) marched in a massive rally and submitted these affidavits at the Commission’s office here. The holy men also submitted a seven-point proposal for reforms in the temple. The Commission had extended its deadline for submission of affidavits twice, the last one being on December 3. The Commission had then claimed that it was extending the deadline since it had only received 350 affidavits.The judicial Commission had been instituted by the state government to suggest measures for better security of the temple, safety of the visiting devotees, timely conduct of temple rituals, and welfare of deities and servitors.It was set up in July this year after the Niladree Bije fiasco which took place at the concluding ritual of the nine-day Rathayatra festival this year when the servitors allowed devotees to climb the chariots defying a ban by Orissa High Court. The state government had announced the formation of the one-man judicial commission in September after the Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal was manhandled by servitors during the incident when the matter reached a tipping point.Television cameras had zoomed in to show a young girl climbing down the chariot of Lord Balabhadra, in the last leg of the Rath Yatra 2016 at Puri. Moments later a few servitors got into an ugly scuffle with the district collector of Puri and other media personnel. The Jagannath Temple has since become a battle ground for control between the servitors, the political class and the temple administration.Rath Yatra, the annual chariot festival is the most prominent religious temple festival of India, and holds a special place in the hearts of the Odia people. At this year’s Rath Yatra, major deviations in rituals resulted in a ruckus in full glare of TV cameras, angering millions of devotees. After a prolonged debate last year and intervention by Odisha High Court, the climbing of devotees atop chariots was banned. A similar diktat was issued by the Shankaracharya and an understanding between Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and servitors to ensure the ban was reached. However, a few relatives of the servitors defied the ban. When Arvind Agarwal, district collector of Puri intervened, servitors manhandled members of district administration and media personnel. The ritual of Niladri Bije, that of the deities returning to their temple after a nine-day-long sojourn at their aunt’s place, was delayed causing anguish to many devotees. Following legal action, some servitors were suspended; others arrested. The state government, whose law minister, Arun Sahoo was present on the occasion, constituted a one-man judicial commission, headed by retired judge of Odisha High Court, Bimal Prasad Das, to suggest reforms in management of Sri Jagannath Temple, Puri. On July 25 it was alleged that the state government paid Rs 2 crore to servitors as compensation for the loss that prevention of taking devotees atop chariots brought about to honour the Odisha High Court verdict. There are nearly 6,000 servitors in 119 categories that help run the Jagannath Temple.

Rahul’s info on ‘PM’s corruption’ turns out to be old I-T diary notings

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi chose a public rally in Mehsana, Gujarat to reveal the information he had claimed would trigger ‘an earthquake’ in Delhi.Gandhi’s charges of corruption against Prime Minister Narendra Modi have sent the ruling BJP seething. The party has described the allegations as “baseless, irresponsible and shameful” and an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland scam.The information on Prime Minister Modi’s “personal corruption” which Gandhi finally let out after days of suspense related to the account books of Sahara and Birlas seized by the Income Tax Departments. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told a press conference here that Gandhi had brought out nothing new as he had tabled the Income Tax Department’s appraisal reports of both Sahara and Aditya Birla Groups in the Assembly showing the bribes allegedly paid to Modi in 2013 during his tenure as the Gujarat Chief Minister. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader, Derek O’Brien, was also quick to claim credit that it was his party that had first held demonstrations in the Parliament House Complex on December 2, 2014 with the red diary of Sahara, exposing Modi’s corruption.Gandhi, who was originally told by his aides to raise the issue on the floor of the House, so he could not be hauled in any court of law, finally threw the ‘bombshell’ at Modi in his home state of Gujarat. He also challenged the government to set up an independent inquiry while reeling out details of the money paid to Modi during his tenure as the Chief Minister. He accused the government of sitting on the Income Tax Department’s plea for a probe into the documents seized. Gandhi had earlier accused the BJP of preventing him from revealing these details in the Lok Sabha, and claimed that Modi was already “terrified”.The Congress Vice-President referred to a diary seized during a raid on the Sahara company on November 22, 2014 that allegedly showed Rs 40.5 crore being paid in nine instalments from October 30, 2013 to February 22, 2014. He also referred to the records of a Birla company with the Income Tax Department that allegedly show Rs 25 crore meant for the (then) Gujarat CM, Rs 12 crore of which was “given” and a question mark on the balance. The date-wise payments as claimed by Rahul in the Sahara diary were: Rs 3 crore on October 30, 2013, Rs 5 crore on November 12, 2.5 crore on Nov 27, Rs 5 crore on Nov 29, Rs 5 crore on Dec 6, Rs 5 crore on Dec 19, Rs 5 crore on January 13, 2014, Rs 5 crore on Jan 28 and Rs 5 crore on February 22. The Supreme Court last month had refused to order an investigation into the entries made in this diary. “We cannot initiate an investigation just because a big man has been named by someone. He is a high public functionary and we cannot proceed on materials like this. We need better material,” Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar told senior advocate Shanti BhushanThe BJP was quick to accuse Rahul of fighting for his political existence taking recourse to lies, expressing pity that he were suffering from “Modi phobia.” Party spokesman Srikant Sharma said Rahul is a “part time and non-serious politician” belonging to a party that has the habit of levelling baseless charges on PM Modi. Hitting back at Gandhi, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the allegations reflected the Congress leader’s frustration and were an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland probe in which the names of Congress leaders and the “family” were coming up. He said thePrime Minister was as “pure” as the Ganga. “The allegations levelled against the PrimeMinister are baseless, false, shameful and mala fide and they reflected Rahul Gandhi’s frustration in leading his party to disastrous defeats in state after state,” he said.

AgustaWestland scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi seeks bail from special CBI court

New Delhi:  Former IAF chief SP Tyagi  on Wednesday sought bail from a special court on the ground that there was no apprehension of him fleeing from justice as all evidences in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam case were documentary in nature and have already been seized by the CBI.

“Please let me (Tyagi) go home,” Tyagi’s counsel urged before the Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar who put up the matter for further hearing on 23 December.

The court heard the arguments from the counsel of Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan, all three accused in the case, and adjourned the matter after the probe agency said it needed time to argue on the bail pleas.

While seeking relief, Tyagi’s advocate Maneka Guruswamy said “my client cannot languish in jail for an indefinite period for no reason. He has voluntarily cooperated to the best of his abilities. My client has appeared on every date (when he was) summoned by CBI and even without the summons.

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

All evidences are documentary in nature and already in the custody of CBI.”

She also told the court that Italy’s top court has ordered retrial of ex-Finmeccanica executives in the chopper scam case which makes CBI’s stand weak in the current case.

“Even his wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and her mother were called by the probe agency and interrogated even before his arrest,” the counsel said.

Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, appearing for Khaitan, also sought the relief claiming that the “allegations against me (Khaitan) is of money trail and that part is already being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). I cannot be put in jail twice for the same offence… They (CBI) have encroached my personal liberty for nothing.”

Sanjeev Tyagi’s counsel too sought bail, saying “if granted the relief, my client will not try to flee from the justice and tamper with the evidences.”

The court had on 17 December sent all the three accused to the judicial custody till 30 December.

71-year old Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on 9 December by the agency in connection with the case. The accused have alleged that the “CBI was trying to extract the confession using force”.

The defence counsel also claimed that there was no apprehension of them fleeing from the justice or tampering with evidence.

“My client is a 72-year-old decorated war hero. He suffers from heart and eye diseases and several other ailments. He has deep roots in the society after 44 years of distinguished career,” SP Tyagi’s counsel said.

The case relates to procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from UK-based firm during the UPA-2 regime.

The CBI had said it was a “very serious” and “a very high-profile” case requiring interrogation to unearth larger conspiracy as the “interest of the nation was compromised”. It had submitted that “one part of the crime was committed in India while various other angles are in foreign land.”

Tyagi’s counsel had earlier claimed that the decision to procure VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was also a part of it.

CBI had alleged that Tyagi had “abused his official position” and when he was the Air Chief Marshal, he had made huge investments in land and other properties and had not disclosed the source his income.

It was also alleged that Khaitan was the “brain” behind how the bribe money reached India and how several firms through which the money travelled came into existence, while Sanjeev was known to the alleged European middleman Carlo Gerosa.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 19:17 IST

Supreme Court to examine whether courts can add ‘rigorous’ to life terms

New Delhi: Can the word ‘rigorous’ be added by courts when they award life imprisonment? The Supreme Court has agreed to examine the question whether courts are statutorily empowered to make life imprisonments tougher for the convicts by adding “rigorous” (harsh) to life sentence as the law does not provide for this. A bench headed by Justice PC Ghose considered a submission which said that neither the penal provision dealing with the offence of murder, nor the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provide that the term “rigorous” can be added by courts while awarding life sentence to convicts.

Supreme Court Of India. AFPSupreme Court Of India. AFP

Supreme Court Of India. AFP

“Let notice be issued in the matter limited to the question whether life imprisonment could be coupled with the condition that such imprisonment has to be rigorous imprisonment, returnable after four weeks,” the bench, also comprising Justice UU Lalit, said.

Senior advocate Parmanand Katara, appearing for convict Ram Kumar Sivare, who has been awarded rigorous life term in a murder case, has contended that the judgement pronounced by the courts below was “unconstitutional and ultra-vires” as penal and procedural laws do not empower them to qualify the life sentence with the term “rigorous”.

“The award of rigorous life imprisonment by the lower court and the Chattisgarh High Court is violative of Article 21 (protection of life and liberty) and 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution,” the lawyer said. The apex court was hearing the appeal filed by Sivare, who is serving rigorous life term at a Chattisgarh jail, challenging the High Court verdict in a murder case.

The High Court had upheld the trial court judgement convicting and awarding life term to Sivare and Bhuneshwar Prasad for stabbing to death one Anil Bhoyar on 5 January, 2010 near a government hospital in Durg district of Chattisgarh following a tiff over a minor issue.

The trial court had acquitted the third accused Manoj, which was upheld by the High Court.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 15:32 IST

Cannot ban all ‘Sharia courts’ that have legal existence: Haji Ali petitioner

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Madras high Court put an end to the menace of illegal ‘Sharia courts’ functioning from various mosques across Tamil Nadu, the Haji Ali petitioner Noorjehan Safia Niaz on Tuesday cited a Supreme Court judgement which pronounced that one cannot ban all ‘Sharia courts’ that have a legal existence.”There is a Supreme Court judgement that says that you cannot ban all the Sharia courts that exist and have a legal existence. The Supreme Court has also said that any decision taken by the Sharia court will not be binding and they can be challenged in the regular court of law. But the fact that they are legal, the Supreme Court has already passed the judgment few years back,” Safia Niaz said.Directing the Tamil Nadu government to curb unauthorised ‘Sharia’ courts, the Madras High Court on Monday, declared all Sharia courts working out of mosques as illegal. The High Court made it clear that religious places are meant to be used only for religious purposes.The High Court bench comprising of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sundar also ordered the Tamil Nadu government to file a status report within four weeks regarding the same.

Gujarat HC starts hearing appeals in Naroda Patiya riot case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Gujarat High Court on Monday started hearing appeals in the 2002 Naroda Patiya case, including those filed by former BJP minister Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi.Defence lawyers started arguments before the division bench of justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehia. While Kodnani, Bajrangi and other convicts have challenged the verdict of the trial court, the Supreme Court- appointed Special Investigation Team has filed appeals against acquittals of 29 accused. It has also sought enhanced punishment for some of the convicts.The hearing is likely to be conducted on a daily basis. Last month, Justice Akil Kureshi had recused himself after which the case was transferred to the present bench. Before that, Justices M R Shah, K S Jhaveri, G B Shah, Sonia Gokani and R H Shukla had recused themselves from the matter. Also, in April 2015, the apex court had stayed the proceedings after SIT complained that Justice R R Tripathi of the high court was hearing only Kodnani’s appeal expeditiously. Tripathi retired and the case went to another division bench.97 people belonging to the minority community were killed by a mob during a riot in Naroda Patiya area of Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning incident in which 59 karsevaks died. The trial court had on August 30, 2012 awarded life imprisonment to Kodnani and 29 others, and “imprisonment till death” to Bajrangi. It had acquitted 29 others.

