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Will file PIL in SC on decision to exempt parties from tax on old notes: Kanhaiya Kumar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar has criticised the Central government’s decision to exempt political parties from income tax on old notes deposited by them in banks, saying that a PIL will be filed in this regard in Supreme Court.An online petition has been circulated for signatures of people opposing the government decision and soon a PIL will be filed at Supreme Court after due consultation with lawyers, Kanhaiya said. “We are contacting lawyers and we are going to file a PIL for revoking the exemption from IT scrutiny to political parties for deposits in old notes in the face of demonetization. We have already started taking signatures on an online petition regarding this,” he said.The Central government yesterday said political parties depositing old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in their accounts will be exempt from income tax. Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said that deposits in bank accounts of political parties are not to be taxed. “If it is a deposit in the account of a political party, they are exempt. But if it is deposited in an individual’s account then that information will come into our radar. If the individual is putting money in his own account, then we will get information,” he said.The online petition addressed to the Chief Justice of India opposed this move as “patently unfair” to the citizenry of the country. “Given the extraordinary nature of this measure (demonetization) which has affected every citizen and business’s financial autonomy and brought their records under scrutiny; the exemption granted to political parties from any scrutiny from income tax authorities whatsoever in this regard, seems patently unfair to the citizenry,” the petition read.

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.

Curb rising drugs, alcohol abuse in children: SC to Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to put in place within six months a national action plan to curb the rising drugs and alcohol abuse cases among school children, observing they are encouraged to become “drug peddlers once they get addicted”.A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and D Y Chandrachud also asked the Centre to conduct a national survey on the substance and alcohol abuse and use of psychotropic substances among children in schools across the country.Issuing a slew of directions, the bench observed “Children are encouraged to become drug peddlers once they are addicted (to drugs).”The bench also favoured a re-look on the curriculum to make school children aware about substance abuse and its ill-effects.The directions were passed on a 2014 PIL filed by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan of Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi.The NGO, in its plea, had sought a direction to formulate a national action plan for children on drugs and substance abuse including all issues of identification, investigation, recovery, counselling and rehabilitation.It had also sought creation of model syllabus on ill- effects of drugs and substance abuse.The NGO, represented by senior advocate H S Phoolka, had sought setting up of rehabilitation and de-addiction centres in each district of the country with a special wing for children.

SC to hear plea against CBI interim boss Rakesh Asthana’s appointment on Dec 9

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear on December 9 a plea challenging the appointment of Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as the interim director of CBI.”Okay. It will come up on Friday,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao said after advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, mentioned the plea. The petition, filed by the NGO, alleged that the Centre took a series of steps in a “completely mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Asthana was given the charge of CBI director”.It has claimed that the government did not convene a meeting of the selection committee comprising the prime minister, the leader of the largest opposition party and the Chief Justice of India, even though it was fully aware that Anil Sinha was going to demit the office of CBI director on December 2.
ALSO READ PIL against government’s decision to appoint Gujarat cadre IPS as interim chief of CBIAsthana, an IPS officer of 1984-batch, was elevated as the Additional Director in the agency on December 2 when CBI Special Director R K Dutta, who was reportedly among the frontrunners for the top post, was shifted to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as a Special Secretary.The PIL claimed that the government had “prematurely curtailed” the tenure and transferred Dutta to MHA on November 30 — just two days before Sinha was slated to demit office.
ALSO READ Rakesh Asthana to be interim chief of CBI

Delhi HC refuses to hear PIL challenging military service pay for jawans

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined to entertain a PIL challenging grant of lesser military service pay (MSP) to personnel below officer rank (PBOR), like jawans and alleged discrimination against them, saying the appropriate forum is the Armed Forces Tribunal.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“We are not inclined to entertain the PIL. Dismissed,” a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said while noting that “alternative remedy is available under the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT)”.

The order came after the Centre contended before the bench that the appropriate forum was the AFT.

The PIL, by an NGO, had alleged that there was a trend in the defence forces of “sidelining” the PBORs who, according to the petition, comprise 97 percent of the three armed forces.

The NGO Voice of Ex-Serviceman had claimed that all service-related benefits, including monetary, “are hijacked by the officer lobby”.

The petition had opposed the grant of MSP in Seventh Pay Commission to military nursing service (MNS) contending that they are non-combatants.

It had contended that MSP should be paid only to combatants and equally without considering the rank.

As per the petition, under the Seventh Pay Commission while PBORs will get an MSP of Rs 5,200, those in the nursing service and officers would get MSP of Rs 10,800 and Rs 15,500, respectively.

It had contended that despite the jawans facing more hardship, they are given the lowest MSP.

The NGO had also raised the grievance of the PBORs being compulsorily retired before attaining the age of 60 years in the name of keeping the force young.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 15:23 IST

PIL against government’s decision to appoint Gujarat cadre IPS as interim chief of CBI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Public-Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday seeking quashing of government’s decision of appointing Rakesh Asthana, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, as the interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation. The PIL also seeks appointment of a Court-selected person as the interim Director of CBI as well as a meeting of the selection committee, which consists of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the largest Opposition party and the Chief Justice of India, to appoint a regular director of the probe agency. The PIL states that 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 of CBI Director and “prematurely curtailed the tenure of and transferred Mr. R K Dutta,Special Director, CBI, to the Ministry of Home Affairs”.The PIL has been filed by Kamal Kant Jaswal, the president of Delhi based Common Cause through his counsel Prashant Bhushan. The PIL cited landmark judgment in Vineet Narain case in which the court had directed that there should be a selection committee to identify a panel of names for the appointment of Director CBI, and thereafter the final selection to be made by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC).The PIL also cited that the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, , which governs the CBI, was amended in 2003 vide the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act, 2003 to state that the Director CBI shall be appointed by the Central Government on the recommendations of the Central Vigilance Commissioner, the Vigilance Commissioners and two Secretaries to the Government of India.”As the above mechanism was not found sufficient to insulate the CBI Director, Section 4A of the DSPE Act, 1946 was further amended vide the Lokpal andLokayuktas Act, 2013 (the Lokpal Act) to provide that the CBI Director shall be appointed by the Central Government on there commendations of the selection committee,” the PIL read.Th petitioner has claimed that the Central Government did not convene a meeting of the selection committee ” even though it was fully aware that Mr. Anil Sinha was going to demit the office of CBI Director on 02.12.2016″. The central government had last week made Asthana, a Gujarat cadre 1984 batch IPS officer, the interim director as the current chief probe agency Anil Sinha relinquished his charge. The decision came two days after CBI Special Director R K Dutta, who was among the frontrunners for the top post, was shifted to the Home Ministry as a Special Secretary leaving the agency without a director for the first time in 10 years. Asthana,who was serving as the additional director of the probe agency had previously headed the state SIT that probed burning of Sabarmati Express train at Godhra in February 2002. The SIT had then found that the burning of a coach of Sabarmati Express, which claimed lives of 59 people, was a “carefully planned and meticulously executed criminal conspiracy”. The 1984 batch officer has also supervised the fodder scam probe allegedly involving then chief minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Bombay HC seeks reply from Finance Ministry, RBI on deadline for exchanging old notes

Nagpur: The Bombay High Court has sought response from the Finance Ministry and Reserve Bank of India on a PIL seeking extension of deadline for exchanging the demonetised notes.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

A division bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Vinay Deshpande issued the notices yesterday while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), and posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks.

The petitioner, Urmila Wasudeo Kowe, said in her PIL that there should be more time to exchange old high denomination notes. The earlier deadline of November 24 to change the now defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has expired and many in rural areas and those from working class, could not change their hard earned money. For such segment, the time limit should be extended.

The Central government demonetised the old high currency notes with effect from 8 November midnight and granted time till 24 November to exchange old notes.

The labour, working class and migrant workers also have old notes and they are unable to deposit the same as many of them do not have bank accounts. It is not possible for them to reach to RBI and such persons should be allowed to exchange old notes from nationalised banks, the PIL said, while seeking such a direction to the RBI and the Centre.

Advocate Ashwin Ingole appeared for the petitioner.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 14:26 IST

Panama papers PIL: SC seeks Centre’s response on SEBI being made party

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought a response on the plea of market regulator SEBI that it has been dragged as a party in a PIL seeking a court-monitored CBI probe against Indians whose names have figured in Panama papers for allegedly holding bank accounts in foreign countries.

“We will require the petitioner to file an affidavit within four weeks showing as to how SEBI is connected with the present PIL,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy said.

Representational image. Getty Images.

Representational image. Getty Images.

The direction came when senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for SEBI, alleged that the market regulator has no role whatsoever in the the Panama paper leak case and it has been dragged in the list without any reason.

Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, sought dismissal of the PIL, filed by lawyer M L Sharma in his personal capacity, saying a Multi-Agency Group (MAG), comprising officials of CBDT, RBI, Financial Intelligence Unit and ED, has already been set up to ensure “speedy and coordinated” probe against Indians whose names have figured in Panama papers.

Moreover, as many as five reports have been submitted by MAG to the apex court-appointed Special Investigation Team on black money which is led by Justice (retd) M B Shah, he said, adding that MAG, in turn, has submitted those reports in sealed cover to a Supreme Court bench hearing black money case.

The Centre had on 3 October informed the court that a whopping Rs 8,186 crore, illegally kept in offshore banks by Indians, has been brought under the tax ambit despite constraints like non-sharing of information by Swiss authorities.

The Department of Economic Affairs of the Finance Ministry, in an affidavit, had said “an undisclosed income of Rs 8,186 crore (including protective assessment of Rs 1,485 crore) has been brought to tax, on account of deposits made in unreported foreign bank accounts”.

The ASG today told the apex court that the Centre is “bent upon to find out the truth and take appropriate action” in the Panama paper leak case and hence the plea be dismissed.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 21:21 IST

Demonetization | What is the centre doing for common man? Calcutta HC seeks response

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On a day the Supreme Court of India expressed concern that there could be riots following demonetization, the Calcutta High Court sought a response from the Centre by November 25 on the move. The Centre faced tough questions from both the apex court as well as the Calcutta High Court on Friday.While the Supreme Court said long queues outside banks was a serious issue, the Calcutta High Court said it cannot change the government policy, but there was a lot lacking in the implementation of the move. Hearing a PIL filed by an advocate, Ramaprasad Sarkar, the High Court said, “The Centre is asking people to open bank accounts and deposit the money. Do you even know how much harassment a person has to face while opening a bank account? A person’s income which does not fall under the taxable bracket is facing trouble. What is the Centre doing for the common man?” asked the court.This apart, the court asked the Centre to ensure that private hospitals accept the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes to prevent ailing persons from facing any kind of trouble following the demonetization. The High Court has asked the Centre to respond and submit a report on the demonetization of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency notes.Earlier on Friday, the Supreme Court refused to stop high courts from entertaining petitions challenging the Centre’s demonetisation notification. “Some measures are required. See the kind of problems people are facing. People have to go to the high court. If we shut them from going to the high court, how can we know the magnitude of the problem. People going to different courts indicates the magnitude of the problem,” the bench said.

Sex determination tests case: SC directs Centre to constitute a nodal agency

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to constitute a nodal agency to keep a tab on keywords used on search engines to enable a system of ‘auto-block’ that would black out information on sex determination online in India.”If it’s found that there are certain words which facilitated sex determination, then those words should be deleted in 36 hours,” the apex court told the Centre.The next hearing is scheduled on January 17, 2017.The Supreme Court on September 19 heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in which Google, Yahoo and other search engines have been made a party for allegedly putting up advertisements selling pre-natal sex determination kits.The apex court in July had concluded that the companies’ search engines violated the laws by hosting advertisements for tools, kits and clinics that help determine the sex of a foetus.The government had held consultative meeting with the companies to reach a solution.The PIL was filed by Sabu Mathew George, who sought the court’s intervention to get the government to crack down on advertisement of sex-determination kits, tools and clinics on websites.George has alleged that sex-determination ads and links were freely available on the search engines, defeating the purpose of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, enacted in 1994 to stop female foeticides and check the declining sex ratio in India.Prenatal sex determination was made illegal in India in 1994 to prevent sex-selective abortions.