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as army chief: Strategic vision, not tactical achievements may have swung decision

Predictably, the government’s decision of appointing Lt General Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) by superseding the “senior-most eligible officers”, the Eastern Army Commander Lt General Praveen Bakshi, and Southern Army Commander Lt General PM Hariz, has now become a political issue, with the Opposition Congress, Janata Dal (U) and the two Communist parties (CPM and CPI) questioning the decision.

In fact, as I had written in this platform last week, it is this unfortunate politicisation of the military appointments that prevents the new and better norms from being encouraged for the much required military reforms in the country.

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. File photo. Getty Images

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. File photo. Getty Images

The issue of seniority in top appointments always raises the question: Which should prevail – the quantum of experience or the quality of experience? And, if one goes by the examples of leading military powers of the world, there has been a systematic endeavour to go by the quality, not the quantum, of experience. It is in this context that it is interesting to know the Narendra Modi government’s explanation behind its choice of General Rawat as the next army chief.

Apparently, the government sources have told The Times of India, that “General Rawat is the candidate best suited to deal with emerging challenges, and that his operational experience and ‘general dynamism’ tipped the scales in his favour.” It is said that General Rawat has “more than 10 years of experience in counter-insurgency operations and on the Line of Control, besides serving on the China border. He has the requisite experience considering the current situation.”

Incidentally, it is not the first time in India that a senior-most officer has been denied the topmost position in his or her service, whether it is a civilian, judicial or a military job. Indira Gandhi was the prime minister when Justice AN Ray superseded three senior judges of the Supreme Court to become the Chief Justice in 1973. Again it was Indira Gandhi whose government in 1983 appointed General AS Vaidya as the Army Chief in 1983 superseding General SK Sinha.

In 2004, the Manmohan Singh government appointed Shyam Saran as the foreign secretary by superseding four senior officials in the Indian Foreign Service. But what it did in 2006 was even more eye-raising. It appointed Shivshankar Menon as foreign secretary, although 16 serving officers were senior to him; this was a decision that triggered a virtual rebellion in the Ministry of External Affairs, with many of the superseded diplomats deciding to quit the service. In 2014, the same Manmohan Singh government appointed Admiral Robin Kumar Dhowan as the Navy Chief, bypassing Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha, the flag officer commander-in-chief of the Western Naval Command and the senior most Naval officer at that time.

Of course, it is always debatable whether the above choices were based on the factor of merits or otherwise. But the point is that it is not a sacrosanct norm to go by the factor of seniority in the top-level military appointments. In neither the United Kingdom nor the United States, the countries that India will like to be compared with, the chiefs of the armed services are necessarily the senior-most officers; indeed in many a case their appointments have been least anticipated.

The appointment of Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach as the Head of the UK armed forces early this year was announced at a time when the military circles were expecting either Army General Sir Richard Barrons, or First Sea Lord Admiral George Zambellas for the coveted position. One remembers in this context the famous remark of the then Prime Minister David Cameron, “You do the fighting and I’ll do the talking.” Similarly, in the United States in 2011, President Barack Obama nominated a relatively junior General Martin Dempsey as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But neither in Britain nor in the US, had these appointments become a political issue.

In fact, there is now an emerging school of thought in the military sphere that while efforts must be made to identify “tactical commanders” at battalion and brigade level, for higher posts officers with “strategic leadership” potentials should be rewarded. Strategic leadership includes attributes of being a “combat genius” (fighting beyond the plan, innovating as one fights, staying well ahead of the enemy in imaginative application of combat power); “political genius” ( wielding and melding the elements of military power with allies and politicians, mastering civil-military discourse); “institutional genius” ( managing a very large institution and making it relevant to the needs of the nation); and “anticipatory genius” (having the ability to think in time and imagine conceptually where the nature and character of war is headed).

Here, the “experience” suggests that those officers who had shown great tactical skill did not equal great strategic skill. Tactically talented officers can do a great job in making the convoys run on time, but they may not anticipate a battlefield that has yet to appear. On the other hand, those gifted with strategic foresights have often been found wanting in tactical maneuvers; they have been better at conceptualising warfare rather than practicing it.

As retired US Major General Robert H Scales says, “Tactically talented officers can move hundreds. Strategically talented officers can maneuver hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Tactically talented officers know how to fight enemies they know. Strategically talented officers are prepared to fight enemies yet unforeseen. The tactically talented read the manuals and put existing doctrine into practice. Strategically talented officers continually question doctrine and eventually seek to change it. Tacticians see what is; strategists conjure what might be.”

Viewed thus, let us hope that General Rawat has been rewarded by the Modi government for his “strategic” leadership (or its assessment that the new chief will provide such a leadership) attributes, not necessarily for his “tactical” achievements in Kashmir, the China-borders and dealing with counterinsurgencies.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 15:59 IST

BJP-ruled Rajasthan tops list of states with highest atrocities against SC/ST; UP close second

New Delhi: BJP-ruled Rajasthan has reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against SCs and STs during 2013-15, followed by poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, a new government report said, even as the Centre on Monday flagged the issue of poor conviction rates in such cases.

Rajasthan has registered 23,861 cases under the amended Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, while UP and Bihar registered 23,556 and 21,061 cases respectively, according to the agenda papers for a meeting of a committee to review the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 held in New Delhi on Monday.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. Reuters

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. Reuters

Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil and Gujarat reported 14,016, 9,054, 8,084, 7,565, 6,546, 5,131 and 3,969 such crimes respectively during the years. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment observed that during 2013-15, only 43.3 percent of the total cases registered (13,8077) were disposed of by courts and 25.7 percent of total cases disposed of by courts (59,779), ended in conviction.

“In certain states, i.e. Andhra Pradesh (6.3 percent), Gujarat (3.1 percent), Karnataka (3.5 percent), Maharashtra (7.6 percent), Odisha (4.3 per cent), Tamil Nadu (7.5 percent), Telangana (7.5 percent) and West Bengal (3 percent), the conviction rate was in single digit,” the agenda note read.

The committee headed by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot sought action taken report from state governments to improve the disposal and conviction rates in such cases.

During the meeting, Gehlot pointed out that only 14 states have set up exclusive special courts for speedy trial of cases registered under the PoA Act.

However, he rued there was no information about formation of such courts by 22 states and Union Territories including Delhi, Punjab, Jharkhand, Haryana, Goa, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam etc and urged them to do the needful.

Section 14 of the amended PoA Act provides for establishing of exclusive special courts for one or more districts and where number of cases under this Act is less, specification of Court of Session as a Special Court, with powers to take direct cognisance of the offences under the PoA Act.

The Committee also wanted to know if the relief amount, that has been raised and made between Rs 85,000 to Rs 8,25,000 depending upon the nature of offence, is being given within seven days to the concerned persons as specified in the PoA Rules amended on April 14, 2016.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 15:44 IST

Atrocities against SC, ST: BJP-ruled Rajasthan tops list, UP follows

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP-ruled Rajasthan has reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against SCs and STs during 2013-15, followed by poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, a new government report said, even as the Centre today flagged the issue of poor conviction rates in such cases. Rajasthan has registered 23,861 cases under the amended Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, while UP and Bihar registered 23,556 and 21,061 cases respectively, according to the agenda papers for a meeting of a committee to review the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 held here today. Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil and Gujarat reported 14,016, 9,054, 8,084, 7,565, 6,546, 5,131 and 3,969 such crimes respectively during the years.The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment observed that during 2013-15, only 43.3% of the total cases registered (13,8077) were disposed of by courts and 25.7% of total cases disposed of by courts (59,779), ended in conviction. “In certain states, i.e. Andhra Pradesh (6.3%), Gujarat (3.1%), Karnataka (3.5%), Maharashtra (7.6%), Odisha (4.3%), Tamil Nadu (7.5%), Telangana (7.5%) and West Bengal (3%), the conviction rate was in single digit,” the agenda note read.The committee headed by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot sought action taken report from state governments to improve the disposal and conviction rates in such cases. During the meeting, Gehlot pointed out that only 14 states have set up exclusive special courts for speedy trial of cases registered under the PoA Act.However, he rued there was no information about formation of such courts by 22 states and Union Territories including Delhi, Punjab, Jharkhand, Haryana, Goa, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam etc and urged them to do the needful.Section 14 of the amended PoA Act provides for establishing of exclusive special courts for one or more districts and where number of cases under this Act is less, specification of Court of Session as a Special Court, with powers to take direct cognisance of the offences under the PoA Act.The Committee also wanted to know if the relief amount, that has been raised and made between Rs 85,000 to Rs 8,25,000 depending upon the nature of offence, is being given within seven days to the concerned persons as specified in the PoA Rules amended on April 14, 2016.

Punit Goenka receives Business Today Best CEO award

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punit Goenka, Managing Director and CEO of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) was awarded on Saturday the Business Today Best CEO award in the media and entertainment category for 2016.The award was presented by Minister of Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad, India Today group Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Aroon Purie and Wave Group Vice Chairman Manpreet Chadha.Accepting the prestigious award on behalf of ZEEL Chairman Dr Subhash Chandra and the Zee team, Goenka said, “We have consistently grown ahead of market, expanded our network viewership share and experienced growth of our product bouquet, both in India and internationally. As we approach our Silver Jubilee, I am confident that driven by innovation and creativity, we will move one step closer towards achieving our ambition of becoming the world’s leading media company from the emerging markets.”The other prominent recipients of the BT Best CEO Awards for the current year were Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Airtel, C P Gurnani, CEO & MD of Tech Mahindra and Sunil Duggal, CEO of Dabur.The methodology used for selection of the Best CEO Awards entailed an extensive study of a company’s operational performance and returns to its shareholders. This exercise was carried out by BT’s Knowledge partner PwC India. The business magazine first used the BT500 list of most valuable Indian companies as a base and then analysed three-year data, using parameters such as growth in total income, total shareholder returns and profit before interest and tax (PBIT).“Based on this analysis, an independent jury comprising renowned business leaders, Nimesh Kampani, Founder and Chairman, JM Financial Group; Kalpana Morparia, CEO of JP Morgan India; Haigreve Khaitan, Senior Partner, Khaitan & Co; and Sri Rajan, Chairman, Bain & Co. India. then chose the final winners for this year,” said the statement issued by the ZEEL.The company reported a 21.76 per cent increase in its consolidated net profit at Rs 216.96 crore for the quarter ended June 30 compared to net profit of Rs 178.18 crore in the same period of previous fiscal.

Nirbhaya’s mom still struggling for justice

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four years ago, a 23-year-old paramedical student was brutally gang-raped on a moving bus in the national Capital. The incident shook everyone and triggered mass protests across the country demanding justice for her. Four years later, her parents say they are still struggling for justice.”It has been four years and we are still seeking justice for my beloved daughter. I want to ask the government how long will I have to protest before my daughter gets justice,” said Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi on “Nirbhaya Chetna Diwas”, which was organised by the Nirbhaya Trust at Jantar Mantar on Friday.”The government at the Centre has changed, but our never-ending wait for justice continues,” she added.On the intervening night of 15-16 December, 2012, Nirbhaya was brutally raped on a moving bus by six people, including a juvenile, in south Delhi. The incident took place while she was returning home after watching a movie with a friend. Thirteen days after the incident, she died in a hospital in Singapore.The incident triggered an uproar and stirred a debate on the safety of women across the country. “Four years ago, when thousands of people took to the street demanding justice for my daughter, I thought things will eventually change for women in the country. Sadly, the situation remains the same. A girl was raped today in Delhi,” said the grieving mother.A 19-year-old girl, who had come to Delhi for a job, was on Friday raped in taxi by the driver. The rape survivor was a resident of Noida.Urging people to create awareness about women’s rights and safety, the mother of the braveheart said, “Every now and then we hear of a woman being assaulted, raped or even gang-raped. Neither kids or elderly women are spared. We need another uprising demanding safer public spaces for women”.Among the six accused arrested in the Nirbhaya case, Ram Singh hung himself in prison in March 2013, while another man, who was a juvenile at the time of the incident, was released on December 15, 2015, after spending three years in jail. The other four were found guilty and sentenced to death by the Delhi High Court in September 2013, following which they challenged the decision in the apex court where it is at the moment.

Disability Bill only legislation passed this session

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The only silver lining in an otherwise uneventful Parliament session came in the form of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016, which saw its passage in the Lok Sabha on Friday. Only the President’s nod is left for the Bill’s legislative finality.Congress MP, KC Venugopal, while supporting the Bill, raised the issue of decreased reservations. He asked the government why the quota for the disabled from the 2014 bill introduced by UPA minister Mallikarjun Kharge which was fixed at 5% was decreased to 4% in the 2016 Bill.TMC MP Saugata Roy further said that that the District Advisory Boards, proposed under the Bill, should also have representatives of the people. BJD MP Tathagata Satpathy, while supporting the Bill, stressed on the changing of the name to “differently-abled” and on the need of better research to bring in prosthetics that connects to the nerves of the user. TSP MP K Kavitha, on her part, brought to notice the need to focus reservations for disabled women, while supporting and lauding the Bill.Soon after the Bill was passed, a gathering of the differently-abled reached the residence of minister Thawarchand Gehlot to break into a celebration of sorts. “I am thankful for all the esteemed politicians in the Parliament who came together to help us pass the Bill, in order to benefit some of the most marginalised people in the society,” he said, adding the his government has brought in battery-run wheelchairs for the disabled, and unique identity cards.Avnish Kumar Awasthi, joint secretary with the department of persons with disabilities at the social justice ministry, says that while one struggle was over, another is to begin. “We need to work on the rules now, in which will try to include some of the key recommendations of the Standing Committee that were not adapted in the Bill,” said Awasthi.The 2016 bill has adopted over 119 amendments, including 59 recommendations from the standing committee, and partially agreeing to over 7 recommendations.The Bill brings in an increase of over 1% in reservations for the disabled in government jobs from the existing 3%, and of over 2% in educational institutions from the existing 3%. The Bill also makes education for disabled children between the age of six to 18 years free. The Bill also mandates jailtime between six months to five years years for several offences, including assaulting, insulting, intimidating, and denying food to a disabled person, sexually assaulting a disabled woman, or for performing a medical procedure on a disabled woman without her consent which may lead to the termination of pregnancy.The Bill recognises, for the first time, sign language as an official mode of communication, and now makes it mandatory for live functions on TV to carry subtitles.

Madras HC adjourns hearing in Jayalalithaa’s ‘forged signature’ against Ponnaiyan, Apollo Hospital

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Madras High Court adjourned hearing on a PIL on Friday, which sought a direction to police to register a case against AIADMK leader Ponnaiyan and Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals here in connection with a press statement released on behalf of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, alleging that her signature was forged.The PIL was filed by activist ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy. When it came up, Fathima, said to be a student of Ramaswamy, appeared before the court and said due to some illness he was unable to be present and she was representing him. The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sundar, observed that it cannot entertain any arguments put forth by the student of the petitioner since the PIL is filed by ‘party-in-person’. It then adjourned the matter to January 9.In his complaint to police, Ramaswamy had stated that a press report released on November 13, in the name of Jayalalithaa by AIADMK leader Ponnaiyan carried no signature of the late leader. He further alleged that in another press release issued later, Jayalalithaa’s signature varied raising doubts.Ramaswamy also claimed that the signature of the AIADMK supremo was forged by someone and wanted police to send the press release for forensic analysis. As the press report was released with the help of the Hospital Management, the petitioner sought action against the Managing Director of the Hospital besides Ponnaiyan and others for allegedly committing forgery. The petitioner had moved the court claiming the authorities had failed to respond.

Sahara-Birla raids: Prashant Bhushan irks SC by seeking recusal of Justice Khehar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday termed as “most unfair” the plea of lawyer Prashant Bhushan seeking recusal of senior-most judge Justice JS Khehar from hearing a PIL seeking an SIT probe into alleged recovery of documents in Income Tax raids on two business houses, Sahara and Birla, in 2012.The PIL makes bribery allegations against politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat Chief Minister. The court had on Wednesday questioned Bhushan whether aspersions could be cast against the prime minister without placing sufficient evidence. “You are talking about the highest court of the country. Do you think we can succumb to any pressure?” a bench comprising Justices JS Khehar and Arun Mishra said.The court was irked when Bhushan, representing NGO Common Cause which has filed PIL, sought recusal of Justice Khehar, whose name has been recommended by outgoing Chief Justice TS Thakur as his successor.”Though I have no doubt about the integrity, it is my duty, an unpleasant duty, as an officer of the court (to say) that this matter be heard by some other bench on reopening (after winter vacation),” Bhushan said, apparently hinting at the pendency of approval by the executive designating Justice Khehar as the next CJI.”Why should you say all this? it’s very unfair. You appeared twice, thrice before us but you didn’t say anything. Today you are saying things” the bench remarked. “If you had any problem you should have pointed out. It is very, very unfair. You are talking about the highest court. You are doubting a Constitutional functionary. Not fair,” the bench said.The top court bench also questioned the NGO and Bhushan for coming out with a plea without sufficient material and raising serious allegations against the highest constitutional functionary of the country.”This is the cheapest tactics and has never been done in the Supreme Court,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for centre, said adding that “This is more unfortunate as has been done in a PIL.”The bench, which was visibly upset, offered two solutions to AG and Bhushan saying either this matter be sent to the CJI for hearing by another bench or let the hearing be deferred to January till after the winter break. “I will agree with the second option,” Rohatgi said. Bhushan also agreed to the suggestion and said he will file a detailed affidavit in the matter.The apex court then deferred the hearing to January 11, 2017. The apex court had on December 14 made it clear that it is not going to entertain the plea of the NGO seeking SIT probe into alleged recovery of documents by the IT department in connection with the raids on two business houses unless it comes out with firm and relevant material. The apex court had said there was difficulty in going into the petition which deals with high functionaries as it was not supported by even smallest material.The NGO had moved an application seeking constitution of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe “incriminating” evidence and details of “unaccounted” cash recovered allegedly during the raids by the Income Tax department and CBI on the two companies in 2013-2014. The NGO had alleged that the documents seized by CBI in its search operation in Mumbai reportedly revealed massive bribery of politicians and officials of various ministries over several years. The bench had said it does not want to keep the matter pending and asked the NGO to come out with firm material on the matter in two days.When Bhushan said the court was forcing him to bring the relevant material within two days, the bench had said, “it is not unreasonable as you are just casting aspersions”. The bench, while stressing on the need for relevant material, had said, “Give us any smallest material, we will deal with it. We have already told you that you are talking about conversation about persons on telephone. These are nothing. You are dealing with high functionaries.”On November 25, the top court had refused to go into the NGO’s plea seeking probe into alleged recovery of documents by the IT department in connection with raids on the two business houses here in 2013-14 which purportedly showed computerised inventories containing designations of top people having received money. The application had claimed that “actionable evidence” gathered during the raids on both the groups was given a “quiet burial” by IT department and CBI.

Parliament passes Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Keeping aside the acrimony over demonetization issue which paralysed the Winter session, Parliament on Friday passed the Disabilities Bill which stipulates up to two year jail term and a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons.The Lok Sabha passed the bill within two hours after a short debate on the last day of the session with the treasury and opposition benches, who have been at loggerheads over demonetization and other issues, joining hands to clear the legislation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House during the passage of the bill.Earlier on Wednesday, the Rajya Sabha too had witnessed similar bonhomie for passage of The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016.Replying to the debate, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot announced that a scheme of ‘universal identity card for the disabled’ is on the anvil and an agency has already been finalised for the purpose. The proposed card would also be linked to the Aadhar card to help the disabled all over the country in a seamless fashion, he said. Gehlot said the universal identity card is being acted upon to overcome the problem of disability certificate being faced by those affected. He said the government has joined hands with German and British firms for making available state-of-the-art limbs to the disabled wherever possible.The Lok Sabha witnessed a division on an amendment by Congress and TRS members seeking to raise the reservation in the bill from 4 to 5 per cent. It was defeated by 121 to 43 votes. KC Venugopal of the Congress who had given the amendment pressed for the division. Members from both sides supported the bill but suggested certain changes to improve the measure.

Narendra Dabholkar murder case: Bombay HC reprimands CBI for slow probe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Coming down heavily on CBI, the Bombay High Court on Friday said it was “bungling up” probe in the murder case of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar by causing inordinate delay in obtaining forensic reports from the Scotland Yard.A division bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and BP Colabawalla, which was hearing petitions filed by the family of Dabholkar and murdered activist Govind Pansare seeking HC supervision in the probe, was irked when CBI sought further adjournment in the case as it was still awaiting report from the forensic lab in UK. “The more you postpone and delay the more benefit the accused will get. It also gives an impression in the society that you (CBI) are not serious about the case and are not pursuing the probe sincerely. “You are just bungling it up. It is your credibility at stake. You should remember that this delay is impacting two trials which are ready to commence,” the court said.The agency had earlier claimed before the HC that it had sent bullets and empty shells recovered from Pansare’s body and the crime scene to the Scotland Yard to ascertain if there was any link between the Dabholkar and Pansare murders. The agency wanted to seek a third opinion as the forensic labs in Mumbai and Bangalore had submitted conflicting reports.Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for CBI, today told the court that the agency is still awaiting reports from UK and that several letters have been sent pursuing the case. “Alternately we could seek opinion from the forensic lab in Delhi,” Singh said.Irked by this, the court said if there was alternative of seeking opinion locally then why did the agency not do it before. “You (CBI) were aware of the difficulties and obstacles when you sought report from UK. What prevented you from seeking opinion from a local third party expert before? The point is efforts taken should be sincere. Especially in cases like this where the offence is of a serious nature and impacts the society,” Justice Dharmadhikari said. The court noted that the delay caused by the probe agency would not only benefit the accused but would also give a bad impression to the society at large.On Pansare murder case which is being probed by the state CID, the court called for better coordination between CBI and CID. “When the accused are common in both the cases then the agencies should coordinate and take joint efforts to nab the accused,” the court said.Special public prosecutor Ashok Mundargi, appearing for state CID, told the court today that a supplementary charge sheet has been filed in the case against two accused – Sameer Gaikwad and Virendra Tawde and two absconding accused. Mundargi said all efforts are being taken to nab the absconding accused.The court while posting the petitions for hearing after six weeks said this was the last chance it was giving to CBI to procure reports from UK and also sought a progress report from CID on its probe against the absconding accused.While Dabholkar was murdered in Pune on August 20, 2013, Pansare was shot on February 16, 2015 in Kolhapur. He died on February 20.