Supreme Court to hear petitions challenging demonetization today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear several petitions challenging the government’s decision to scrap Rs.500 and Rs.1000 currency notes. Four Public Interest Litigations (PILs) have been filed against the controversial scheme, which has caused massive upheavals across the nation. The PILs were filed in the apex court questioning the government’s rationale and modus operandi behind the implementation of the drive, as it has reportedly caused inconvenience to the general public.A PIL was filed in the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad by advocate Pusala Venkata Krishnaiah, who alleged that a sufficient time frame had not been given for the transition and it would create unprecedented chaos and panic among the people. The PIL filed challenges the provision that is Sub-Section 2 of Section 26 of Reserve Bank of India 1934 Act claiming that there are no guidelines how to exercise the power available under the section. The petitioner said that time for such a huge change should have been given by the government.Another PIL was filed before the Gujarat High Court which seeks to extend the date of validity for exchanging Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes and also directs private hospitals to accept old currency notes. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday ordered the government to go full ahead with demonetization and ruled out any chance whatsoever of rolling back the scheme.According to sources, the Prime Minister who was chairing the BJP Parliamentary Party executive meeting, told attendees to not buckle under the opposition?s pressure and go ahead with the Centre’s policy. Stating that the opposition was hard at work to sabotage the process of demonetization, the Prime Minister assured that the nation has welcomed the step.The Prime Minister’s assertion comes in the wake of the all-out attack launched by the opposition today, as the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) joined forces in tearing down the scheme of demonetization.

Ban on Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes: Centre files caveat, SC may hear plea on 15 November

New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday filed a caveat in the Supreme Court that it be heard if the court entertains any petition on demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes even as the apex court indicated that it may hear on 15 November a plea challenging the government decision.

“Let it be listed on Tuesday if the petition gets numbered by the registry,” a three-judge bench headed by Justice AR Dave said when a lawyer on Thursday sought urgent hearing of his plea on the ground that demonetisation is causing a lot of problem to the common citizens.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Modi government filed a caveat in the apex court registry saying that it be heard if the court entertains and passes some directions on the petitions.

The plea was mentioned by advocate Sangam Lal Pandey who has filed the PIL in his personal capacity.

He has sought quashing of the 8 November notification of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) of Finance Ministry on the grounds that the common public has not been granted sufficient time and as a result, they are facing a lot of hardship.

The PIL has also sought a direction to the Centre that sufficient time be given to the citizens for exchanging the demonetised currency notes.

Besides this petition, another plea was filed on Wednesday in the apex court seeking quashing of the decision to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes on grounds that it infringed on citizens’ right to life and to trade, among others.

The PIL filed by Delhi-based lawyer Vivek Narayan Sharma, which could be listed for hearing during the week, has termed the notification of DEA as “dictatorial” claiming it did not grant reasonable time to citizens for exchanging the specified bank notes to legitimate notes to avoid “large-scale mayhem, life threating difficulties”.

The plea has sought either quashing of the notification or a direction to the Centre for grant of “reasonable time frame” to citizens for exchanging the demonetised currency notes to avoid difficulties.

The Prime Minister, in a televised address to the nation on 8 November, had declared that high denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 will not be legal tender from 8 November midnight. He had said that the government has declared a “decisive” war against black money and corruption.

Rs 1000, Rs 500 notes banned: SC may hear plea challenging demonetisation on 15 Nov

New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday filed a caveat in the Supreme Court that it be heard if the court entertains any petition on demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes even as the apex court indicated that it may hear on 15 November a plea challenging the government decision.

“Let it be listed on Tuesday if the petition gets numbered by the registry,” a three-judge bench headed by Justice A R Dave said when a lawyer today sought urgent hearing of his plea on the ground that demonetisation is causing a lot of problem to the common citizens.

A customer waits to deposit 1000 Indian rupee banknotes in a cash deposit machine at bank in Mumbai, India. ReutersA customer waits to deposit 1000 Indian rupee banknotes in a cash deposit machine at bank in Mumbai, India. Reuters

A customer waits to deposit 1000 Indian rupee banknotes in a cash deposit machine at bank in Mumbai, India. Reuters

The Modi Government filed a caveat in the apex court registry saying that it be heard if the court entertains and passes some directions on the petitions. The plea was mentioned by advocate Sangam Lal Pandey who has filed the PIL in his personal capacity.

He has sought quashing of the November 8 notification of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) of Finance Ministry on the grounds that the common public has not been granted sufficient time and as a result they are facing a lot of hardship.

The PIL has also sought a direction to the Centre that sufficient time be given to the citizens for exchanging the demonetised currency notes. Besides this petition, another plea was filed yesterday in the apex court seeking quashing of the decision to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes on grounds that it infringed on citizens’ right to life and to trade, among others.

The PIL filed by Delhi-based lawyer Vivek Narayan Sharma, which could be listed for hearing during the week, has termed the notification of DEA as “dictatorial” claiming it did not grant reasonable time to citizens for exchanging the specified bank notes to legitimate notes to avoid “large scale mayhem, life threatening difficulties”.

The plea has sought either quashing of the notification or a direction to the Centre for grant of “reasonable time frame” to citizens for exchanging the demonetised currency notes to avoid difficulties.

The Prime Minister, in a televised address to the nation on November 8, had declared that high denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 will not be legal tender from November 8 midnight. He had said that the Government has declared a “decisive” war against black money and corruption.

Madras HC rejects PIL against Jayalalithaa’s thumb impression on AIADMK poll papers

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Monday dismissed a PIL challenging affixing of thumb impression of ailing Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on nomination papers of AIADMK candidates for the 19 November bypolls, saying it is for Election Commission to verify authenticity of the papers.

Madras High Court. IBNlive

Madras High Court. IBNlive

“In our view, it is for the ECI to verify the authenticity of the papers so far as the assignment of scrutiny is concerned and if there are any infirmities in the election process which makes the election capable of being challenged that is a matter of election petition,” the court ruled.

Noting that the election symbols had already been alloted, the court said it was not inclined to interfere in the matter and dismissed the PIL, filed by social activist Traffic K Ramaswamy.

AIADMK candidates in Aravakurichi, Thanjavur and Thirupparankundram assembly segments had filed Forms A and B, required under the symbols order rules, with the left thumb impression of Jayalalithaa, hospitalised since 22 September last, instead of her signature.

Her thumb impression was attested by a government doctor with a note saying Jayalalithaa had an ‘inflamed right hand’. The petitioner had contended that taking the thumb impression instead of signature was a gross violation of election procedure and sought to declare it as illegal and ultra vires of the Constitution.

When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, the Additional Solicitor General, who appeared on behalf of the EC, produced a 27 October communication addressed to the Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer, specifying the process for attestation of the thumb impression.

In response to a representation by the AIADMK for allowing thumb impression of Jayalalithaa in the forms, the EC had specified medical officer of any government hospital as the officer before whom the thumb impression may be affixed and who may attest such thumb impression.

The ASG further submitted that such an attestation had been done and the nomination papers filed. Recording the submission, the court said the petitioner was not a contesting candidate in the election but seeks to obligate himself such kind of general public scrutiny merely because in various PILs he had been entertained.

Plea in Delhi HC for insurance cover for AIDS/HIV victims

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A PIL seeking inclusion of people afflicted by HIV and AIDS in life and health insurance policies with all consequential benefits led the Delhi High Court on Friday to seek the government’s response on the issue.A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal issued notice to the Ministry of Health, public sector insurance companies and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) seeking their reply by January 17 next year to the PIL, which also alleges discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS (PLHAs). The court tagged the matter with another similar petition listed for hearing on the same date.The petition by Rajeev Sharma alleges that there was no “effective progress and implementation of any insurance policies for the benefit of PLHAs”. He has contended that the Centre had in 2013 said that by April 1, 2014, insurance cover would be available to all PLHAs, but nothing has happened till date.Sharma also said the IRDA had issued an exposure draft in 2012 instructing insurance companies to include PLHAs under medical insurance cover. In October 2013, IRDA had asked all insurance companies “to put in place, by April 1, 2014, Board approved underwriting policy to include all PLHAs with regard to life and health insurance,” the petition stated. It claimed that 100 lives were lost each day to the diseases due to “unaffordable medical care” and alleged that PLHAs were “being neglected and discriminated against” as not even simple accident benefit cover is provided to them.It alleged that various government health schemes for the underprivileged and disadvantaged groups of society “make no mention of coverage to PLHAs”. Sharma has contended in his plea that the task to include PLHAs in insurance schemes was not impossible as one private insurance firm provides them such cover.

DND flyway row: You’ve not built a road to moon, SC tells Noida Toll Firm

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The flyway connecting Delhi and neighbouring Noida will remain toll-free for commuters, with Supreme Court on Friday refusing to stay an Allahabad High Court order restraining Noida Toll Bridge Company Limited from levying the cess, saying it should not claim it has built “a road to the moon”.The apex court, which refused to interfere with the HC order for the time being, said, “let the interim arrangement be there. We will pass some order after Diwali vacation.”A bench, comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said it will decide on the submission of referring the issue of calculation of toll collected, which has been disputed by the company, to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).When senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the toll collecting firm, was repeatedly assailing the High Court order and seeking an interim stay on it, the bench said “you have only ten kms of highway and you claim that you have made a road to the moon. … You have done well but not something (great).”Singhvi said Noida Toll Bridge Company Limited (NTBCL) is a company limited by shares and listed with stock exchanges and abroad including London, and permitting it to collect toll for one or two more months would cause no harm to anyone.”The balance of convenience is in our favour as I have been collecting toll for last 15 years. If tomorrow it is held that I have the right to collect toll then we cannot go on chasing vehicles for the past toll,” he said.To this, the bench asked “if we hold otherwise, then will you chase vehicle owners to return the money collected. … You don’t lose much and it is only in terms of time you may lose, but if you succeed, you will get extra time”.At the outset, the bench said it wanted to know about the expenses incurred and the “permissible return” the firm wished to get back from the Delhi-Noida Direct (DND) flyway.Referring to the terms of contract and accounting details with regard to the flyway, Singhvi said the High Court did not take into account all aspects and submitted that factors like interest on construction cost, depreciation and maintenance expenses, which comes to around Rs 12.5 lakh per day, have not been duly considered.Singhvi said, “I don’t mind any independent auditor of the court’s choice for auditing the accounts and other aspects … we have to maintain the stretch as well. There can be a CAG audit.” He said the firm will be held liable for everything like accidents and maintenance, but the power to collect toll has been taken away by the High Court verdict.During the hearing, the Noida Authority shied away from taking a stand on the issue, with its counsel only saying that all facts were placed before the High Court.”You are not telling your stand. Are you saying that the company has recovered enough and they should be out,” the bench asked.When the counsel said he had no written instruction, the bench shot back saying the authority was not taking the matter seriously. The high court, on October 26, had brought cheers to millions of commuters ruling that no toll will be collected henceforth from those using the 9.2 km-long, eight-lane DND flyway. The order was passed as the high court allowed a PIL by the Federation of Noida Residents’ Welfare Association.The PIL, filed in 2012, had challenged the “levy and collection of toll in the name of user fee” by the NTBCL. In an over 100-page judgement, the high court had held “the user fee which is being levied/realised is not supported by the legal provisions relied upon by the Concessionaire (Noida Toll Bridge Company), Infrastructure Leaning and Financial Services (promoter and developer of the project) and the Noida Authority.”It had said that the “right to levy and collect user fee from the commuters as conferred upon the Concessionaire under the concession agreement suffers from excessive delegation and is contrary to the provisions UP Industrial Development Act”.It had noted that “the Concessionaire, according to their own financial statements, has recovered Rs 810.18 crore (approx) from toll income from the date of commencement of the project till March 31, 2014 and after deduction of operation and maintenance expenses and corporate income tax, the surplus was Rs 578.80 crore (computed before interest, depreciation, and lease rental received by the Concessionaire)”.”They have further realised user fee/toll two-and-a-half years thereafter between April 1, 2014 and September 30, 2016 which, as per the collection of user fee in the year 2013-14 would work out to an additional sum of Rs 300 crore (approx). We are, therefore, more than satisfied that the Concessionaire cannot now recover the user fees from the users /commuters of the Noida Toll Bridge the DND Flyover,” the high court had said.