Four years after horrific December 16 gangrape, Nirbhaya’s mother still awaits justice

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Extremely upset with the fact that justice has not been meted out to her daughter despite four years after the horrific December 16 gang-rape incident, Nirbhaya’s mother on Friday said that no action has yet been taken against the accused despite the matter being heard in the Supreme Court and added that the situation remains the same as nobody is scared of the law.”It has been four years today, but till now justice has not been served to her (Nirbhaya). We have been trying a lot from the past four years to ensure that she gets justice, yet the accused have not been punished. The case is pending in the Supreme Court, but still we don’t know when she will get justice,” said Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi.”Even today the same thing is happening, small children are being assaulted which indicate that the law of the country is not working properly as it should. Nobody is scared of the law,” she said.
ALSO READ Nirbhaya rape convict Vinay Sharma attempts suicide in Tihar Jail, admitted to hospitalNirbhaya was brutally gang-raped on the intervening night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. The incident took place while she was returning with a friend after watching a movie.She died 13 days after the incident at a hospital in Singapore.
ALSO READ Delhi gangrape: Delhi HC rejects plea seeking seizure of ‘India’s Daughter’ documentaryOf the six men arrested in the case, one of the accused Ram Singh hanged himself in prison in March 2013, while another man, who was a juvenile at the time of the crime, was convicted in August and will serve the maximum sentence of three years in a reform home.The other four — Akshay, Vinay Sharma, Pawan and Mukesh — were found guilty and sentenced to death by the Delhi High Court in September 2013.
ALSO READ Amid reports of placing Delhi gangrape juvenile convict under NGO monitoring, Nirbhaya’s parents say he should remain in jailThe men have challenged the death sentence in the Supreme Court, which is currently hearing their appeal.

Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as acting CBI director not illegal: Centre to SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre told the Supreme Court on Friday that the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as acting director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was not illegal or contrary to the apex court’s judgement.Centre told the court that the curtailment of service of senior IPS officer RK Dutta at CBI was as per the law governing the probe agency. It also informed the court that the process to select a regular CBI director was on and the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition may meet this month.The Supreme Court was hearing the plea filed regarding the Asthana’s appointment. The plea, filed by NGO Common Cause, has alleged that the Centre took a series of steps in a “completely malafide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Asthana was given the charge of CBI director”.The PIL contends that after Anil Sharma’s term as the CBI director came to end on December 2, and it was incumbent upon the government to convene a meeting comprising of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief of Justice of India for the appointment of a new director.”However, the government took a series of steps in a completely mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Rakesh Asthana was given the charge as CBI Director,” the petition stated.Listing these steps, it said that just two days before incumbent Director Anil Sinha was to step down on December 2, 2016, Special Director RK Dutta was transferred to the Home Ministry by creating a post of Special Secretary, upgrading by two layers, the post of the joint secretary. The PIL says that this was done to hamper the chances of Dutta stepping into the shoes of Sinha as he was number two in the hierarchy of the investigating agency.The petition stated that the Central Government did not convene meeting of the selection committee even though it was fully aware that Sharma was going to demit the office of CBI. “This deliberate dereliction was in complete violation of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, as amended by the Lokpal Act, 2013,” it stated.Asthana had earlier held several important positions in Gujarat Police. He was also part of a Special Investigative Team (SIT) set up by the Gujarat Government to probe the Godhra train burning case.The petition alleges that the government wanted to appoint its own choice as interim CBI Director “even if it meant bypassing the statutory law, the norms of propriety, and the directions contained in the Vineet Narain’s judgement.””The judgment in Vineet Narain’s case had clearly held that the tenure of CBI Director would be two years. This was to ensure that there is no ad-hocism in the appointment and functioning of the CBI Director,” the petition states. “Therefore, the petitioner submits that the government must be directed to comply with the mandate of the law and call for the meeting of the selection committee as per the DSPE Act, 1946 as amended by Lokpal Act, 2013,” the petition added. The Supreme Court will resume hearing on the matter on January 17, 2017.With inputs from ANI/PTI.

2012 Delhi gangrape: Has women’s safety improved since Jyoti Singh incident?

Come December and chances are that most of us Indians will mentally relive a suppressed impression of pain, horror and regret — even if in passing. The gangrape of Jyoti Singh on 16 December, 2012 that shook the country’s conscience and triggered massive outrage, is something that has been imprinted on our collective memory forever. The unfortunate event became a landmark for the issue of women’s safety, witnessing an unprecedented public outcry, countless debates, and the death sentence for the perpetrators. Government and other civil bodies were stunned and propelled into action immediately.

The Central government amended the Criminal Law Act in 2013 and also set up the Nirbhaya Fund to be utilised for safety and empowerment of women. In 2015, Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) was made the nodal agency for utilisation of the fund, with guidelines by the Central government for the process of appraising, reviewing and monitoring schemes given by ministries. Three Union Budgets later, the fund corpus stands at Rs 3,000 crore, of which a paltry Rs 200 crore has been utilised. The Ministry of WCD’s Rs 244-crore proposal to set up crisis centres was downsized by the PMO to Rs 18 crore, thereby allowing only one centre in each state, instead of in each district as originally planned.

As per a press release by Ministry of WCD in May 2016, one scheme called Universalisation of Women Helpline has been approved, and also another one called Emergency Response System. A total of nine proposals from the Ministries of Home Affairs and Railways, Delhi Police and Delhi Transport department have been appraised and recommended but further progress remains unknown. With things moving at this pace, which includes a scheme for compensation to victims, the Supreme Court in May 2016 rapped the Centre for its lack of clarity on disbursal of funds saying that this amounted to the fund itself becoming mere “lip sympathy”.

File image of protests in Delhi following the rape of Jyoti Singh in 2012. PTI

File image of protests in Delhi following the rape of Jyoti Singh in 2012. PTI

The long appraisal-approval process along with the usual hurdles of inter-ministerial coordination, combined with the already existing problems of insufficient police personnel and slow delivery of the criminal justice system — the conviction rate for rape in 2011 stood at a dismal 26.4 percent — make for low deterrence. It is no surprise that there’s been little difference in the rape figures that have on the other hand begun to increase.

On another front, the gruesome episode brought us under severe, unforgiving media glare, and India came to acquire blemish as one of the major countries leading the world in rape culture. Story after story emerged in the media and circulated in civil organisations, academia and NGOs about “India’s hatred of women”, patriarchy, misogyny and the resultant violence and abuse; many went so far as to link the depravity to India’s caste system and its history of communalism. The result was a blanket tarnishing of our national character: Indians were rapists, and therefore, tourists needed to be wary if making India travel plans; industry needed to reconsider setting shop in India, Indian students were to be denied admission.

True, we could counter the allegations by arguments backed by statistics: that rape is equally prevalent in the developed world; that India in fact, has among the lowest percentage of rapes; and that studies have shown that underreporting of sexual crimes is the norm across the world. Looked at another way, in India, our women go out to work, pursue hobbies and sports, shop, go to restaurants, work in farms and other places, are seen on the roads, even at late hours in the night. This should be evidence enough that ours is far from being a demonised society, where everyone lives in utter dread.

Further, one’s personal experience in travelling to the interiors of the country does not betray that perversion is the norm; on the other hand, one has always come back with a pleasant feeling, seeing the rural peoples’ authenticity, chattiness and helpfulness. To careful watchers, the people’s own interactions among themselves are straight-forward, with women speaking up clearly and being heard — no trace of fear. Patriarchy, yes, and maybe violence, but does that automatically translate to rape culture? This is purely talking about the feel of the country’s towns and villages. Also, the fact that women by and large have not stopped working or changed their dressing styles should normally go a long way to remove doubts about sexual abuse being India’s outstanding — or differentiating — quality.

One, therefore, would be more inclined to put the blame on a general increase in perversion, craziness and violence, which is on the rise everywhere, and has also seized Indian society. It has nothing to do with the so-called “Indian culture of misogyny and intolerance”. A clue to this lies in the fact that sexual crimes against young boys are equally on the rise, and cut across caste lines.
That said, it does not matter where we stand relatively. For a society known to venerate the feminine aspect as a goddess, or even one that claims to be based on a system of eternal humanitarian values, the figures that emerge are a matter of highest national shame — 35,000 rapes in 2015.

Apart from the harm it causes to our prospects for tourism, industrial investment, education and other potential advantages from a globalised world, karmically, we as a people and land incur the curse of the helpless, whether woman or child, each time they are violated.

Countering this violence has been on the agenda for even state governments, most of which have made piecemeal efforts. In fact, some of them are worth replicating — like the anti-harassment SHE Teams in Telangana since 2014, and the Women’s Power Line — 1090 in Uttar Pradesh, launched by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in 2013

The latter, in particular, developed in conjunction with IIM-Lucknow, already accounts for the potential weak links and incorporates features like confidentiality, determined pursuance and feedback. Additionally, it views crime from the lens of conditioning, not criminality, and hence, counselling is an important ingredient. Police functioning is bolstered by ‘Power Angels’ — schoolgirls who are special police officers and act as police messengers, thus effectively countering the problem of insufficient police personnel.

Certainly, cues can be taken from the above and other states can follow suit. However, factors such as paucity of funds and lack of political will are often hard to overcome at the states’ level. For the country as a whole to benefit, it will need to be taken up as a concerted and integrated exercise at the Central level.

The simplest place to begin is with our strengths, or what we already have. A pointer in this direction is the near-equal participation by men in protests against rape. “In India, the (Jyoti Singh) case has triggered a lively honest, sustained and very healthy public debate — a public debate of a quality that wouldn’t be possible in many other countries… Yesterday, we celebrated International Women’s Day at the German Embassy here in Delhi with many local activists including many men… women and men ardently committed to furthering women empowerment in India,” said the German Ambassador to India last year, in the context of an Indian student being denied admission to a German university. Wholehearted public participation can, thus, be one possible indigenous solution.

File image of protests following the December 2012 gangrape in Delhi. Firstpost/Naresh Sharma

File image of protests following the December 2012 gangrape in Delhi. Firstpost/Naresh Sharma

Apart from activists and civil organisations, a workable and sizable volunteer strength already exists in the form of the National Service Scheme (NSS), which could be harnessed to tackle this national emergency. Jawaharlal Nehru had mooted the idea of NSS in 1958, based on the international concept of service by students, and the organization was formed in 1969. Currently, this works through the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and has 3.2 million students, participating in activities such as blood donation camps, tree plantation, disaster management, etc across the country. If adequately trained and sensitised, these students could become the interface between police and public, in both urban and rural areas. Crucial aspects of women’s safety could be tackled by engaging NSS volunteers in: one, keeping vigil and patrolling in shifts, to supplement police manpower; and two, they could be engaged for crime victimisation surveys, to supplement data of the National Crime Records Bureau, which is gathered from police stations, so that a more accurate estimate of the number of cases is reached.

NSS activity could be made compulsory in schools or credits could be given for participation, as an incentive. The National Policy on Education, 1986 had suggested giving NSS volunteers credit for social work and also extra credit for rural areas. This kind of training would not only add value to the personality of students, lending the dimension of sensitivity, responsibility and active citizenship, but also help develop good citizens in the country.

Extended further, and if we are to address this issue in a comprehensive manner, social and religious organisations such as the RSS, Madrassas, Mutts, village panchayats could all be approached and asked for help, suggestions and volunteers. This would have a major advantage of being able to bring everyone close together to work towards a national cause, from which their kith and kin stand to gain, immediately and in the coming generations. Additionally, corporates could help by increasing their CSR allocations to include women’s safety, and industry associations like Ficci and CII can contribute to the funds regularly. Premier institutes of education in management and technology could also be roped in for their expertise.

There will of course, need to be coordination between the Ministries of Youth Affairs, Education and Women and Child Development, and then with the state and local governments. For this, a supra-ministerial authority could also be considered and created to act as the nodal agency, which would tie all ends and coordinate with all participants and stakeholders in the process.