SC not to restrain govt from using surgical strikes for political gains

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to restrain the government from using the issue of surgical strikes and other actions of armed forces for political gains.In the PIL, filed by Manohar Lal Sharma, a Delhi-based lawyer, sought the apex court’s direction to the government in this regard.A three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of India Tirath Singh Thakur and comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageshwar Rao dismissed Sharma’s PIL on the ground that the petition lacked merit, and thus, was baseless.The India Army conducted surgical strikes along the Line of Control (LoC) on seven Pakistan terror launch pads on the intervening night of September 28-29.India’s Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh announced that Indian Army had carried out multiple surgical strikes in the wake of the infiltration bids by terrorists along the Line of Control (LoC), including at Uri and Poonch earlier this month.Although almost all political parties hailed the surgical strike, they asked the government not to thump its chest on the issue to manipulate voters in the wake of assemblies elections in four states, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

Gujarat HC issues notices on pleas to increase income limit for OBC quota

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the state and central governments on a PIL challenging the recommendation of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) for increasing annual income limit for OBCs from Rs six lakh to Rs 12 lakh to avail quota benefits.

Representational image. CNN-News18

Representational image. CNN-News18

A Division Bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice VM Pancholi also issued notices to NCBC on a petition by one Manibhai Patel who said the Commission’s recommendation to include candidates with family income of Rs 12 lakh in urban areas and Rs 9 lakh in rural areas for availing quotas will affect benficiaries with lower family income.

A candidate with Rs 1 lakh per month family income should not be given the benefit of reservation as this will adversely affect poorer candidates, he contended.

In 2015, NCBC had recommended that the family income limit be raised to Rs 12 lakh for urban and Rs 9 lakh for rural OBC candidates seeking quota benefits in jobs and education.

The NCBC has been revising annual family income slab limit for the creamy layer among OBCs at regular intervals, the PIL said.

In 1993, OCBC candidates with family income limit of up to Rs 1 lakh could avail the quota benefits, which was revised upwards to Rs 2.5 lakh in 2004 and Rs 4.5 lakh in 2008, it said.

In 2006, it was further revised upwards to Rs 6 lakh, it said.

Rs 3 crore spent on Gaikwad committee probing tribal dept scam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra government has spent Rs 3 crore in the last two-and-half years on the administrative expenses of the Justice M G Gaikwad committee, probing an alleged scam in the Tribal Affairs Department during the previous Congress-NCP regime.According to a Government Resolution (GR) issued recently, the committee has been given a last extension of six months and is required to submit its report within the time frame.The panel was instituted to conduct an inquiry into an Rs 6,000 crore scam in the Tribal Affairs Department in the tenure of then NCP leader and Tribal Minister Vijaykumar Gavit who is now a BJP MLA.”We have given an extension for the last time as the committee has already spent two-and-a-half years in probing the alleged scam,” Principal Secretary, Tribal Welfare Department Rajgopal Deora said.When asked about money spent so far by the government on the committee, Deora said, “State government has spent more than Rs 3 crore in the last two-and-half years on the remuneration of the staff of the Commission and office expenses.”The five-member committee was appointed by the government on 15 April, 2014, upon an order of the Bombay High Court on March 27, 2014, during the hearing of a PIL. The committee has its office in Nashik.The PIL had alleged that the Tribal Welfare Department made purchases without calling for tenders and the amounts shown as disbursed towards tribal welfare were actually siphoned off.It was alleged that the money was siphoned in between 2004-09 in the purchase of various items for curbing malnutrition, distribution of milch animals to tribals etc.The GR also made it clear that no further extension will be given to the committee as it has already granted several extensions as and when asked.

Uniform Civil Code: Both govt and AIMPLB should let Supreme Court do its job

It was two months ago that I seriously began to follow the events that unfolded since Shayara Bano’s writ petition in Supreme Court. It was making the most news in mainstream media since March. Until then I thought of it as a cut and dry case.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

I had done this a dozen times over the years, explaining to curious friends that there’s no such thing as triple talaq. This was the narrative I grew up with at home, and reinforced repeatedly while reading age-appropriate religious books, the photocopied and well-devoured Most Common Questions Asked to Muslims, at Islamic discussion forums, and in Qur’an translations and commentaries. I would be almost too pleased to enunciate the process of divorce in Islam, for it seemed perfect to me: Thought out, deliberated, arbitrated, waiting time to understand the finality of the decision (three months), and three opportunities at reconciliation. “It is almost like how the courts of law prescribe it,” I would say.

In a parallel universe, dark and dysfunctional, Shayara Bano suffered at the hands of her husband and in-laws, living in fear of “three words”. Her truth was different from mine.

Multiple tabs have stayed open on browsers on all my gadgets for weeks now; news articles, opinion pieces, research papers, religious annotations… It’s as if closing them would mean that their sound reasoning would be lost with it. Because the world outside the screen doesn’t look much like what I thought it was; Shayara and my worlds are colliding, and I am forced to face her reality.

Why is the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) being stubborn to not ban triple talaq? Surely the muftis, who are approached with absurd instances of unilateral divorce (worse still, via SMS and post) call it out on its erroneous nature. What recourse do bereft Muslim women have against their husbands, and men in the family, for such blatant misappropriation of their rights and dignity? Why is Flavia Agnes on the other side?

Mufti Abdul Rashid was kind enough to not get offended when I tried to push past his resilience towards simplifying the issue for me. Unilateral divorce is inappropriate, even sinful, but valid according most Islamic schools of jurisprudence. Legal Islamic precedents exist to this effect, and just as the Supreme Court judges rely on former judgments (what we call landmark rulings, like the Shah Bano’s), so do the muftis.

The only silver lining I could take back with me was that most muftis do not hide their displeasure when families approach them for a religious ruling on the validity of triple talaq, after it’s pronounced.

They agree with the internationally acclaimed Mufti Ismail Menk, that a couple be made aware of the rules and procedures of divorce when they decide to get married. The inimitable Menk took the opportunity to talk about it at a nikah ceremony once, much to the chagrin of the host family, he confessed.

Apparently, talking about the ‘D’ word at all is considered a taboo, not pronouncing it out loud, ‘three times’, without much thought, some scholars harrumphed.

It was easier to understand the complexities of Islamic rulings than to fathom ‘the’ Flavia Agnes ending on the same side as the “anti-women” Muslim Personal Law Board. Women’s rights lawyer Agnes made it clear that she wasn’t impressed with the PIL. I learn, so is advocate Nilofer Akhtar, who specialises in personal laws. A leading family court lawyer, Akhtar was part of the team that drafted the model nikahnama, and was among those who began the conversation on talaq-e-tafveez (women’s right to divorce) in India. She points out that instant triple talaq already has no standing in the courts. “There are enough landmark judgments, like the Shamim Ara judgment in 2002, where the court held that a Muslim man does not have a unilateral right to divorce his wife by triple talaq and had to provide good reasons for a divorce. The premise for taking the plea to ban it in courts is a misplaced advice.”

Both lawyers feel that the battle is to create awareness against wrong practices, and insist that enough legal recourse is already available for Muslim women victims of talaq in an instant, and other indignities. It was Agnes’ piece (also appeared on Scroll.in enumerating these remedies that earned her the displeasure of the liberals in the first place. It’s easy to understand why. These remedies were take-ways from the AIMPLB’s affidavit to the SC. Well, I think it was a clever move. Making it the Board’s word would have a farther reaching effect among the community, than outreaches by the courts, and especially the current government.

Agnes, Akhtar, PB Sawant, a former SC judge, and many other matrimonial lawyers, are standing on the same side as the archaic and patriarchal AIMPLB, because they see BJP’s push to ban tripe talaq, polygamy and bring in the Uniform Civil Code as politically motivated. Let’s not overlook this either.

Since forever, the majority’s idea of governments has been of two kinds: “One that appeases Muslims” and “one that can reign them in” (whatever this means!). The current government’s act to care for Muslims, has rather scared them a lot.

AIMPLB has begun a signature campaign, asking women of the community if they want Shariah law or UCC governing their matters. In Mumbai, the exercise kick-started on 3 October. While speaking to a member of the AIMPLB, I inquired of their sample size. “We plan to take the signature campaign all over India,” the office bearer said with fervour and that hit me hard. In a rare moment, I held back the urge to snap, and bit down the words I wanted to say. I write them here: If you can put into action man and machinery for this, why not use it to create awareness among the community about the Shariah prescribed method for divorce, educate on polygamy and the immorality of the way halala is put to practice instead.

That the board almost banned “instant” triple talaq in 2004, and initiated conversation on the model nikahnama eight years ago, may show that it has a will to reform undesirable social practices. That it hasn’t yet, shows it has no spine.

I want the triple talaq banned, and I am not entirely averse to the idea of a UCC. I realise reforms are acceptable to Muslims, but not when they are by a BJP-led government. The Dadri lynching incident and our Prime Minister’s convenient silence on it, the Kairana controversy, and more recently, the news of the tricolour wrapped casket for the funeral of Dadri-lynching accused, paint a picture of the government’s complicity in the anti-Muslim rhetoric. Surely, we are not blind to it. Or fools. Like one woman office bearer of a Muslim trust said to me, “I love my country, but I cannot be blind to the past and the present of the people in the government and their agenda.”

I cannot disregard the sentiments of the majority of the Muslim community. Neither should the government. Take the Muslims along, the formula has to be integration, not oppression. We need to right what Shayara Bano’s PIL points out. For a start, I think one Mumbai man — Abdul Razzak Maniyar — has shown the way. Posters discouraging triple talaq at city mosques is a wonderful idea. The AIMPLB and the government minorities panel can both get cracking on this one.

The government should perhaps slow down to analyse the stakes if it cares to not burn bridges with the community, but the board should not. It’s already too late in the day. We cannot want both: Right to personal law, and the right to not understand and follow it correctly, because unilateral divorce is not prescribed in the Qur’an. Let the Supreme Court do their job, and you do yours.

Jayalalithaa’s health: Madras HC dismisses plea seeking report, says it was for ‘political purposes’

Jayalalithaa’s health: Madras HC dismisses plea seeking report, says it was for ‘political purposes’

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Chennai: Observing that it should not be used for “political purposes”, the Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a PIL seeking a detailed report from the government on the health of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, undergoing treatment at a hospital here since 22 September.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. PTITamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. PTI

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. PTI

When the PIL came up, the first bench headed by Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul observed, “This forum should not be used for political purposes and it is a publicity interest litigation.”

“The hospital is already issuing health bulletins. PIL is dismissed,” the court said.

The petitioner ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy, a social activist, had submitted that the people of Tamil Nadu were eager to know about the health condition of Jayalalithaa.

The PIL also sought releasing of photographs of the meeting Jayalalithaa is said to have had with her cabinet colleagues and officials in the hospital.

The 68-year-old AIADMK leader was admitted to the Apollo Hospital after she complained of fever and dehydration.

It’s a publicity stunt: Madras HC dismisses petition seeking govt statement on Jayalalithaa’s health

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition seeking information on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s health, calling it a ‘publicity stunt’.The remarks were made by a division bench while hearing a PIL by social activist ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy, who sought a detailed report from the government on the health condition of Jayalalithaa.The petition had also sought release of photographs of the meeting she is said to have had with her cabinet colleagues and officials at the hospital.Earlier, the court had asked the state government to inform it about the health condition of the AIADMK supremo as Jayalalithaa has been in the hospital for nearly two weeks.The court had also observed that an official release with regard to the health condition of 68-year-old Jayalalithaa, who has been undergoing treatment at a hospital in Chennai since September 22, would reduce the anxiety of the people.The court asked Tamil Nadu’s Additional Advocate General C Manishankar to get back to it after consulting the government on the health condition of the chief minister.A day ago, opposition party DMK said that it was “regrettable” that the Tamil Nadu government had not given details on the health condition of Jayalalithaa despite their request in this regard.

SC mulls on ways to enforce directions to ban ‘insulting’ jokes on Sikhs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supreme Court on Monday expressed willingness to issue directions to curb dissemination of “insulting” jokes against Sikhs through public modes like internet and SMS, but said the key concern was the enforcement of such directives.”We are not saying that there should not any guideline on the issue, but the question remains as to how these directions will be enforced,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices C Nagappan and A M Khanwilkar said. The comments or jokes may be “humiliating and denigrating” to the community, the issue is how to enforce any such direction, the bench observed.It asked lawyers and Sikh bodies like Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Amritsar, Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee from Haryana and Gurudwara Management Committee from Patna Sahib in Bihar to mull over the issue after perusing various reports and materials and come out with their suggestions. “We can pass orders to stop commercial exploitation of such jokes and materials,” it said, adding that in private arena, it will be difficult to contain such acts.”People from Northeast and South also face such kind of harassment and discrimination,” the bench observed, adding “even if you are a Kannadiga or a Telugu or a Malayalee, people still call you a Madrasi. This is very insulting”. The bench then deferred the hearing on the PIL by four weeks and sought suggestions about the possible directions on such practices and ways to enforce them. Earlier, the court had asked organisations representing the Sikh community to make a united effort in their endeavour to ban jokes on them, rather than being divided in giving suggestions and evolving mechanisms to curb such activity.”You should be united in the effort rather than divided,” it had said while hearing a batch of petitions seeking ban on circulation of jokes on Sikhs. Senior advocate R S Suri, appearing for DSGMC, had said a committee comprising former apex court judges — Justices H S Bedi, M Y Eqbal and former diplomat Pavan Verma and former bureaucrat M P Bezbaruah, an expert on northeast — was working and all of them will meet shortly to come out with the guidelines.The senior advocate had said there was a need for simple guidelines which can be executed and “one final meeting is required.” The first PIL on the issue was filed by a woman lawyer, Harvinder Chowdhary, who had then got emotional and spoke about the menace of jokes on the community by referring to the suicide of a boy, who was upset by a joke lampooning the community.Chowdhary had said she herself has been the victim of being a Sikh, was treated in a discriminatory manner and suffered humiliation. She contended that such jokes were a violation of Sikhs’ right to equality and an attack on the dignity of the community. Earlier the apex court had observed that there was a need to sensitise the society from the formative stages.The Supreme Court, which had asked for suggestions from the committee, had said it can stop jokes when they are circulated for a commercial purpose and it would examine the framing of guidelines to stop circulation of racist or communal jokes in the cyber world. The DSGMC has sought direction to Telecom Ministry to filter websites which targeted Sikh community, on the ground that it was violative of sections 153A and 153B of the IPC. It had said the community was against making and circulating of jokes on Sikhs, Biharis and calling people from Northeastern states by a particular term.

Panama papers: Multi-Agency Group probing Indians named, govt says SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Multi-Agency Group (MAG), comprising officials of CBDT, RBI, Financial Intelligence Unit and ED, has been set up to ensure “speedy and coordinated” probe against Indians whose names have figured in the Panama papers for allegedly holding bank accounts in foreign nations, government told the Supreme Court on Monday. An undisclosed income of about Rs 8,186 crore has been brought under the tax ambit despite non-sharing of any information by the Swiss authorities, the Department of Economic Affairs told the apex court. “However, despite best efforts, the Swiss competent authority has not shared any information (with India) on various grounds including Treaty limitations and their domestic legal barriers. “The deponent (Centre) submits that the alternative method of assisting the tax payer to obtain the information and documents was pursued with the said bank which has led to obtaining of the requisite information/documents in a considerable number of cases…”Tax demand of Rs 5,377 crore has been raised which includes demands of protective assessments,” the affidavit filed by Manu J Vettickan, Deputy Director in the Ministry, said, as it reiterated the commitment of NDA government on unearthing black money.Centre seeks dismissal of PIL asking for court-monitored probeThe Centre, which sought dismissal of the PIL seeking a court-monitored CBI probe into Panama paper leaks, said about Rs 1,282 crore has been levied in 159 cases pertaining to concealment of tax due to the goverment. “So far 164 prosecution complaints have been filed in 75 cases. The apex court-appointed SIT on black money has been kept updated on the progress in these investigations,” the affidavit said.The Finance Ministry, however, refused to respond to the allegations relating to an interim plea of advocate M L Sharma seeking a direction that the offshore portfolio investors, who invest in the Indian stock market through participatory-notes, should not be allowed to withdraw money till further orders. It said that the issue related to market regulator SEBI, which was the competent authority in this regard.Dealing with the issue of progress made so far in the probe into the Panama papers, the Centre said, “Till date, five reports have been submitted by the MAG to the government. The SIT on black money is being regularly updated on such issues.” Referring to the FEMA provisions on opening of foreign currency account (FCA) by Indians in offshore, the affidavit said no Indian “shall open or hold or maintain the FCA provided that FCA held or maintained before the commencement of these (FEMA) regulations by a person resident in India with special or general permission of the RBI, shall be deemed to be held or maintained under these regulations”.It, however, said the RBI may permit an Indian to open or hold or maintain a FCA if an application is made in this regard. The Centre opposed the contention raised in the PIL that the re-appointment of U K Sinha as SEBI chief was illegal and hence be quashed. “With regard to appointment of U K Sinha as SEBI Chairman, it may be noted that in terms of SEBI rules…, the Chairman and every whole-time member of SEBI shall be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of the search committee,” it said, adding that the appointment was made in accordance with law and has been held valid by the apex court also. Centre defends P-NotesThe Centre refused to respond to the allegation that ill-gotten monies were being infused in the Indian capital market through P-Notes by Indians, saying that this issue pertained to SEBI. Dealing with the issue of Indians holding secret accounts in HSBC Bank in Switzerland, the Centre said, “Investigation into foreign assets/bank accounts was called through Director General of Income Tax (DGIT), Investigation, across the country and the same has resulted into detection of considerable amount of undisclosed income.”With a view to collect further information/evidence and take the investigation to a logical conclusion, large number of references have been made under DTAAs/TIEAs to the competent authority of respective foreign countries/ jurisdictions.” The government lamented that Swiss authorities have not been sharing information due to various reasons including Treaty limitations and their domestic reasons. Coming back to the ongoing probe against those named in Panama papers, the government said the petition was based on the information published in the newspapers and on the website of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.”The names of the specific persons mentioned in the PIL are already available in public domain and are under investigation by various law enforcement agencies including the Income Tax Department,” the affidavit said. Seeking dismissal of the PIL, it said the SIT on black money has been kept informed on regular basis about the development made in the probe. “The instant writ petition, neither raises any substantial question of law nor any grounds, thereby deserves to be dismissed,” the affidavit said.The apex court while taking note of the response, asked advocate Sharma to file his rejoinder and fixed the PIL for hearing after two weeks. The PIL had sought a court-monitored CBI probe into the Panama papers leaks which contained an unprecedented amount of information, including more than 11 million documents covering 2,10,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions. Each transaction spanned different jurisdictions and may involve multiple entities and individuals.The plea also suggested a direction to CBI to lodge FIR and conduct investigation against the SEBI chairman, his associates, share brokers etc. for alleged offences, including under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The petition had alleged that Panama papers include the names of nearly 500 Indians, including celebrities and industrialists, who have allegedly parked funds in offshore accounts in transactions brokered by the law firm.

Supreme Court refuses urgent hearing on PIL over Indus Water Treaty

Supreme Court refuses urgent hearing on PIL over Indus Water Treaty

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to grant an urgent hearing on a PIL seeking a declaration of the India-Pakistan Indus Water Treaty as unconstitutional.

File image of Supreme Court. AFPFile image of Supreme Court. AFP

File image of Supreme Court. AFP

“There is no urgency in the matter. It will come up for hearing in due course,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar said.

Advocate M L Sharma, who filed the PIL in his personal capacity on the issue, sought urgent hearing of the matter saying the treaty was unconstitutional as it was not signed as per the constitutional scheme and hence should be declared “void ab initio”.

“Keep politics aside. The matter will come in due course,” the bench said when the lawyer insisted on an urgent hearing.

Bombay High Court refuses to hear petition against reservation to Marathas

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday refused to hear a petition against the decision of the Maharashtra government to provide 16 percent reservation to the Maratha community in jobs and educational institutions.

File image of Bombay high court. IBNlive

File image of Bombay High Court. IBNlive

“Not before me,” said Justice VM Kanade sitting in a division bench with Justice Swapna Joshi when the PIL, filed by the activist Ketan Tirodkar, and an application filed by Vinod Patil seeking expeditious hearing, came up. Justice Kanade did not give any reason for recusing himself.

In December 2014, the HC had stayed the decision to grant reservation in response to PILs filed by Tirodkar and others. The stay is still in operation. Tirodkar’s PIL contended that the decision to term the Maratha community as socially and educationally backward is a “fraud” committed upon the country and its Constitution.

The Congress-NCP government in 2014 had announced reservation for Marathas, a politically dominant community. It had also provided five percent reservations for Muslims. The PIL has only challenged the reservation for Marathas.

75 percent or more land in the state is owned by the Maratha community and between 1962 and 2004, over 1200 out of the over 2000 MLAs were Marathas, and more than 72 percent of the cooperative institutions are controlled by the people belonging to the community, it said.

Bihar: Patna HC dismisses PIL seeking direction for implementation of Rs 1.25 lakh cr

Tue, 20 Sep 2016-08:04pm , Patna , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Patna High Court on Tuesday dismissed a PIL seeking its direction to the central government for implementation of the special package of Rs 1.25 lakh crore for Bihar which was announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi during last Assembly polls.A division bench comprising Chief Justice Iqbal Ahmad Ansari and Justice Anjan Mishra dismissed the PIL filed by advocate Anil Kumar Mukund who sought direction for implementation of special package of Rs 1.25 lakh crore for Bihar.The bench said that it could not pass such an order and the petitioner could approach other forum for redressal of grievances.The court dismissed the PIL after hearing both the counsel for the central and the state governments, besides that of the petitioner.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a special package of Rs 1.25 lakh crore for Bihar at a public meeting in the run-up to the Assembly polls in the state last year.

SC dismisses PIL seeking mechanism other than collegium for judges’ appointment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on having a mechanism other than collegium for the appointment of judges. A PIL was filed in the apex court by National Lawyers Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms, seeking a new mechanism for the appointment of judges in High Courts and the Supreme Court. The top court also dismissed a plea seeking formation of a separate committee for appointment of the Supreme Court and High Courts’ judges.A lawyers’ association had filed this plea seeking transparency in judicial appointments. The court stated that the demand for a committee may not be constitutionally tenable and the Union Government is already preparing an Memorandum of Procedure (MOP) in this regard.

Bombay High Court set to decide on entry of women in inner sanctum of Haji Ali Dargah

The Bombay High Court is set to pronounce its verdict in the matter pertaining to entry of women in to the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali Dargah today.The high court is hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by several women activists urging the court to lift restrictions imposed on entry of women in the dargah by the Haji Ali Dargah Trust.The state government had in February said before the Bombay High Court that unless the Dargah Board is able to prove that ban is part of their religious practice with reference to Quran, women should be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Haji Ali.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The trust had claimed that separate arrangements are made for women who are allowed up to a certain point from where they can offer prayers but they cannot touch the tomb of a male saint as it is a sin in Islam.Amid all this, Bhumata Brigade activist Trupti Desai yesterday visited Shani Shingnapur temple to seek blessings ahead of the verdict.”The Bhumata Brigade had taken out a protest in regard to the entry of women in the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali Dargah. The verdict in regard to the PIL in the Bombay High Court will come tomorrow. We are going to the Shani temple today to pray that the verdict comes in our favour,” Desai told ANI on Monday.The activist – who had successfully campaigned against the ban on women entering the Shani Shingnapur temple – had in April, planned to enter Haji Ali dargah, which does not allow women in its core area.However, local residents and policemen foiled Desai’s entry.

Allahabad HC declines to entertain PIL to restrain electronic and print media of Kairana incident

Lucknow: The Allahabad High Court has declined to entertain a PIL seeking a direction to restrain the electronic and print media from alleged glorification of the Kairana incident which may disturb communal harmony.

However, the court left it open to the authorities concerned to take appropriate action or the aggrieved person to approach the appropriate forum, if any such action was required be taken under the law.

A division bench of justices Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Shamsher Bahadur Singh passed this order on June 23 on a PIL filed by a journalist impleading major political parties and news channels as well as the Press Council of India (PCI).

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Representational image

“We have considered the submissions raised and we find that in absence of statutory obligations, the nature of the advisory or administrative direction as sought may not be possible at this stage on the material placed on record but in the event any such publication of views, ideas or news either by electronic or print media is likely to cause communal disharmony, then it would be appropriate for respective central and the state governments through their authorities as well as the PCI to issue such necessary instructions that may be required for the purpose of containing any such situation that is being apprehended,” the court said.

The petition had alleged that the entire atmosphere which had been created in connection to a particular incident at Kairana amounts to a clear violation of ethical principles pronounced by PCI and also leads to a situation, which may precipitate communal tensions.

The allegations were about the alleged exodus of certain members of a particular community from Kairana that were being “glorified” and were being “politically utilised” to the detriment of the public at large in order to disturb communal harmony.