Together, these would be able to take care of some of the constraints that prevent our governments from taking adequate measures and moving ahead. Police reforms to increase manpower and speedy delivery in the criminal justice system would be the two things that would complete the process, on the execution front. Deep reforms through social transformation would still have to be carried out simultaneously, through other means.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 10:13 IST

Bombay High Court wants minors protected during Muharram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the state government whether it can implement the circular, issued in 2014, by Mumbai police, ensuring minors are prevented from taking part in Muharram procession and inflict injuries on themselves, across the state.The 2014, circular issued by Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations) had stated that the police will be taking all preventive measures to ensure that no follower of the Shia sect, inflict injuries on themselves. Meetings between organisers were held before the procession wherein senior members were appealed to ensure that injuries would not be inflicted. The police also kept first aid boxes and ambulances ready to meet with any unforeseen situation and video recorded the entire procession, which took place in South Mumbai.A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anuja Prabhudesai while hearing a suo-moto public interest litigation asked the government whether it would extend the scope of the police circular to entire state and if not then provide reasons for not doing so, before the court by January 9.In 2014, the court while hearing the petition had said, “Our concern is only about injuries caused to children, we don’t want to interfere in religious rites, but at the same time we don’t want the children to be injured.” The petition had taken objection to the injuries inflicted on children during the Muharram procession. It had also sought a ban on the procession as children were being injured by sharp weapons.Further, the ‘matam’ it claimed was prohibited under the newly enacted legislation — Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifices and Other Inhuman Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act.

SC downs shutters on liquor stores along highways

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a move to curb the menace of drunken driving, the Supreme Court banned liquor shops along national and state highways on Thursday. Stressing the importance and the need to improve road safety, a bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur further ordered that no liquor shops can operate or been seen within 500 metres of the highways.Liquor shops that are functional have been allowed to operate till April 1, 2017, however, licenses will be not be renewed or issued post March 31, 2017. The bench has ordered the chief secretaries of all the states to chalk out a plan to enforce the ban in consultation with excise and municipal officials.The SC gave this directive in response to a PIL filed by the NGO Arrive Safe. According to the NGO, around 1.42 lakh people were killed in road accidents, a majority of which were caused by drunk driving. The NGO claimed that the easy availability of liquor along highways was one of the main reasons for the road accidents.While reserving its order on December 7, the apex court had then expressed its concern over the fatalities reported every year in road mishaps, and indicated that it may direct the closure of liquor vends on national and state highways across the nation. The bench had also stated that it would direct the removal of the signages indicating their location. This move, the bench said was for the safety and security of the commuters on the highways who got “distracted” by seeing the shops and causing accidents.Expressed his unhappiness at the states’ inaction to curb the rising number of shops, Justice Thakur said, “We would not like any vends on national highways, state highways, advertisements, or signage about the availability of liquor shops. We will direct all highway authorities to remove all sign boards. It should be absolutely free from any distraction or attractions. It should not be visible. Visibility is the first temptation.”The bench pointed out that instead of curbing the number of shops, states had increased the number of licenses issued. Lashing out at the Central government for not doing anything concrete for the last 10 years, the court said it was forced to “step in.”The ban order came when the apex court was hearing petitions challenging various high court orders that disapproved the sale of liquor on highways. However, not all states were in the favour of the ban. Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab were in the forefront of voicing their opposition to the ban.The court heavily came down on the Punjab government for seeking relaxation and permitting liquor shops near highways if they are “elevated” ones and the vends 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 had said.The court also criticised Punjab for defending the interest of the liquor lobby saying, “You are acting like a mouthpiece for the liquor lobby by defending the policy.” The advocate representing Punjab appealed to the bench that also comprised of the CJI along with Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageshwar Rao, that the ban should be made effective from April 1, 2017 to avoid a loss of Rs. 1,000 crore to the exchequer.To the Jammu and Kashmir government, the apex court had said “You can start a door delivery of liquor,” in response to their argument that if the vends are away from the highway, people would have problems accessing them due to the terrains.Dry states (and union territories) in IndiaGujaratBiharNagalandLakhswadeepKerela (partial ban)State Actions against AlcoholRecently deceased Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha shut down 500 liquor stores on May 23, the first day of her fourth term as Chief Minister.In Bihar, the government issued a notification where those consuming alcohol could be jailed for up to seven years and fined by Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, two days after the Patna High Court quashed its order on banning alcohol consumption.

SC cracks whip on BCCI, Thakur faces jail on perjury charges

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Anurag Thakur was asking for it for a long time. And when the Supreme Court (SC) took him and other erring officials to task on Thursday for obstructing justice and lying under oath, Thakur took no time to surrender by offering “apology”.
It came as no surprise as Thakur has apparently been guided by former BCCI president N Srinivasan, who also tendered an unconditional apology when it was proved that he was defying the apex court orders during the time of spot-fixing trial “by not keeping distance from the board’s functioning”.But it will be sleepless nights for Thakur till the time the apex court decides on “whether he committed perjury by asking the International Cricket Council (ICC) to clarify if the recommendations made by the Justice R? Lodha panel amounted to interference in the board’s running”.Till then, the BCCI’s top boss has just one job left to do: to suggest his choice of names, if any, to be considered by the SC to be included in the panel of observers to replace the current crop of defiant officials. The Lodha panel, from its side, has already submitted the names of GK Pillai (former home secretary), Vinod Rai (former CAG) and Mohinder Amarnath (former India all-rounder) as interim administrators.BCCI’s senior counsel Kapil Sibal refused to name any on Thursday but opposed the name of Pillai. He opposed naming administrators saying “it would not solve any problem”.DNA has learnt that Pillai could still be appointed by the court. The name of Amarnath has been proposed by Cricket Association of Bihar secretary Aditya Verma. Last but not the least, amicus curiae and senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam could also be asked to help the panel in implementing the orders.In simple language, the first and foremost job for the new administrators will be to oversee the lucrative media rights contract for the Indian Premier League from 2018 onwards.Manohar fixes ThakurIt does not appear that it is the affidavit filed by former BCCI chief Shashank Manohar, the current ICC chairman, that is now haunting BCCI’s Thakur. Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Thursday observed that the BCCI president seems to have “committed perjury” after going through the different affidavits filed by ICC, Thakur and BCCI CAO Ratnakar Shetty.The amicus curiae, when asked by the court if Thakur has committed perjury or not, said: “Thakur lied on oath to the Supreme Court. In his affidavit, he said he sought Shashank Manohar’s opinion as BCCI chairman”. It further noted that Thakur “obstructed reform process”.”Your client (Anurag Thakur) will have no other way but to go to jail,” the CJI said, adding: “Prima facie, Anurag Thakur committed perjury. You (Thakur) ought to absolutely apologise if you want to escape. These kinds of things don’t help. Please don’t force us. You go to ICC and ask for a letter, so that you can return to say BCCI will be out of ICC. The whole objective was to stop the court. This seems to be a lucrative business (to be BCCI official) and everyone wants it to go on.”The apex court has, time and again, rapped the board on the knuckles asking whether it believes “it is a law unto itself” before freezing three bank accounts on October 21. However, the money was later released to enable the state associations to hold the ongoing Test series against England.BCCI has all along objected to three conditions — age and tenure, cooling-off period and one state, one vote — laid down by the SC. The top court will pass the order on January 2 or 3 when it opens after the winter break. The court has asked the BCCI to suggest the names of those who can oversee the matter. On Monday, the court had dismissed the BCCI’s plea, seeking a review of its July 18 verdict.

Cauvery row: Karnataka to release 2000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu till Jan 4

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the interim order of court on Cauvery Water Disputes would continue till January 4, 2017 and Karnataka would have to release 2000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu. Earlier on December 9, the top court upheld its constitutional power and right to hear appeals filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal final award in 2007.A three-judge Bench headed by Supreme Court Justice Dipak Misra rejected the Centre’s stand that the apex court had no jurisdiction to hear the Cauvery river dispute. The Centre had argued that the parliamentary law of Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956 coupled with Article 262 (2) of the Indian Constitution excluded the Supreme Court from hearing or deciding any appeals against the Cauvery Tribunal’s decision. The Centre claimed the tribunal award was final.The Centre said it was left to the government to frame a scheme for implementation of the tribunal award, and the scheme, once prepared, would be placed before both Houses of the Parliament for approval.The tribunal in its final award had determined the usable quantum of water of the Cauvery at 740 tmcft. Karnataka is entitled to 270 tmcft, Tamil Nadu to 419 tmcft, Kerala 30 tmcft, Puducherry 7 tmcft, and 14 tmcft is meant for environmental purposes, the tribunal had said.All three states have opposed the Centre’s stand, contending that a parliamentary law cannot stop the Supreme Court from exercising its constitutional power to hear appeals.The bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar had on October 19 reserved its order on maintainability of appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the 2007 award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT).In its review petition, Karnataka said “grave miscarriage of justice” has been caused to it pursuant to the three apex court orders of September 20, 27 and 30, by which it was directed to release 6000 cusecs of water till October 6 and the Centre was to constitute the Board by October 4.

SC to hear various pleas on demonetization today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Thursday will hear pleas related to a transfer petition filed by the Centre on demonetization of high-value currency notes along with several other petitions.Earlier on December 9, the apex court asked the Centre whether its decision to bring in demonetization was taken in absolute secrecy while hearing a bunch of petitions questioning the Narendra Modi government’s rationale behind the implementation of the policy.Chief Justice of India TS Thakur had asked the government to see if something can be done. “People are suffering, it is a serious problem.” he had said then.The Centre had submitted an affidavit last week on the demonetization move in the Supreme Court, saying it is an attempt to unearth black money stashed over the last seven decades. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that the Centre had filed a reply in the Supreme Court in compliance with the top court’s earlier order on the issue.The Centre in its affidavit told the apex court that demonetization is a step to reduce ratio of cash transactions, adding the objective is to unearth illegal parallel economy.Attorney General Rohatgi had earlier filed a transfer petition before the Supreme Court seeking a stay on all pending pleas against demonetization.The apex court had on November 18 refused to put a stay on hearings in various High Courts and lower courts related to the demonetization of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes.

Bulandshahr gangrape: Supreme Court to hear Azam Khan’s ‘unconditional apology’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court, which had earlier this month rejected Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan’s ‘unconditional apology’ for his alleged remarks on the Bulandshahr gang rape case, will hear the matter afresh on Thursday.The apex court had earlier on December 7 asked Khan to submit a fresh affidavit. An apex court bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra had asked the Samajwadi Party leader to file a fresh affidavit after noting that the earlier one filed by him has errors in it.The Attorney General also raised questions about the draft copy submitted by Khan in connection with the apology given by him. Earlier on November 18, the Samajwadi Party leader had told the apex court that he was ready to unconditionally apologise for describing as “political conspiracy” the gang-rape of two women near Bulandshahr in July.Appearing for Khan, senior advocate Kapil Sibal argued that his client had made a general remark which was not targeted at the family of the victim. However, the judges were not convinced and they asked Sibal as to how a public figure like Khan could make such a comment.The apex court had earlier directed media organisations to submit the video clip of the press conference in which Khan had made this statement.The Uttar Pradesh Minister created a controversy after he alleged that a “political conspiracy” is involved in the gang-rape of a minor girl and her mother on the highway in Bulandshahr on July 29.On August 29, the apex court issued a notice to Khan for his reported comment. The case was subsequently handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

NGT orders national ban on ‘manja’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an interim order passed on Wednesday, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned nylon and glass-coated cotton kite strings or manja across the country in view of its threat to humans, animals, and birds. The nationwide ban will be in place till the next hearing on February 1, 2017, which means that the sale of nylon or Chinese manja, synthetic manja, and cotton manja coated with glass will not be permitted during Makar Sankranti. Kite-flying enthusiasts though, will be able to use cotton kite strings.While passing the order, the principal bench, headed by NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar, has directed the Manja Association of India to submit a detailed report on the adverse effects of the kite strings to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). On the basis of that report, CPCB will submit its recommendations to the Tribunal for a long-term solution on the issue.The principal bench, headed by NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar, passed the interim order while hearing the petition of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The non-profit organization had sought a ban on use of harmful manjas on grounds that the sharp manjas have caused deaths in many parts of the country and every year low-flying kites and manjas cause injuries to hundreds of birds.Besides pointing out the fatal consequences of getting lacerated by manjas the PETA petition also said that the nylon, metal, plastic, and synthetic manjas are non-biodegradable and pollute the environment and also cause electricity supply disruptions when they come in contact with power cables. In 2014, the union environment, forest, and climate change ministry too issued an advisory to chief secretaries of all states and union territories to initiate action with regard to use of manja, the PETA petition mentioned. The advisory had stated that, “kite flyers who use such strings endanger birds such as pigeons, crows, owls, kites, and vultures”, that are threatened species.During Wednesday’s hearing, PETA’s counsel senior advocate Sanjay Hegde informed the bench that the High Courts of Allahabad, Jammu and Kashmir, and Rajasthan had previously issued directives banning use of manja in their respective states.