Kolkata Police summons Narada News CEO, Mathew Samuel in connection with Narada tapes

Kolkata Police summoned Narada News CEO, Mathew Samuel in connection with Narada tapes, where Trinamool Congress leaders were caught accepting bribe.In an email communication from Kolkata Police’s Economic Offences Wing to the Narada News website, Samuel has been asked to appear before the police in person immediately. Earlier, the Calcutta High Court had observed that the court’s decision in the Narada case will be final, while hearing a PIL.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Presently, the devices with which the Narada sting was shot and the raw footage is in High Court’s possession. On Friday, the matter will be again heard by the Calcutta High Court.

HC directs Tamil Nadu govt to form a committee to check liquor consumption

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday directed the state government to form a committee to check the menace of alcohol consumption, particularly among the youth, and submit a status report within two months.

The court’s response came when Advocate General AL Somayaji submitted that a committee will be formed in this regard. However, the court said mere formation of a committee itself may not suffice to monitor the holistic scheme of how to reduce alcohol consumption.

“This is so as lot of private organisation and voluntary agencies worked in these social sectors and may have both information and solution,” it said and pointed out that only a coordinated effort can be successful.

Representational Image. ReutersRepresentational Image. Reuters

Representational Image. Reuters

The matter relates to a PIL filed by Advocates Forum for Social Justice represented by K Balu, its President, also an advocate of the PMK party, seeking a direction to give effect to the recommendations and measures set out in the ‘Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2014’.

“We expect the committee to be constituted within a maximum period of two weeks from today. The committee to submit a status report on the action taken within two months of its constitution,” the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, said.

Disposing of the petition, the bench said “No further directions are required, except that it should be a court monitored process at least initially till the system starts working of its own.”

When the matter came up, the petitioner brought to the knowledge of the court that the toll free prohibition helpline no:10581 was ineffective.

The bench went through the affidavit filed by Apurva Varma, Principal Secretary to Home, Prohibition and Excise Department, in response to the PIL narrating steps taken in respect of the World Health Organization report and heard the Advocate General’s submission.

The bench said though the AG has cited various aspects of the ‘Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, 2014’ being implemented in different forms, “the ground reality is quite different. It cannot be disputed that there is large consumption of alcohol and there is need to check this habit especially in two sectors one the under aged sector and another where essential family means are diverted to purchase of alcohol.”

To prevent liquor consumption among the ‘under aged sector,’ the bench suggested that personnel demand identity cards of such persons, who they suspect are underage, at the liquor sale depots.

Gujarat HC notice to govt on another PIL against 10% EBC quota

The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the state government on yet another public interest litigation challenging the ordinance providing 10 per cent reservation in educational institutions and government jobs for members of the economically weaker section of the general category. A division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi issued the notice and scheduled a hearing for June 22, clubbing the petition with two other PILs filed on the same issue earlier. The latest PIL, filed by advocate I H Syed, challenges the ordinance on the ground that it violates the Supreme Court judgement in the `Indra Sawhney vs Union of India’ case. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 1993 judgement puts a cap of 50 per cent on the reservations. Before this, Dulari Basarge, a student, has filed a PIL stating that the 10 per cent additional reservation curtails her chances to get admission to a government medical college. Another petition, filed by Jayantbhai Manani, also challenges the ordinance on the ground that it breaches the 50 per cent cap imposed by the Supreme Court and reservation can not be granted on the basis of poverty. On May 1, the BJP government issued the ordinance carving out 10 per cent EBC quota for the general category candidates in the face of the agitation of the Patel (Patidar) community for reservations. The new quota can be availed of by those with annual family income of upto Rs 6 lakh.

Bombay HC dismisses PIL seeking new Commission to probe Mahatma Gandhi murder

The Bombay High Court on dismissed a public interest litigation seeking appointment of a Commission of Inquiry to probe afresh the murder of Mahatma Gandhi in January 1948, and the conspiracy behind it. A bench headed by Justice V M Kanade was of the opinion that it cannot hear a matter that had concluded long ago. “We are inclined to dismiss the petition…the writ jurisdiction of the high court cannot be exercised in a matter which has concluded long ago. As a long time has lapsed, we cannot go into the issue now,” said the bench. The judges said they would give a reasoned order later for dismissing the petition. The petitioner, Dr Pankaj Phadnis, arguing in person, said he had forensic evidence with him to justify a fresh probe into Gandhi’s killing. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also said that even Supreme Court was hearing the 150-year-old matter pertaining to precious ‘Kohinoor’ diamond in public interest. On the same ground, the PIL, seeking new Commission to probe Gandhi’s death, should be heard by the HC. Notably, All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front has filed a petition in the Supreme Court demanding that Kohinoor and other famous antiques, including the ring and sword of Tipu Sultan, should be returned to India by the United Kingdom. The judges rejected the plea of Phadnis and dismissed his petition seeking fresh probe into Gandhi’s murder. Phadnis, author, researcher and trustee of Abhinav Bharat, Mumbai, had claimed that the then J L Kapur Commission of Inquiry had not been able to unearth the entire conspiracy that culminated in the killing of Gandhi. According to the prosecution’s story, the Father of the Nation was shot at by the assassin with a revolver which had seven compartments of bullets. Gandhi received three bullet injuries while the remaining four bullets were recovered by police from the weapon, says the petition. However, the PIL alleged that Gandhi had received four bullet wounds on his person on January 30, 1948, when he was shot dead. In this regard, the petitioner has produced several media clippings to show that Gandhi had sustained four bullet injuries. The petition said that the new Commission of Inquiry should conduct a probe to find out who had fired the fourth shot and to establish whether there was any other assassin besides Nathuram Godse.

Now, Delhi is becoming racist: Delhi HC on attack on Africans

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday expressed anguish over the recent attacks on African nationals in the national capital saying the city is now “becoming racist”.Concerned over public taking law into their hands, a bench of justices B D Ahmed and R K Gauba said though there was “let up” from the crime against women, there have been attacks on African nationals.”There is a let up from crime against women. Now Delhi is becoming racist. There have been attacks on African nationals.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>We do not know what is happening in the city,” the bench said.”We can only express anguish, you (government) are the executive, you will have to implement the directions given by the court,” the bench further said while expressing concern that “public was taking law into their hands” and there was a need for government to take appropriate steps.The court’s oral observation came during hearing of a PIL initiated by it after the December 16, 2012 gangrape case, in which it has been giving directions from time to time regarding improving crime investigation and protection of women in the national capital.The attacks on Africans took a diplomatic downturn following the May 20 attack on Congolese national Masunda Kitada Oliver who died in a brutal attack in south Delhi.There have been reports appearing everyday about alleged racist remarks and attacks on African nationals.However, the government has said all such incidents cannot be termed as racist.

VVIP Chopper Scam: SC seeks Centre’s reply on PIL for FIR against Congress leaders including Sonia, Manmohan

The Supreme Court on Friday sought responses from the Centre and the CBI on a plea seeking registration of an FIR against some political leaders and others whose names have allegedly been referred to in an Italian court’s verdict in AgustaWestland chopper case.A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh issued notice on the PIL filed by advocate M L Sharma in which he has also sought a court-monitored probe in the case.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The PIL, which was filed last week had sought lodging of FIR against political leaders, including UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose names have allegedly been referred to in the Itqalian court’s judgement.CBI had in 2013 registered a case in connection with alleged bribes paid by the firm to Indians to clinch the deal for 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs including the President and Prime Minister.The plea, which has made Ministry of Defence and CBI as parties, has sought registration the FIR against persons whose names have figured in the judgement delivered by the Italian court in Milan on April 7, 2016.It has sought a court-monitored SIT or CVC probe and has also raised legal questions including as to whether decision of the Italian court is “not enough” to prosecute.The plea said the probe began in Italy in 2011 into the allegation that AgustaWestland paid a commission of Euro 51 million (over Rs 350 crore) to Switzerland-based consultant Guido Ralph Haschke to facilitate the deal.”The scope of the Italian probe will end at the point where the alleged commission money reaches India. The probe will not go into who was paid the money in the Indian establishment or how the funds were worked around within the power circles of New Delhi,” it said.”That action has been taken in Italy on the VVIP helicopter scam. The CEO of the company has been arrested. But no action has been taken here. The country which would have benefited from the deal has taken action while the country which lost money has not done anything,” it said, adding that the petitioner is apprehending that the case may meet the fate of Bofors scandal.

Maharashyra: Bunding wall at Ramkund to be rebuild

Scarcity of water has left the Ramkund in the river Godavari dry once again after it was filled with water brought by tankers. The people’s representatives, NGOs and the municipal administration is trying out various measures to meet the need for water.In one such measure suggested by the mayor and the deputy mayor, soon there may be plans to reduce the length of the Ramkund once again by building a bunding wall separating it from the rest of the flow of the river. The wall, which existed earlier, was dismantled during the Kumbhmela last year to accommodate large number of pilgrims taking bath in the Ramkund.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Ramkund went dry for the first time in the history, the purohits demanded that water to be released in the holy pond as large number of pilgrims visit the place. Many solutions were made to fill it with water, the one Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) adopted was pouring water through tankers. However, the Ramkund with its extended capacity now needs about 20 lakh litres of water to fill it; whereas the tankers could hardly manage 36,000 litres of water. The extended capacity has now become a problem, hence, the solution is to rebuild the bunding wall thereby reducing its capacity.Earlier, the NMC had suggested digging bore wells near Ramkund to extract water and fill the pond but this was largely objected to by the NGOs. The only solution was to fill the pond with the help of tankers. But to get the private tankers to fill the pond to its capacity every day is asking for too much.”The NMC is playing around with Ramkund and its sentiments”, stated Devang Jani, a petitioner who has filed a PIL to remove the concretisation of the river bed. “I had opposed this measure of releasing water by tankers as we are not utilising a proper solution to the problem. Many measures like opening up of the flood gates below the Victoria bridge to release water in the Ramkund directly were suggested. The gates are not in working condition presently but can be repaired and used as there is water behind the gates for up to 5.5km stretch at least. This water can be utilised,” Jani stated.If the gates can’t be repaired, the water can be lifted by pumps, purified and released in the Ramkund. The system of purification with pipe lines exists at the base of the Ramkund, Jani suggested.The NMC, meanwhile, released water from Gandhi talav (pond) but this water is totally polluted as boating is carried out in Gandhi talav. Attempts were also made to release filtered water through water pipelines, but this was strongly objected and hence stopped immediately. The tankers are doing their best but it is not enough, Jani opined. Hence, there are plans to build the wall once again and reduce the capacity so that tankers can fill the holy pond. This measure is again criticised by the NGOs.

Entry to women in temples: Supreme Court questions practice of barring women at Sabarimala

The Supreme Court on questioned the centuries-old practice of barring entry of women between the age group of 10 to 50 years to Sabarimala temple in Kerala saying it would test whether “faith and belief” can differentiate among persons of same “denominations”.”The question is should there be such a religious practice which creates a dent on the concept of gender equality. You must have some kind of cosmopolitan belief which treats denominations of same faith equally,” a bench of justices Dipak Misra, V Gopala Gowda and Kurian Joseph said. The “tussle” and “differentiation” between the right of men and women will have to withstand constitutional scrutiny, it said when senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the Travancore Devaswom Board which manages the hill-top shrine, vehemently said, “Nobody, possibly the court also, can question the faith and belief.” <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Venugopal, referring to an apex court judgement, said such a judicial intervention would cause “injustice” to the age- old faith and belief and would adversely affect religious institutions of all faiths.He also said the President of Indian Young Lawyers’ Association, which has filed the PIL on the issue, is a practicising Muslim and now demands have started coming up for allowing entry of women in the Haji Ali shrine in Mumbai which, they say, is against their religious practices.He also reiterated that women are not discriminated on the ground of gender as girls and women of a particular age-group are allowed. At the outset, the counsel for Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar sought to intervene in the ongoing hearing of the PIL.Favouring the age-old traditions, he said the devotees of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala have a “fundamental right of practicing their religion in accordance with the beliefs, cultural traditions and rituals associated with the particular deity i.e., the celibate Lord Ayyappa who presides over the Sabarimala Temple”.Besides the lawmaker, advocate M L Sharma and two Kerala- based organisations, Hind Navotthana Pratishtan and Narayanashrama Tapovanam, also sought nod to intervene. The court, which did not allow these pleas for the time being, however, assured them of a hearing at a later stage. Venugopal also referred to some constitutional provisions to drive home the point that courts should not venture into the territory of “faith and belief” and stressed that there was no gender discrimination in the instant case. He also referred to the 1993 Kerala High Court judgement on the issue and said that it has already been settled. The hearing remained inconclusive and would resume on May 6.The management of the Sabarimala temple, located on a hilltop in the Western Ghats of Pathanamthitta district, had told the court that the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years was because they cannot maintain “purity” on account of menstruation.

Centre refuses to share details on India’s efforts in Kohinoor retrieval

New Delhi: The Centre has declined to share details of India’s efforts to get back the famous Kohinoor diamond from the UK, saying the matter was subjudice.

“A petition has been filed in Supreme Court of India regarding retrieval of Kohinoor diamond from London, UK. Since the matter is now subjudice, hence no information can be provided,” the Archaeological Survey of India said in reply to an RTI query filed by PTI.

An application was filed with the External Affairs Ministry seeking details of steps taken for return of Kohinoor along with copies of letters written to and response received from the United Kingdom in this regard. The query was forwarded to Culture Ministry.

The issue of Kohinoor diamond has been in news for the last few days. In response to a Public Interest Litigation being heard by the apex court, the government had on April 18 said the diamond estimated to cost over USD 200 million was neither stolen nor “forcibly” taken by British rulers but gifted to the East India Company by erstwhile rulers of Punjab 167 years back.

The St Edward's crown, used in coronations of British monarchs/ AFPThe St Edward's crown, used in coronations of British monarchs/ AFP

The St Edward’s crown, used in coronations of British monarchs/ AFP

However, the next day, it had said all efforts will be made to get it back.

Kohinoor, which means mountain of light, is a large, colourless diamond that was found in southern India in early 14th century. The 108-carat gem, which came into British hands during the colonial era, is the subject of a historic ownership dispute and has been claimed by at least four countries including India.

Earlier responding to another RTI application, the ASI had said under the provisions of the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972, India takes up the issue of retrieval of only such antiquities as have been illegally exported out of the country.

“Since the object referred by you (Kohinoor) has been taken out of the country prior to the Independence, the
Archaeological Survey of India is not in a position to process the matter,” it had said.

To a question seeking details of items which are in the UK’s custody and India wants to claim them back, the ASI, which functions under the Culture Ministry said: “There is no list available with the Archaeological Survey of India about the items in Britain’s custody”.

The apex court is hearing the PIL filed by All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front seeking directions to the High Commissioner of United Kingdom for return of the diamond besides several other treasures.

The PIL has made Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Culture, High Commissioners of the UK, Pakistan and Bangladesh as parties to the case. It has also sought return of the ring and sword of Tipu Sultan and other treasures of him besides Bahadur Shah Zafar, the Queen of Jhansi, Nawab Mir Ahmad Ali Banda and other rulers of India.

Centre declines to share information on bringing back Kohinoor diamond from UK

The Centre has declined to share details of India’s efforts to get back the famous Kohinoor diamond from the UK, saying the matter was subjudice.”A petition has been filed in Supreme Court of India regarding retrieval of Kohinoor diamond from London, UK. Since the matter is now subjudice, hence no information can be provided,” the Archaeological Survey of India said in reply to an RTI query filed by PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An application was filed with the External Affairs Ministry seeking details of steps taken for return of Kohinoor along with copies of letters written to and response received from the United Kingdom in this regard. The query was forwarded to Culture Ministry.
ALSO READ Governmnet to discuss Kohinoor diamond issue in ParliamentThe issue of Kohinoor diamond has been in news for the last few days. In response to a Public Interest Litigation being heard by the apex court, the government had on April 18 said the diamond estimated to cost over US $200 million was neither stolen nor “forcibly” taken by British rulers but gifted to the East India Company by erstwhile rulers of Punjab 167 years back.However, the next day, it had said all efforts will be made to get it back.
ALSO READ In a U-turn Modi government promises to make all efforts to bring back Kohinoor diamondKohinoor, which means mountain of light, is a large, colourless diamond that was found in southern India in early 14th century. The 108-carat gem, which came into British hands during the colonial era, is the subject of a historic ownership dispute and has been claimed by at least four countries including India.Earlier responding to another RTI application, the ASI had said under the provisions of the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972, India takes up the issue of retrieval of only such antiquities as have been illegally exported out of the country.”Since the object referred by you (Kohinoor) has been taken out of the country prior to the Independence, the Archaeological Survey of India is not in a position to process the matter,” it had said.To a question seeking details of items which are in the UK’s custody and India wants to claim them back, the ASI, which functions under the Culture Ministry said: “There is no list available with the Archaeological Survey of India about the items in Britain’s custody”.The apex court is hearing the PIL filed by All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front seeking directions to the High Commissioner of United Kingdom for return of the diamond besides several other treasures.The PIL has made Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Culture, High Commissioners of the UK, Pakistan and Bangladesh as parties to the case. It has also sought return of the ring and sword of Tipu Sultan and other treasures of him besides Bahadur Shah Zafar, the Queen of Jhansi, Nawab Mir Ahmad Ali Banda and other rulers of India.

Haji Ali row: Women not allowed in mazhar to prevent harassment, say clerics

Leading the campaign to allow women entry into places of worship that don’t permit them, Bhumata Brigade founder Trupti Desai is protesting to gain entry into Haji Ali’s mazhar (tomb of the saint). Earlier this month, the Bombay High Court disposed a PIL challenging the Haji Ali Trust’s decision to ban the entry of women into the sanctum of the shrine and directed the Maharashtra government to ensure compliance of law and prevent discrimination of women at places of worship.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Iamin spoke to a few clerics from different sects of Islam for their opinion on the issue.The Deobandi sect says women have not been allowed in graveyards or in the mazhar since the time of Prophet Mohammed. The prohibition is in apparently in place to save women from harassment and from being teased by miscreants. Mohammed Ashfaq, a cleric at Govandi’s mosque, said that women were not allowed at places where many men are present and activities like Qawwali are held because it leads to harassment. “When it comes to visiting the graveyard or mazhar, women are not allowed there. (It’s) not because they are deprived of praying there, but to save them from harassment and teasing.”Ashfaq said that there was no partiality involved in not allowing women to do certain things and that Islam accorded women dignity. “We keep our important and more valuable things very safe and carefully. Women are more valuable and possess more dignity in Islam (and) that is why Islam has certain norms to save them,” he added.”People also give the example of Mecca, where men and women both pray in congregation but they don’t realise that Makkah Mukarramah is the place where people don’t even think of any sin. But other places cannot be like Meccah mosque,” Ashfaq said.According to the PIL filed by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan in the Bombay High Court, entry to Haji Ali’s dargah had been open to women till June 2012 after which it was restricted. Ashfaq says that the dargah came into existence in 1947. He said that prior to this there was no dargah. According to him, there is a minor difference between the dargah and the grave. The dargah is a concrete or solid grave while the actual grave is made of soil. “This is not sudden prohibition, but it was not implemented. It is something like a wrong thing happening (because) there was no one to stop it,” added Ashfaq.Shafique Mohammed, a cleric of the Ahle Hadith sect and a researcher of Islam at Islamic Information Centre in Kurla, said that there was no concept of mazhar and dargah in Islam and that it was baseless to fight against the prohibition of women from entering into Haji Ali dargah or any other mazhar. “When it comes to equality, Islam talks about justice, not equality. Justice for men and women could be different. In Islam, women have more dignity,” said Shafique, adding, “Women are allowed to pray in mosque if there is a separate place available for them.”Imam Haji Akhtar Mehmood of the Kinara Masjid at Haji Ali said that the mazhar concept is very old. “There was a time when women were allowed to pray inside mosques, but years ago, a companion of Mohammed, named Umar Farooque, asked all women to pray namaz at home instead of the mosque because there was a tendency among men and women to start misbehaving (which is) against Islamic way,” said Haji Akhtar.He further said that the same thing happened at Haji Ali. “Every type of women wearing non-islamic dress can lead to harassment and teasing of women. So the prohibition is fine. Women are allowed to enter into the dargah but they are not in the mazhar,” he added.Members of the Haji Ali Trust refused to comment on the matter.

SC reserves order on PIL on AIPMT for medical college admissions

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on a PIL seeking holding of NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) for All India Pre-Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT) for admission to undergraduate courses across the country.

As the apex court bench headed by Justice Anil R. Dave reserved the order, it said it would not present a fait accompli for states that had contended that NEET could not be thrust on them as they have their own statutory regime for holding entrance examination for admission to medical colleges.

Supreme Court. File photo. ReutersSupreme Court. File photo. Reuters

Supreme Court. File photo. Reuters

At the outset of the reading, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) told the court that it will hold NEET in two phases — first on 1 May and then on 24 July this year.

The result will be declared on 17 August, followed by counselling and admissions.

The court is hearing a PIL filed by NGO Sankalp Charitable Trust, which has contended that as authorities were not conducting the NEET for the students across the country aspiring to join medical colleges, the private medical colleges were holding their own exams to admit the students.

Gujarat HC issues notice to Censor Board on ‘Santa Banta Private Limited’ film song

The Gujarat High Court has issued a notice to the state government, the Censor Board and the Viacom18 Media in response to a PIL taking exception to a song in the film “Santa Banta Private Limited”.The PIL, filed by Anil Dubey, seeks deletion of the line “Daaru ke sang khaani hai (To eat with liquor),” in the song “Machhli jal ki raani hai” from the film which released last week.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and V M Pancholi sought replies from respondents as to why the line should not be removed. The petitioner contends that it may affect the children adversely.The producer Viacom18 Media Private Limited has “in the name of creative liberty played mischief with a rhyme which the children have been learning for more than 50-60 years…by usage of the words, machhli jal ki raani hai, raati daaru ke sang khani hai, the song sends a very bad message to the children seeing or listening it,” it says.”The sentence…directly sends a message to the children of tender age that it is fine to consume fish and that too with liquor,” the PIL says.It has made Gujarat government a respondent on the ground that the song promotes consumption of liquor in the state where prohibition is in force and is against the law.It wants the court to issue necessary guidelines to “ensure that neither in this movie nor in future movies such songs may be made, sung or popularised by film makers and media.”The matter will come up for further hearing after summer vacation.

Sabarimala row: How is mensturation linked to purety, asks Supreme Court

The Sabarimala temple management on Monday told the Supreme Court that the ban on entry of females aged between 10 and 50 years was because they cannot maintain “purity” for 41 days on account of menstruation, prompting the judges to ask how periods could be linked to purity.Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the shrine in Kerala, also claimed the ban was not discriminatory and based on “reasonable classification”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There is no gender discrimination. There is a reasonable classification by which certain class of women are excluded,” senior advocate K K Venugopal, representing the Devaswom Board, told a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra.”What is the fulcrum of this classification,” the bench asked referring to the bar on entry of women of a particular age group.Venugopal said girls and women in the age group are excluded as they cannot maintain purity for a period of 41 days due to the mensuration.”Do you to mean to say that mensuration is associated with with purity of women? You are making distinction based on purity… Now the question is whether the Constitutional principles allow this?” the bench, also comprising Justices V Gopala Gowda and Kurian Joseph, said.At the outset, Venugopal said women and men both are allowed entry into the temple and hence, there is no case of gender discrimination and females of a particular age group are not allowed due to the centuries-old custom. There are as many as eight Lord Ayappa temples in Delhi and NCR region and women are allowed inside, he said, adding that the Sabarimala temple is different.Women are allowed inside in Sabarimala also, but they cannot climb eighteen sacred steps on the hill unless they maintain 41 days of purity, he said, adding that the High Court verdict, favouring the practice, is a judgment “in rem” (continuity) and the apex court should not re-examine it by entertaining a PIL. The arguments remained inconclusive and would resume on May 2.The court is hearing a PIL, filed by Indian Young Lawyers’ Association seeking entry of women into the Sabarimala temple, located on a hilltop in the Western Ghats of Kerala’s Pathanamthitta District.Gender equality is a “constitutional message” and the ban on entry of women of a particular age group into the temple cannot be claimed as a right to manage religious affairs by its management, the court had earlier observed. It had said it would test the “so-called” custom under the provisions of the Constitution.Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, had said “The practice, which keeps women away and prevents them from worshipping the deity of the shrine because of their biology, is derogatory and detrimental to their dignity”.The court had also said that denying women the right to enter and pray in the historic temple cannot be justified on the basis of traditions which violated constitutional principle.Recently, Kerala-based organisations — Hind Navotthana Pratishtan, through its president Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha, and Narayanashrama Tapovanam, through its managing trustee Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha — had moved the court supporting the PIL seeking entry of women into the temple.