After wasting 18 days, RS gets into Act, clears Disabilities Bill

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After wasting 18 days in pandemonium on demonetization, the Rajya Sabha finally conducted its first legislative business of the Winter Session on Wednesday, unanimously passing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016.The exhaustive Bill, containing 119 amendments, had 59 suggestions from the Standing Committee that were accepted by the government.Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Thawar Chand Gehlot, said: “All the standing committee recommendations have been accepted. The number of categories of disabled are to be increased for physical as well as mental disabilities.”CPM leader Sitaram Yechury asked the government to remove the clause “this does not apply to posts that require people who are not disabled” and sought that the “reservation should be based on cadre strength, not on number of vacancies meant to be filled” to which Gehlot said he would ensure this is incorporated in the Rules later.To another issue raised by Yechury on the competent authority who will define certain disabilities, Gehlot said the medical board will decide on the definition as well as what disabilities are.Congress MP Viplove Thakur raised the need to extend the provision of disability pension to people below 18 years of age. Genhot replied that the benefit was not provided in the laws.The Bill was introduced by the UPA government in 2014, and an independent body of experts, The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), was set up in 2010 under activist Sudha Kaul to draw up the Bill and also to monitor policies regarding disability.While the Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, identifies blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness as disability, the 2016 Bill extends that to over 21 disabilities. These include autism spectrum disorder, blindness, cerebral palsy, locomotor disability, low-vision, leprosy cured persons, hearing impairment (deaf and hard of hearing), dwarfism, intellectual disability, mental illness, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, specific learning disabilities, multiple sclerosis, speech and language disability, thalassemia, haemophilia, sickle, cell disease, multiple disabilities, survivors of acid attacks, and Parkinson’s disease.The 2016 Bill is also compliant with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was ratified by India in 2007, adding for the first time, punitive action against those who discriminate against the disabled. While first-time offenders are now punishable for a 6-month jail time, and a fine of Rs 10,000, repeat offenders will be punishable of a jail term of up to 2 years with a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.The Bill also makes those with over 40 per cent disability to state benefits, including reservations in employment, education, railway tickets, etc., and increased the existing reservation quota of three per cent to five per cent, adding one per cent each for those suffering from mental illnesses and multiple disabilities.Guardianship of two types have been introduced by the Bill, including limited guardianship wherein the differently-challenged person takes joint decisions with the guardian, and plenary guardianship, where the guardian can take decisions on behalf of him/her.The Bill also extends the definition of “establishment” to include private bodies, and requires all existing public buildings to be made accessible for persons with disability, within five years.Another Standing Committee recommendation the Bill will adopt is the introduction of a sub-section on the rights of women and children with disabilities, which will help women and children access rights of equality and empowerment.While lauding the inclusiveness of the Bill, Dr Indumathi Rao of the CBR Network said that one of the drawbacks of the Bill is that it does not include infirmity due to old age, which is a crippling worry for many. “The government needs to follow this up by an increase in the budgetary allocation. And, since disability is a state subject, a massive awareness campaign to let people know about the new amendments is needed,” she said.Vikas Sharma of Disability Helpline India says that the Bill also ignores demands for the inclusion of political reservation for the disabled. “If we are looking at equity, we need to extend that to the highest echelons of the government,” he said.The government is expecting to table and pass the Bill in the Lok Sabha in the last remaining days of the Winter Session.

HC can’t direct for judges inclusion in security exemption list at airports: SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that judiciary cannot enter the domain of executive to direct it to include chief justices and judges of high courts in the list of people exempted from re-embarkation security checks at airports saying the “matters of security are not issues of prestige and they are not matters of ‘status'”.The apex court faulted more than decade-old direction of Rajasthan High Court to amend a circular dated May 1, 2002 of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) to include chief justices and the judges of the high court in the list of persons exempted from re-embarkation security checks at airports.”The High Court has evidently transgressed the ‘wise and self-imposed’ restraints (as they are described) on the power of judicial review by entertaining the writ petition and issuing these directions,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao said.The High Court had suo moto taken cognisance of a news report regarding breach of security at Sanganer airport in Rajasthan and had directed for amending of BCAS circular on VIPS/VVIPS exempted from security checks at the airports. While expressing its disapproval on High Court direction, Justice Chandrachud, writing the judgement for the bench said, “matters of security ought to be determined by authorities of the government vested with the duty and obligation to do so”.”Gathering of intelligence information, formulation of policies of security, deciding on steps to be taken to meet threats originating both internally and externally are matters on which courts singularly lack expertise.”The breach of security at Sanganer airport undoubtedly was an issue of serious concern and would have been carefully investigated both in terms of prosecuting the offender and by revisiting the reasons for and implications of a security lapse of this nature. This exercise was for the authorities to carry out,” the bench said while allowing the appeal of Centre against the 2005 directive of High Court. In the original circular, Chief Justice of India and judges of Supreme Court were included in the security check exemption list but the chief justices of high courts were not included. However, after the high court direction, the Centre had included chief justices of high courts and filed the appeal. The apex court maintained that “judges are expected to apply standards which are objective and well defined by law and founded upon constitutional principle. When they do so, judges walk the path on a road well-travelled”.”When judicial creativity leads judges to roads less travelled, in search of justice, they have yet to remain firmly rooted in law and the Constitution,” it said, adding that it was not for the court in the exercise of its power of judicial review to suggest a policy which it considered fit. “The formulation of suggestions by the high court for framing a National Security Policy travelled far beyond the legitimate domain of judicial review.”Formulation of such a policy is based on information and inputs which are not available to the court. The court is not an expert in such matters. Judicial review is concerned with the legality of executive action and the court can interfere only where there is a breach of law or a violation of the Constitution,” the bench said. Critical of the high court taking the matter on its own motion, the bench said “a suo moto exercise of the nature embarked upon by the high court encroaches upon the domain of the executive”.”In a democracy based on the rule of law, government is accountable to the legislature and, through it, to the people. The powers under Article 226 are wide wide enough to reach out to injustice wherever it may originate. “These powers have been construed liberally and have been applied expansively where human rights have been violated. But, the notion of injustice is relatable to justice under the law. Justice should not be made to depend upon the individual perception of a decision maker on where a balance or solution should lie”, the bench said. The apex court said the distinction between what lies within and what lies outside the power of judicial review is necessary to preserve the sanctity of judicial power.”Judicial power is respected and adhered to in a system based on the rule of law precisely for its nuanced and restrained exercise. If these restraints are not maintained the court as an institution would invite a justifiable criticism of encroaching upon a terrain on which it singularly lacks expertise and which is entrusted for governance to the legislative and executive arms of government. “Judgements are enforced, above all, because of the belief which society and arms of governance of a democratic society hold in the sanctity of the judicial process. This sanctity is based on institutional prestige.”Institutional authority is established over long years, by a steadfast commitment to a calibrated exercise of judicial power. Fear of consequences is one reason why citizens obey the law as well as judicial decisions. But there are far stronger reasons why they do so and the foundation for that must be carefully preserved. That is the rationale for the principle that judicial review is confined to cases where there is a breach of law or of the Constitution,” the judge said adding that the judgement of the Rajasthan High Court is an example of a matter where the court should not have entered.

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.

Rajya Sabha passes Disability Bill: How it can help improve life of differently-abled persons

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A bill stipulating up to two-year jail term and a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, which aims at securing and enhancing the rights and entitlements of disabled persons, was passed by a voice vote after rare unanimity was witnessed among the Opposition and Treasury benches in the House, which has seen acrimony and disruptions since the Winter Session began on November 16.The bill, which was moved in Upper House earlier this month by Social Justice Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot, also gives effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and related matters. It provides for imprisonment of at least six months up to two years, along with a fine ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons. It’s hoped that the bill will help counter the challenges faced by the disabled community in India. While the earlier iteration of the bill (1995) only recognised 7 disabilities, the new act includes 21 disabilities. The bill also puts a lot of onus on accessibility to other facilities and make India as a nation more disability friendly.Here are some of the important features of the bill:1) Responsibility of government to take effect measures to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy same rights as everyone else.2) The definition of disability isn’t kept rigid and is based on an evolving and dynamic concept.3) The 21 disabilities are: Blindness, Low-vision, Leprosy Cured persons, Hearing Impairment (deaf and hard of hearing), Locomotor Disability, Dwarfism, Intellectual Disability, Mental Illness, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Chronic Neurological conditions, Specific Learning Disabilities Multiple Sclerosis, Speech and Language Disability, Thalassemia, Haemophilia, Sickle Cell disease, Multiple Disabilities, Acid Attack victims and Parkinson’s disease.4) Additional benefits have been provided for people with benchmark disabilities and those with high support needs.5) Every child with disability will have right to free education.6) To strengthen PM’s Accessible India Campaign, to ensure accessibility in public buildings in a prescribed time-frame.7) Proposal to increase in reservation from 3% to 4% for students with benchmark disabilities in higher educational institutions.8) Grant of guardianship by District Court which will allow joint decision-making between guardian and person with disabilities. 9) Broad based Central & State Advisory Boards have been proposed to be set up as policy making bodies.10) Proposal to strengthen office of Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities and State Commissioners of Disabilities, which will act as regulatory bodies and Grievance Redressal agencies and monitor implementation of the Act.11) Proposal of a national fund to provide financial support to persons with disabilities.12) Strong penalties for offences against persons with disabilities, with a maximum penalty of Rs 5 lakh and imprisonment of two years.

Shaina NC requests CM for fast track court for physiotherapist’s murder

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After a 24 year old physiotherapist was raped and murdered at her residence in Vile Parle on December 6, social activist and BJP spokesperson Shaina NC on Tuesday requested Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for a fast-track court for the case to bring relief to the traumatised family of the victim and ensure justice is delivered soon.She also led a delegation to the Vile Parle police station on Tuesday and interacted with the senior police inspector and other officers on the progress in the case.The victim’s parents had submitted a complaint to the Vile Parle police on Monday night asking for a probe into how the identity of the victim had become public.Several days after the gruesome crime, the police have failed to nail the culprit. They however claimed to be close to finding the guilty.The police have formed eight teams and questioned as many as 300-400 suspects, but are yet to make a breakthrough in the case.”We are investigating the case from all the angles and have questioned many people to zero in on the culprit,” said senior police inspector Mahadev Nimbalkar.The victim’s family has demanded a speedy probe and justice. Her father said, “It’s been a week now that we have only been getting assurances from the police, but the culprit has not been arrested yet. We are cooperating with the police and going whenever they calling us questioning. We have shared everything with the police, but they still say they do not have any strong evidence against anyone and are clueless.We want speedy justice and the culprit to be punished”.

Sedition, hate speech laws are being revised, says Law Commission chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a move that is likely to trigger intense political debate, the Law Commission is working actively on revising existing laws related to the controversial offences of sedition and hate speech.Law Commission Chairman Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan told DNA, “The biggest job we have right now is revision of criminal law. We are revising chapters related to sedition and hate speech.”The commission is working on providing an exact definition for sedition and hate speech—the laws on which are often misused in the name of nationalism.A source in the commission, on condition of anonymity, said, “We are presently in a dilemma as to what exactly constitutes hate speech and when can a person be booked for sedition. These are no specific guidelines on them. In fact there are contradictory judgments from the Supreme Court on the definition of sedition and hate speech. The commission has realized the problem and has prioritized working on these two laws.”Section 124 (a) of IPC which relates to sedition had come under focus after the JNU row in which three students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University were arrested for allegedly raising anti-national slogans.Section 153 of IPC, dealing with hate speech came to the fore, in 2015 when BJP leader Subramanian Swamy challenged the constitutional validity of the section in the Supreme Court. Swamy approached the apex court after he was booked in a hate speech case for writing a book which allegedly promotes enmity between two communities.Critics of sedition law have even demanding scrapping of the law by calling it a “draconian law”. Over the years, the governments have been accused of abusing the law for targeting people who speak against the government. Earlier this year, even the government had admitted in Parliament that the definition of sedition is “very wide”.Justice Chauhan said the commission received a special reference for consideration of the law on sedition from the government while the reference for consideration of the law on hate speech had come from the apex court.He said that the commission has had several discussions with stakeholders to discuss problems related the two laws. Sources said that the commission recently had a high-level meeting with officials of the Bureau of police research and development in this regard.In November, the commission organised a conference on the two laws in which many judges—both retired and sitting, senior lawyers, and academicians participated. Some of the attendees of the conference were Justice Multa Gupta, former chairman of law commission Justice AP Shah, senior advocates Indira Jaising and Pinky Anand.Justice Chauhan said that many stakeholders have sent written suggestions to the commission on revising these two laws, adding that commission is examining those suggestions and will soon come out with a report on revising the two laws.It is worth pointing out that in May 2014, Justice Chauhan, then judge at Supreme Court, had himself sent a referral to the then Law Commission to define the expression of “hate speech” and make recommendations to Parliament to strengthen the Election Commission to curb the menace of “hate speeches”.However, nothing much happened in this regard and things started moving forward only after Justice Chauhan himself took over the charge of Commission in March, this year.According to the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2015 alone, 424 cases were registered and 888 people were arrested under sections of 153 IPC. If the government and Parliament decide to go by the Law Commission’s revised version of these laws, the misuse of these laws would certainly come down.

FCRA licence of Teesta Setalvad’s NGO renewed by Home Ministry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The FCRA licence of an NGO run by activist Teesta Setalvad has been renewed by the government notwithstanding restrictions imposed on it in receiving foreign donations.The registration of Citizen for Justice and Peace (CJP), run by Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, has been renewed, a Home Ministry official said. The renewal of FCRA registration of the CJP done despite it being under the prior permission category. Those NGOs, which are under prior permission category, have to take permission from the government before receiving foreign donations.CJP was under the scanner of Home Ministry for alleged misuse of grants to survivors of 2002 Gujarat riots following which it was put under the prior permission category by Home Ministry in July last year.Teesta is secretary of CJP and her two other NGOs Sabrang Trust and Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt Ltd are already under investigations by the CBI and Gujarat police. While Sabrang Trust’s FCRA licence was cancelled by the Home Ministry in June this year, Sabrang Communication is facing a CBI probe for receiving and allegedly misutilising the funds from Ford Foundation.Setalvad had denied all allegations while the Home Ministry has been maintaining that they had inspected the accounts of the CJP following a request from the Gujarat government last year.Interestingly, four Home Ministry officials, including a Joint Secretary, were suspended in August after renewal of an NGO run by controversial preacher Zakir Naik. Later, the FCRA licence of Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation was cancelled by the Home Ministry for alleged violation of FCRA.

Ratan Tata-Cyrus Mistry battle: Why TCS shareholders vote today is crucial

Mumbai – Shareholders of the Tata group’s crown jewel TCS will today vote on a resolution to remove Cyrus Mistry as the company’s director — a crucial test for both Ratan Tata and the ousted Tata Sons chairman in their ongoing board room war.

The result would influence the fate of Mistry, who was on Monday removed as director and Chairman of Tata Industries following shareholders’ vote, first such instance of the embattled executive being ousted from the board since his removal as Tata Group chairman in October.

Ratan Tata (left) and Cyrus Mistry. AFPRatan Tata (left) and Cyrus Mistry. AFP

Ratan Tata (left) and Cyrus Mistry. AFP

On 17 November, TCS board decided to call Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) “pursuant to the Special Notice & Requisition dated November 9, 2016 sent by Tata Sons, shareholder of the company holding 73.26 per cent of the paid-up equity share capital of the company”.

Tuesday’s voting by TCS shareholders will be the first of six such EGMs called by major listed firms — Indian Hotels Co Ltd (December 20), Tata Steel (December 21), Tata Motors (December 22), Tata Chemicals (December 23) and Tata Power (December 26) — to seek Mistry’s ouster as director.

In case of Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals, the shareholders will also be voting for a resolution moved by Tata Sons to remove Nusli Wadia as independent director.

While institutional investors are gearing up for the big showdown in the Tata boardrooms, advisory firms and governance experts are taking considered views on emerging scenario.

JN Gupta, founder of SES, a proxy advisory firm, has told The Economic Times that a divided board is not strong and certainly a threat to shareholders’ interest. “Are the board members ensuring justice for an individual or protecting the interest of stakeholders?” he has been quoted as saying in a report.

To be sure, a quick resolution to the issue is in the interest of the shareholders.

Tata Sons seeks to pass a shareholder resolution for removal of Mistry as director after removing him as Chairman on 10 November, replacing him with Ishaat Hussain.

It had made use of one of the statutes that makes it possible to nominate the chairman of the board, while replacing Mistry with group veteran Hussain.

The Mistry camp had lashed out at his removal as Chairman of TCS calling it as a reflection of “cloak and dagger” machinations that define “the angry strategy of the Ratan Tata camp”.

He had even alleged that Tata once tried to sell the IT firm to IBM and his “ego” led to bad business decisions like Corus acquisition at double the original cost. However, he changed his stance later stating his statement was based on “information from sources who were close to JRD Tata who informed him that it was Ratan Tata’s intention, and not the group’s intention, to sell TCS”.

Tata Sons has been stepping up the pressure on Mistry ever since he was sacked as Chairman of the company on October 24. It had made several allegations against Mistry, including betraying trust and trying to gain control of major operating firms, concentrating powers and using free-hand given to him to weaken management structures of the Tata Group.

Last week, in a letter to shareholders of the companies, Tata stated that the continued presence of Mistry in their respective boards was a serious “disruptive influence” and could make the companies “dysfunctional”.

Market observers said the voting pattern of the non-promoter group will give an indication of the level of support Mistry enjoys from shareholders in general, which in turn could set the tone for other such EGMs that are to follow.

Mistry has vehemently denied all the allegations and stated that he was pushed to the position of a “lame duck chairman” and changes in the decision making process created “alternate power centres” in Tata Group.

In a dig at Tata, he also alleged that individuals prone to “impulsive control” have exposed the Tata Group to perilous violation of regulatory requirements and his fight was to protect the conglomerate from “capricious” decision-making by Interim Chairman Ratan Tata.

With PTI

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 08:04 IST

The drug mayhem: Is Mumbai next?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The film Udta Punjab, which received mixed reactions, exposed the extent of drug abuse in Punjab. According to research conducted by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCB) in 2014, there were 14,274 cases reported in Mumbai, as compared to 14,483 cases in Punjab. There are more than 500 de-addiction centres in India nursing users back to health is one thing, but speak to a few others and they will tell you how deep this problem is and why it may never go away.Afiz* is 28-years old and works in a call centre in Mumbai. He gave up studying in class 11 and was introduced to drugs by a group of girls at a party. “At 16, I was introduced to weed, soon I explored chemical drugs and began to score for myself. Having done ganja, cocaine and acid (LSD), charas (cannabis) is my favourite and I do it every day.”Drug addiction is not gender relative. Jane* is an 18-year-old, who in school was introduced to chemical drugs, says, “I was 14 then and peddlers were easily available. I do meth (Methamphetamine) regularly. It’s in a crystal form and one has to crush it into a powder and snort it. I have never regretted doing drugs and hope to never visit a de-addiction centre,” she says.Just as one cannot do business without understanding its network, Ashok*, a 24-year-old former drug peddler, claims to have a thorough understanding of the peddling network in Mumbai. Having started with chemical drugs at the age of 13, he has tried most of the varieties. “I have done LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide), Hash (MD5), OMG (a form of weed), MCAT (meow-meow), crystal meth, opium, and charas. I peddled for a few years where I would buy maal (meth and charas) for Rs 7,000 a tola (ten grams) and sell it for over Rs 25,000 in one day. My customers ranged from young teenagers to married men of 50 and 60 years. Today every age group is hooked.”Describing it as the perfect business until he was caught, he adds, “Five years ago no one knew what meth was, and a few of us were selling it. At the time people were jealous of the money I made and alerted the police. I was thrashed for three days and paid two and a half lakhs to get out.”The drug routeColleges and bars where the young hang out are vantage point for peddlers, who find Mumbai’s youth a vulnerable and easy target. Groups of users we spoke to told us that each drug is treated and smuggled differently.Meth is sourced from Gujarat and charas from Manali and Kashmir. A minimum of three middlemen are involved before the drug is passed on to small peddlers. “You can get these drugs everywhere, from street children to selected paan shops, one just needs to have a contact number. Call and fix up a meeting place for exchange,” says Ashok, holding out a black substance in his palm. “This is some of the best charas you will get around here,” he says confidently, to a largely startled group that wasn’t expecting any ‘substance’ during the interview. The education continues. “If it smells sweet and fresh, then it’s a good buy. There are college students peddling for the extra money, but fail to choose their stuff (drugs) wisely, nevertheless it gets sold.”Drug abuse in MaharashtraThough an earnest attempt has been made to curtail peddling in the city, the numbers are not very impressive. Mumbai Police along with the Anti-Narcotics Cell have caught 191 persons in the possession of illegal drugs, 159 cases have been registered and 13,297 persons have been caught consuming these drugs in Maharastra in 2016. Also, records with the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment show 43,180 persons have checked in for de-addiction treatment in Maharashtra since 2007. “Drug addiction is definitely rising,”’ says Yusuf Merchant, one of India’s leading anti-drug crusaders who has been in the field for over two decades. This year, he says, 700 teenagers enrolled for de-addiction at his centre. “Hooked on to new party drugs such as MCAT also known as “meow-meow” along with many others, 90% of my patients are from the age group of 16-21 years,” he says.Fr Joseph H. Pereira, founder of Kripa, a well-known de-addiction centre in Maharashtra, with branches in other parts of India as well, expresses discontent with the success rate of de-addiction. “We used to have a success rate of 60%, however owing to different forms of drugs today, a patient is unable to resist, and gets hooked to alcoholism or cannabis known as soft drugs.” Our society is not ready to deal with the reality of drug abuse, says Dr. Merchant. A drug addict is looked at as a criminal rather than a patient who is in need of treatment. There is a stigma attached to seeking help for de-addiction. Today one does not need to be a smoker, he can just snort the drug, he says. “But whatever method one chooses, the disconnect with the family and influence from peers are the prime reasons of why a person becomes an addict,” he adds. Failed by our disciplinary systemsIn the deep suburbs of Mumbai is Deepak*, a student from Mira Road who earlier used drugs and then peddled for a while. He talks about the unholy nexus between the police and peddlers. “When a peddler is caught, the police are aware of how the business is doing, accordingly they take their cut,” he says. Another tactic employed is to round up the users and extort money from them rather than from the peddlers. A user recounts the time when he was caught doing weed and was caught by the cops. “The peddler was right there with us, but I was the only one arrested. He demanded Rs 5,000 from me. I didn’t have it on me, but had to call my friend to release me on this bail.” The next morning, the same cop and the peddler who sold it to me were seen hanging out together,’’ he adds. Authorities point out that this is very common, and attacking the symptom rather than the malaise itself will make little headway in correcting the problem.Not all is lostDe-addiction centres now say that the chances of relapse have moved as high as 60%. For the few who have managed to stay in the 40 %, it is like walking on thin ice. “When I look at life, I consider myself fortunate to be given a second chance,” says 23-year-old Mahesh*. He was addicted to chemical drugs at the age of 18 and spent seven months in a de-addiction centre. Today, he is a writer and director with prominent shows like Savdhan India, Crime Patrol and Gumrah. “Although my experience with drugs has helped me write better and bring out true characters, I would not wish it for anybody.” Having been off drugs, he is one of the many examples of a success story as to what may seem like an indefinite problem. Looking aheadThe problem is not the lack of recreational spaces, but the misuse of these very spaces for illegal activities. Fr Joe says that religion as a whole has failed to impart moral values among youth and there is a need for the right kind of awareness. While numerous organizations engage in the awareness of drug abuse, just this won’t suffice. “After a person is made aware of drugs and addiction, instead of resisting it, s/he may be tempted to try it out. I have put together a group of ‘stars’, the ones free from alcohol and drugs for a period of one year and over, from well-lived sober lives. We ask them to testify and be examples while conducting any kind of awareness program,” he says. This not only makes a person aware of drug abuse as a problem but works as an example of how not to get it wrong. *Names changed on request of anonymity