Sabarimala temple issue: Two Hindu bodies move SC, seek entry of women in temple

Two religious bodies have moved the Supreme Court supporting the PIL seeking entry of women in the historic Sabarimala temple in Kerala saying no ritual or custom can be used as grounds to discriminate against women in the matter of worship.Kerala-based bodies Hind Navotthana Pratishtan, through President Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha, and Narayanashrama Tapovanam, through its Managing Trustee Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha, have filed the plea seeking to intervene in the PIL being heard by a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”No temple ritual, ceremony or custom can …be made any ground for discriminating against women in the matter of worshiping in any temple, including Sabarimala, as it is a clear violation of the constitutional equality and freedom guaranteed for men and women alike,” the plea, filed through lawyer Ravi P Mehrotra, said.Referring to some religious texts, it said “no defence or refuge to the practice of disallowing women devotees can thus be taken in the case of Sabarimala Temple and Deity, or any other public places of worship, on the ground of widespread/ long-standing belief and custom.”Just as customs can be good, noble and great, they can also be derogatory, destructive and retrograde, as has happened in the case of women, their religious status and equality…,” it said.No custom or practice can claim any credence or exemption on any ground and the Constitution is supreme, it said, adding that the temples come under Constitution and the laws enacted under it. The case would come up for further hearing on Friday.Earlier, the court had said that gender equality was a “constitutional message” and the ban on entry of women of a particular age group in the Sabarimala temple cannot be claimed as a right to manage religious affairs by its management.The court is hearing a PIL, filed by Indian Young Lawyers’ Association seeking entry of women in Sabarimala temple, located on a hill-top in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Kerala’s Pathanamthitta District.

Governmnet to discuss Kohinoor diamond issue in Parliament

The Central Government is likely to discuss and debate the Kohinoor diamond issue in the forthcoming session of the Parliament.Sources revealed the government wants to make its position clear on this issue before the Opposition parties. The government has said that it would make all possible efforts to bring back the valued diamond Kohinoor in an amicable manner.The Ministry of Culture in a statement on Tuesday said the government remains hopeful for an amicable outcome whereby the country gets back a valued piece of art with strong roots in its history. It also said that government has not yet conveyed its views to the Supreme Court contrary to what is being misrepresented in the media. The Ministry said certain news items appearing in the press regarding the Kohinoor Diamond are not based on facts.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It said the factual position is that the matter is sub-judice at present and the PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court that is yet to be admitted.The apex court has granted six weeks time on the request of the Solicitor General to take instructions for making his submission in the matter.

Encroachments an insult to God: Supreme Court

Observing that allowing unauthorised places of worship is ‘insult to God,’ the Supreme Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the state authorities over their inaction to remove illegal structures which have come up on roads and pavements across the country in the name of worship.”You have to demolish such structures. We know you are not doing anything. None of the states are doing anything. You have no right to allow it. God never intended to obstruct the path. But you are obstructing the path. It is an insult to God,” a bench of justices V Gopala Gowda and Arun Mishra observed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The courts remarks came after states and union territories have failed to comply with its previous directions to file affidavits spelling out steps they have taken to remove illegal religious structures from public roads and pavements.With a warning to them, the top court sought their action taken report within two weeks and made it clear that failing which the chief secretaries of the concerned states will summoned for their personal presence to explain non-compliance of various directions of the apex court passed from time to time since 2006.”We don’t appreciate this type of attitude,” the bench said, adding that the orders and directions of the apex court “are not passed for to be kept in the cold storage….Do we pass orders for keeping in cold storage? If you have no respect for court orders, we will deal with the states,” the bench said.The court was hearing PIL filed in 2006 seeking directions were given to states to remove unauthorised structures, including places of worships, from public places.It had on March 8 received a contempt petition against Chhattisgarh government, following which it had asked the state to ascertain the factual position on the basis of allegations made in it.The apex court had directed all other states for compliance of the interim orders passed by it from time to time in this regard.

Govt makes a U-turn on Kohinoor, says will make all efforts to bring back the diamond

New Delhi: Government on Tuesday night made a U-turn on the Kohinoor issue saying it will make all efforts to bring back the valued diamond it had said in the Supreme Court was “neither stolen nor forcibly taken” by British rulers but given to it by erstwhile rulers of Punjab.

In a statement, the government claimed it has not yet conveyed its views to the court “contrary to what is being misrepresented” in the media.

The government statement came a day after the Solicitor General told the Supreme Court, “Kohinoor cannot be said to have been forcibly taken or stolen as it was given by the successors of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to East India Company in 1849 as compensation for helping them in the Sikh wars.”

The court was hearing a PIL which sought government action for the return of over USD 200 million Kohinoor diamond from the UK.

Kohinoor Diamond. Image courtesy: Getty imagesKohinoor Diamond. Image courtesy: Getty images

Kohinoor Diamond. Image courtesy: Getty images

Wishing to put on record that the news items on the issue “are not based on facts”, the official release said the government reiterates its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Kohinoor Diamond in an amicable manner.

The release said the factual position is that the matter is sub-judice at present and the PIL is yet to be admitted.

“The Solicitor General of India was asked to seek the views of the government of India, which have not yet been conveyed. The Solicitor General of India informed the honourable court about the history of the diamond and gave an oral statement on the basis of the existing references made available by the ASI.

“Thus, it should be reaffirmed that the government of India has not yet conveyed its views to the court, contrary to what is being misrepresented,” it said.

The release also noted that the court granted six weeks time on the prayer of the Solicitor General to take instructions for making his submission in the matter.

“… With regard to the Kohinoor Diamond too, government of India remains hopeful for an amicable outcome whereby India gets back a valued piece of art with strong roots in our nation’s history,” it added.

“The status report on which the preliminary submission was made by the Solicitor General have references to the stand taken by Governments earlier that the Kohinoor was a gift and cannot be categorised as an object stolen.

“The material further has references to the views of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru dating back to 1956. Pandit Nehru went on record saying that there is no ground to claim this art treasure back. He also added that efforts to get the Kohinoor back would lead to difficulties,” the release said.

According to the release, Nehru also said, “To exploit our good relations with some country to obtain free gifts from it of valuable articles does not seem to be desirable. On the other hand, it does seem to be desirable that foreign museums should have Indian objects of art.”

Ever since Narendra Modi has taken over as Prime Minister, it said his efforts led to three significant pieces of India’s history coming back home which did not affect the relations with the respective countries.

“In October 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel returned a 10th century Indian statue of Goddess Durga that was stolen in 1990 and found in 2012 at a museum in Germany.

“In April 2015, then Canadian PM Stephen Harper returned a sculpture known as the ‘Parrot Lady’, which dates back to almost 900 years.

“Then Australian PM Tony Abbott, on his India visit in 2014 had returned antique statues of Hindu deities that were in Australian art galleries.

“None of these gestures affected India’s relations with either Canada, Germany or Australia. It was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who as the Chief Minister got back the ashes of Shyamji Krishna Varma almost 70 years after his death,” the release said.

Supreme Court squashes plead against Reliance Jio

In a major boost to the Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd’s (RJIL) plans to commercially roll out the much-delayed 4G (fourth- generation) services, the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday squashed a plea challenging the allocation of 4G spectrum to it and left it to the government to take a decision on spectrum usage charge (SUC).Ruling out that there were irregularities in spectrum allocation, the apex court also turned down a plea by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) for a CBI inquiry into the alleged Rs 40,000-crore scam.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The SC has accepted the Centre’s submission that the conditions in Reliance Jio licence allowed it to change its terms and, therefore, whenever it is felt necessary and expedient in public interest, the percentage of SUC can be hiked.A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) T S Thakur, in its 55-page judgment, stated that the hike in charges for usage of airwaves was determined based on a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommendation in 2013 that it should be charged at an average rate instead of a slab rate.The bench said that before taking a final decision, the Telecom Commission had obtained the Attorney General’s opinion who opined that the SUC charge be retained at 1% for Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) operators, based on which the final decision was taken.On revenue segregation, the bench said it had received a report from a committee that was formed for it.“The report is under consideration and a decision on the report is likely in two months. After considering the report of the committee on revenue segregation, appropriate action will be taken on whether to continue with separate revenue reporting or not or an increase in SUC is required for the proper conduct of telegraph as provided in the Licence Agreement,” stated the judgment.The PIL against Reliance Jio was filed in 2014 by advocate Prashant Bhushan. It had sought the cancellation of government permission to Ambani-owned telecom firm for providing voice telephony on BWA spectrum. The PIL had quoted the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, which has described the licence acquisition as “rigged auction”. The government auditor has alleged in its report that Reliance Jio’s entry into voice telephony by paying a meagre fee of Rs1,658 crore had caused a loss of about Rs3,367 crore to the national exchequer.In 2013, Reliance Jio had won a pan-India 4G licence and was also issued licence for providing voice calls on the 4G network. The Department of Telecom (DoT) has maintained government rules for 3G and BWA do not restrain winners from providing voice services on the network.Meanwhile, industry observers welcomed the “clearing of the air” in the matter and hoped that Reliance Jio would now swiftly move ahead with its plans to roll out its 4G services across the country“This was an issue that was hanging fire, which has finally been sorted out by the Supreme Court, and to that extent, it clears the air. While this is important, the real issue is about when Reliance Jio can actually start offering commercial services because that is the part which has been delayed for six years,” said Dr Mahesh Uppal, director of Com First (India) that advises major Indian telecom companies on policy and regulation.He said that the delay in commercial launch was more to do with reasons relating to market for 4G services than to do with the court case.A senior telecom executive, who did not want to be named, said all developments over the last 2-3 months have been very positive for Reliance Jio’s 4G rollout plans.“Now, they are well placed as far as spectrum is concerned. We should expect full-blown commercial launch of their 4G services by the second half of this year. Overall, they are now becoming much better placed over the last two-three months’ developments,” he said.G Krishna Kumar, a Bengaluru-based telecom executive, said; “The (SC) case getting dismissed would be good news for Reliance to go full speed for the launch. There is a lot of expectation from the people using Internet on mobile that, Reliance Jio could provide substantially lower (1/7th or 1/8th) tariff compared to the current data tariff that is charged by the telecom operators,” he said.

Supreme Court slams Gujarat, Haryana for non-seriousness on drought

Supreme Court on Thursday came down heavily on Gujarat and Haryana governments for their non-seriousness in dealing with the issue of drought.A bench comprising Justices M B Lokur and N V Ramana took both the state governments to task for filing shoddy statistics on the drought hit areas in both the states, asking them whether all work would stop in case there are elections. “Why have you filed all this? You found these papers in your office and filed them here? Is this seriousness that you show on this issue? People are dying. This is not some picnic you are having in Haryana,” the bench observed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At the outset, the Centre sought adjournment in the case as no law officer was available to argue the matter. The bench expressed its anguish at this and said the Centre was not serious about the issue.The apex court expressed displeasure over the absence of Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand during the hearing. When the bench enquired about her presence, a junior lawyer told the court that ASG was busy with a prior engagement. “Two Supreme Court judges have no other job but to come, sit here and look at the clock,” the bench shot back.When the message was passed, ASG Anand rushed to the court for the hearing. During the hearing, the Gujarat government told the bench that a total of 526 villages in three districts were declared as drought affected. It also said that National Food Security Act has been implemented and a notification was issued in this regard from April 1. The court then asked Gujarat why it waited till April 1 to declare drought, when situation was clear in September last year itself.Gujarat government replied that local polls had delayed declaration of drought in the state. To this, the bench asked “will all work stop if there are elections?” Bihar government told the court that there was no drought like situation in the state and all kinds of help was being given in areas where deficient rainfall has been experienced.The apex court had earlier pulled up the Centre for not releasing adequate funds to states for MGNREGA and asked it to give details of expenditure on the scheme in drought-hit states, saying relief has to be provided now and not after one year. On March 31, the apex court had asked Centre to say howmany states had drought management cells and why no district- level disaster management authorities have been set up. It had suggested that the Centre, with the help of satellite data, should analyse the expected rainfall in the monsoon season and take effective steps to tackle drought-like situations on time.The bench is examining various aspects of relief given to drought-hit farmers during the hearing of a PIL filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan seeking urgent implementation of guidelines for areas hit by natural calamity. Earlier, the court had expressed its concern over low compensation paid to calamity-hit farmers and observed that it was leading some of them to commit suicide.The NGO, in its revised prayer, has sought a direction to Centre to abide by the provisions of MNREGA Act and use it for employment generation in drought-affected areas. The PIL filed by the NGO has alleged that parts of 12 states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chattisgarh were hit by drought and the authorities were not providing adequate relief