100 million for 100 million: Nobel Laureates, leaders launch child rights campaign

In passing amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, earlier this year, India’s political class failed the children of the country. To put it mildly, this was a devastating move. Instead of banning child labour in its entirety, the new law allowed for children to work in family enterprises and reduced the list of banned jobs for children from 83 to just three.

Now, it is legal for a child to work in a brick kiln, a blast furnace, or a garment factory provided the owner is able to convince the authorities that he or she is related to the child. With India’s wide and lose kinship structures, anybody can easily be proved to be related to anybody. This has opened a backdoor for children to be forced to join the workforce.

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Each morning, 168 million child labourers struggle in the harshest of conditions instead of learning in school. Of them, 5.5 million are child slaves. Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi had his sight fixed on eradicating child labour and hasn’t been dismayed by how non-conducive the state of affairs in the country are. His struggle bears testimony to the fact that there is no time and no need for cynicism because a lot of lives are in need of urgent help.

While the government essentially negated Satyarthi’s 36-years of hard work, in which he rescued more than 84,000 children, the 2014 Nobel Peace Laureate decided to build a singular moral voice that speaks for humanity, not with political agenda or for economic gain, but a voice that cuts through wry debates and blame-games; a voice for those who need it the most. Child slavery is a modern reality. In India, 41 percent of the population is below the age of 18 but as Satyarthi puts it, if we don’t invest in them we cannot consider them a dividend.

On Sunday, the ‘100 million for 100 million’ campaign was flagged off by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan’s forecourt, amid the presence of laureates and leaders from across the world and hundreds of children. The campaign will call upon 100 million young people to learn about their own rights and the lives of other children, who live in unimaginable situations caused by conflict, exploitation and extreme poverty to build a child-friendly world.

Satyarthi’s foundation plans major campaigns and outreach events in 10 countries, covering every continent. By 2019, the campaign will operate in over 60 countries worldwide and would have secured 40 million supporters. The campaign’s success will be measured by a change in public opinion on issues of child labour, exploitation and child refugees, the number of young people taking action on behalf of the other young people around the world and over the longer term, the policy and practice change and improved outcomes, such as the global reduction in the number of child labourers.

“We need both a top-down policy approach and a bottom-up social initiative,” said Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). He added that all the evidence needs to be collected and combined in a way that it assists policy makers. “We need to speak louder and jump higher,” he exclaimed.

“Child rights cannot be tackled in isolation. Unless we deal with large-scale problems like poverty, social injustice and terrorism, we cannot uproot this social evil. Even the best policies are not implemented on-ground because there is massive corruption,” noted Tawakkol Karman, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate from Yemen. She suggested that since the summit was launched in India, the country should become the headquarters of the international alliance for protecting kids’ rights.

In conversation with the children, Leymah Roberta Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, said, “The number of displaced people are growing and we don’t have time. We need to identify efforts people are making in different pockets of the world and seek global solutions.” The solution, the dignitaries established, is going local and identifying complex realities on-ground and then developing solutions that are global; unless people learn from each other, the world won’t change for the better. As Lorena Castillo, the First Lady of Panama put it, “let’s pledge to make a world child-labour free. We will use our voices to amplify voices of millions.”

What happened in the momentous confines of the Rashtrapati Bhavan was historic and unprecedented. In the Indian capital, the first chapter of the Laureates & Leaders for Children Summit gave the world the message that a child’s arms cannot be stretched to the left and to the right. Children cannot suffer at the hands of ego-driven ideology clashes and lethargic policies. India’s political leaders, with the exception of Piyush Goyal Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, didn’t address the summit. Among other things, the world leaders concluded that we need greater political awareness and that the moral deficit is nowhere but inside our willingness.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 18:13 IST

Maratha reservation: Can Devendra Fadnavis maintain his hard stance on Atrocities Act?

The Maratha rallies, demanding reservations for the community, which literally swamped each and every town and city with unprecedented attendance without a slogan being shouted and without an untoward incident so far, is yet to storm Mumbai. Though promised and planned, it has been on hold because of demonetisation.

The rally is now scheduled for Tuesday in Mumbai.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTIMaharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

However, the issue was taken to the state legislature by elected representatives in its winter session of the state Assembly at Nagpur to hear assurances from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis that the community would get its due, and that the issue would be tackled efficiently at every level. On one demand, however, he held firm: no dilution of the Atrocities Act.

This as unambiguous a stance as it was in October when he had ruled out its abolition. This time, he also ruled out any dilution either. The Act, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, is an enactment of the Parliament, and if Maharashtra were to seek any softening of provisions, it is unlikely to be agreed to by the rest of the country.

The Act of 1989 had been amended, but only to strengthen it, and came into force only recently. The Centre had communicated to all states that complaints and allegation of atrocities “despite provisions of an enabling Act” was a “matter of concern”. The strengthening of the Act by a bill of 2014 was to make provisions “more effective”. New crimes were added which leaves Fadnavis no room to plead with the Centre.

Known popularly as the Atrocities Act, the Maratha community has been insisting, that the Dalits use it to harass them, including by threatening its use. He appears to have taken a middle course by assuring that in consultation with all parties, he would set up a committee of legislators to find ways to ensure that the Act was not misused. He has referred to the fears of the SCs and STs about the consequences of tinkering with the Act.

Also Read: Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis woos Marathas, promises them reservation, hostels

Ramdas Athavale, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, himself a Dalit leader, had spoken of a “relook” around the same time. If the state government succeeds in pointing out “some shortcomings (in the Act) which need a re-look (at) to stop its misuse, it can be considered by the Centre”. Ramdas too had underscored the “unanimity” of the opinion that the Act should remain and serve its stated objective to protect the rights of Dalits and tribals”.

It can be now clearly understood that Maharashtra may not seek any softening, but it is quite likely that the committee Fadnavis is intending to set up would necessarily take a while before it comes up with the ways to ensure that the Act was not misused. In the meanwhile, because the Opposition walked out, implying that the political pot on the issue of Maratha reservations and other demands would be kept simmering.

Fadnavis did concede that between 1,400 t0 2,000 cases using the Atrocities Act are filed in Maharashtra but compared to other states, they were on the lower side. On the other hand, there have been other voices with differing views, which pointed to the decline in the number of cases registered, from 4,756 in 2010 to 2,206 in 2014, and till August 2016, 1,554 cases were filed. If they were barely used, how could anyone say they were used? A top official who heads a cell collating date on crimes against SCs and STs had told The Wire, “We can’t say if misuse of the Act exists or no.”

Though the Dalit leaders have often said that unless in the gravest of cases, the machinery avoids even registering cases, leave alone investigate and bring to book alleged perpetrators of such crimes despite complaints taken to police stations. Obviously, statistics are one thing, and a perception is another. Fadnavis has tried to keep both sides calms, but the issue is not going to be so easily settled unless the reservations are announced for the Marathas.

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 21:44 IST

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.

Committed to provide reservation to Maratha community: CM Devendra Fadnavis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Blaming the previous Congress and NCP led governments for failing to protect the interests of the Marathas, Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a slew of measures aimed at placating the community, which along with the Kunbis is estimated to form around a third of Maharashtra’s population. He was speaking in the state legislative assembly on Friday. The Marathas have organised a series of silent protests across Maharashtra for demands like quotas, amendments to the Atrocity Act to prevent its misuse and death sentence for the youth who raped a girl from the community. Fadnavis questioned former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for the decision to grant quotas (for Marathas and Muslims) only after the Congress-NCP lost 42 of Maharashtra’s 48 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. “While taking such an important decision, a special session should have been convened and a law must have been framed… An ordinance can enforce the law but the court gives more importance to a law,” he said, referring to the high court striking down the quota decision. The BJP-led government will also present a strong case in the apex court to press for Maratha reservations. Fadnavis also praised the silent marches being organised by the Maratha community and added that the state would seek the death sentence for the accused in the Kopardi rape case, which had triggered the protests. Pointing fingers at the erstwhile Congress and NCP governments for neglecting the Marathas, Fadnavis said the community was removed outside the quota ambit in 1965 without sound reasoning. The state had also not contested the contention of the Mandal Commission which had ruled against classifying Marathas as ‘other backwards’. “I do not want to blame anyone. It is a question of giving justice to the community,” said Fadnavis. He pointing that while some were trying to give the issue a political twist, it was the opposition which was in power when these developments took place. He also raised questions on the erstwhile Congress- NCP government’s move to include Dalit intellectual and author Raosaheb Kasbe in the backward classes commission just two months before it submitted a report ruling against classifying Marathas as backwards. Kasbe had opposed the demand in the commission. “I am not making an allegation against the government but an inquiry is needed into the design,” said Fadnavis, adding that the Congress-NCP had also failed to present before the court, the evidence gathered by the committee under then minister Narayan Rane. Fadnavis pointed to the scheme launched by the government which will provide financial aid to students studying for professional courses. Noting that Maharashtra had just 6,000 seats in government engineering and polytechnic colleges, he said that the number was as high as 1.5 lakh in the private sector. Hence, even if 15% quotas were provided to Marathas, they would account for just 900 seats, far less than the demand. “I will not go into whom these educational institutions belong to, whether they take donations and why the fees are steep,” said Fadnavis, in a reference to education barons from the Congress and NCP, adding that the state had dragged its feet on a fee regulatory authority for 15 years. The state has also announced a scheme in the name of ‘Bhausaheb’ Punjabrao Deshmukh to provide Rs 30,000 annually for Maratha students to finance their stay in large cities for education, and an amount of Rs 20,000 would be paid in smaller towns. “Hostels will be made available for the stay of youth in all districts. We are ready to help out organisations with funds and aid,” he declared. He noted that since one of the reasons behind Maratha backwardness was the condition of agriculture, it was necessary to mechanise it and boost productivity and investment. The state will also collect information about the misuse of the Atrocity act, Fadnavis said.

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