IPL 2016: Bombay HC raps Maha govt but refuses to stay opening match

The Bombay High Court on Thursday declined to stay the IPL opening match on April 9 here as sought by a public interest litigation challenging use of large quantity of water for maintaining pitches despite the grave water crisis in Maharashtra due to drought.The PIL, filed by Loksatta Movement, sought shifting of IPL matches out of Maharashtra and wanted a stay on the matches scheduled in other cities in the state as well in view of the water crisis. A bench of Justices V M Kanande and M S Karnik, however, said that it was not staying the match on April 9 as it wanted to know from the state government and the municipal body whether the water supplied to the stadiums in tankers was potable or non-potable.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The court was of the opinion that until this query is answered, the issue of granting stay cannot be considered. “The petition is filed just before the IPL matches are to begin from April 9…we do not propose to grant a stay at this stage…we want to know the source of water supplied to the cricket grounds for maintaining the pitches”, the bench observed in its order. The Judges also asked the state government and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to file separate affidavits by April 12, stating whether the water supplied to stadiums during the IPL matches was potable or non-potable.
ALSO READ Maharashtra drought: Latur to get water by train in 15 daysThe Judges also asked both the authorities to inform whether they had formulated any policy for supply of potable and non-potable water to Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan and other cities in Maharashtra. The bench also sought to know from the state and the civic body whether any contingency plans had been drawn in case of further scarcity of water due to delayed monsoon this year.The Judges also asked the authorities to inform in their affidavits whether they had made any inquiries about the source of water supplied to the stadiums through tankers. The bench also asked the authorities to inform whether they had imposed any restraint on use of water in marriages and receptions during April-May 2016 when the state was facing acute water scarcity. Earlier, rapping Maharashtra government, the bench said “this is a serious issue…the government needs to look at it seriously.” “People who have money can afford to have as much water as they can whereas in other places people are getting water once in three days…this is an anomaly,” Justice Kanade said.
ALSO READ Maharashtra drought: Sena makes jibe at CM Fadnavis; says people need to be alive to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’Altogether 20 matches will be played in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur and all these cities are facing water crisis, said the petition. This prompted Justice Kanade to remark “you (state) are dealing with people at large….animals have died, cattle have died, people are dying and you want to maintain pitches and grounds?” The bench asked the government to spell out what short-term and long-term measures it has planned to tide over the water crisis. “It is not the question of IPL alone…what are your (state’s) priorities..how will you regulate water supply…we want to know what you propose to do,” observed Justice Kanade during the hearing.Referring to the issue of tanker lobby, he said “I am told that these tankers charge over Rs 900 per tanker….how it is permissible….how can you allow this…after all, the wells and borewells from where they draw water belong to the Corporation.” Rafiq Dada, BCCI Counsel, said that for IPL matches, the pitches have to remain dry a day before the tournament and a day after that. Hence, water is not required for maintaining the pitches every day.
ALSO READ Supreme Court pulls up Centre on drought relief; says you can’t turn a blind eye towards affected statesActing Advocate General Rohit Deo assured that the state had decided at a high-level meeting today that not a single drop of potable water would be used for maintaining pitches in the stadiums during IPL matches. “We are going to ask the BCCI how much water would they need,” he said.In terms of water scarcity, Mumbai was better off compared to other places in drought-hit state, said the Advocate General. He said, from May 1, water would be transported to Latur in Marathwada region.Justice Kanade remarked “is it not the duty of the state to inquire about water to be used in the stadiums when a drought situation prevails?” “Tankers cannot be used to supply municipal water. Can you allow municipal corporation to make profits by supplying water?,” the Judges said.The bench also sought to know whether the state was considering to draw water from other states to tide over the drought situation in Maharashtra. The PIL contended that 60 lakh litres of water would be used to maintain the pitches at the stadiums where IPL matches would be held from April 9 and it was the state government’s responsibility to impose restraint on the use of water during drought.

PIL filed in Patna HC against Bihar govt’s total ban on alcohol

Patna: A public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed on Wednesday in the Patna High Court challenging the Bihar government’s decision to clamp total ban on sale and consumption of alcohol in the state.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

An ex-serviceman AN Singh filed the PIL in the Patna High Court, a day after the Nitish Kumar ministry declared Bihar a total dry state.

The petition contended that the state government’s decision violated human rights of a citizen about what to eat and drink.

The writ described the penal provision in the Amended Exise Act of Bihar, which was passed in the state Legislative Assembly on 31 March last, as “draconian, arbitrary and malafide” as it violated Article 14, 19, 21 and 22 of the Constitution.

Date for hearing the petition has not yet been fixed.

The petition came a day after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced the state cabinet’s decision to impose total ban on sale and consumption of liquor including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) in the state with immediate effect.

The Bihar government had banned sale and consumption of country and spiced liquor in rural areas from 1 April this year, but had allowed sale of IMFL in towns and cities.

“But, the tremendous response of people, particularly women and children against liquor in Patna and other towns in a short period of four days, only convinced us that a conducive environment against alcohol has been created in the state and that’s why we decided to go for a total ban on liquor after four days only,” Kumar had said on Tuesday.

The Army cantonment areas have been kept out of the ban order.

On ‘toddy’, the state cabinet decided to strictly impose the 1991 guidelines which prohibit sale of toddy within 50 metre of places like hospital, education institutions, religious places among others in towns and 100 metres radius in rural areas.

The 1991 guidelines also prohibit opening of toddy shops at bazar haat, entrance point of such haat and densely populated areas in villages among others.

Bombay HC adjourns PIL seeking action against Hema Malini till April 21

The Bombay High Court on Monday deferred till April 21 a PIL seeking direction to police to file a case of cheating and forgery against yesteryear actress and MP Hema Malini and Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse for alleged illegal allotment of land in the city for her dance academy at a nominal price.A bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka was of the view that instead of seeking criminal action against Malini and the authorities, petitioner Ketan Tirodkar can file a civil plea to challenge the state government’s decision to allot the land for the dance academy. Tirodkar’s PIL alleged that there have been a series of judgements of high court and Supreme Court stating that public property cannot be allotted by the state without issuing advertisement inviting applications from the needy people.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The petition also alleged that a plot of land was recently allotted to the actress in suburban Andheri for running an academy to train students in Indian classical dance of Bharat Natyam, in violation of high court orders and norms.The petition said that Hema Malini Dance Academy vide its letter dated July 6, 2007, had urged the government to allot alternative land against the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) land in Versova.The academy had urged the government to allot 2,000 sq m of the reserved land for the dance academy in suburban Andheri and proposed to develop a garden on the remaining land by its own trust. This was accepted by the government on July 30, 2010, the PIL said.

Madras HC gives clean chit to MIOT, disposes plea alleging illegal construction

Chennai: Giving a clean chit to the private Madras Institute Orthopaedics and Traumatology (MIOT) Hospital here, the Madras High Court on Friday observed that it has taken all requisite permission for construction and the building is in conformity with regulations and there has been no violation.

The first bench, comprising Public Interest Litigation and Justice MM Sundresh, which disposed of the PIL filed by social activist ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy, said the petitioner’s “allegations are based on surmises and conjectures.”

In his PIL, Ramaswamy alleged that MIOT International Hospital constructed a building of 10 floors very close to the Adyar River without proper sanction.

Madras High Court. WIkimedia CommonsMadras High Court. WIkimedia Commons

Madras High Court. WIkimedia Commons

During heavy rains and resultant flood waters in December first week last year, the alleged encroachments by the hospital near the river were flooded, power failure occurred and there were various complications causing death of 18 patients, the petitioner alleged.

He also alleged that no proper action had been taken by police as “an inappropriate case has been registered under Section 174 Cr.P.C.”

The First Bench, which disposed of the PIL after going through the counter affidavit filed by Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, said the affidavit shows that requiste planning permission and completion certificates had been issued from time to time depending on the construction work.

The bench, which perused the interim prayer of Ramaswamy seeking relief to the victims, said “we may notice that an interim prayer cannot go beyond the scope of the main petition. The scope of the petition is unauthorized construction.”

The bench observed that another allegation of Ramaswamy that 75 persons were dead during the incident “is purely imaginary” and cited a police affidavit mentioning registration of cases under various IPC sections, including 304-A (causing death by negligence).

It said post-mortem has been conducted in government hospitals on 14 bodies of patients who were stated to be under treatment at the critical care unit of MIOT Hospital. Five more persons died during the same period and the bodies were handed over to the respective relatives and “thus, the
allegation that 75 persons died is stated to be purely imaginary.”

“The investigation process is stated to be still on to find out if any criminal negligence amounting to culpable homicide is made out. Thus, it has been averred that once the investigation is complete, the final report will be filed before the Judicial Magistrate,” the bench said.

The court noted that the government pleader had informed that the investigation process may take about six weeks more.

“We may notice that one case has been investigated by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mount Range, St.Thomas Mount District, while the other is under investigation of the Inspector of Police, Pallikonda Police Station,” it said.

The bench felt it would be appropriate if both the cases were investigated under the supervision of the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mount Range.

“The writ petition accordingly stands disposed of,” the bench said.

Shani temple row: Entry to places of worship a fundamental right of women, Bombay HC tells Maharashtra govt

The Bombay High Court on Friday directed Maharashtra government to take pro-active steps for ensuring compliance of law to prevent discrimination against women on entry to places of worship, saying “it is the fundamental right of a woman” and the government should protect it.The court, which disposed of a PIL challenging the bar on entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of Shani Shingnapur temple in the state’s Ahmednagar district, said that it can only pass a general direction to the government and cannot go into individual and specific cases.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra government assured the High Court that it is completely against gender discrimination and the provisions of Maharashtra Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act shall be scrupulously implemented. “Secretary of Home Department, Maharashtra, will ensure due compliance and enforcement of the provisions of the Act, and in order to ensure that the policy and purpose of the Act is fully carried out, they (Home department) will issue directions to all superintendents of police and collectors in each district of Maharashtra,” a division bench of Chief Justice DH Waghela and Justice MS Sonak said. “The government shall take all necessary steps to implement the Act,” it further said.”Ultimately it is the fundamental right of a woman and the government’s fundamental duty to protect their (women) right,” Chief Justice Waghela said.The state’s acting Advocate General Rohit Deo, in a submission to the high court, said that a circular or a directive shall be issued to all district collectors and Superintendents of Police, making them aware of the provisions of the Act. They accepted the government’s statement.The government’s submission was made following high court’s rap to the government on Wednesday on the issue, during the hearing of a PIL challenging the prohibition of entry of women in the Shani Shingnapur temple. “The acting Advocate General has assured the court that the state government is against gender discrimination and keeping in view Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution. The government can take pro-active steps to ensure that the fundamental rights are fully realised and not allowed to be encroached upon by any authority,” he observed. The high court further said that it can only pass a general direction to the government and cannot go into individual and specific cases.The court said if any person has any grievance that the Act is not being implemented, then he or she can approach local authority with their complaint.Under the Maharashtra Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956, if any temple or person prohibits any person from entering a temple then he or she faces a six-month imprisonment. The acting AG, however, clarified to HC that if a temple in the state does not allow any person, irrespective of their gender, inside the sanctum sanctorum, then this Act and its provisions will not be of any help. “However, if a temple allows men in the sanctum sanctorum but prohibits women, then this Act and its provisions can be used,” Deo said. Notably, the high court had on Wednesday observed that if men are allowed in a place of worship, then women should also be permitted as no law prevents them from doing so. The HC, while underlining the need for giving equal access to women, also stated that any temple or person imposing restrictions can face a six-month jail term under a Maharashtra law, and asked the government to make a statement if it is worried about the sanctity of a deity.The court had also said that the government should give wide publicity to the Act and issue circulars, informing the general public at large about the Act and its provisions.It had directed government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani to take instructions and make a statement today, on whether or not it will ensure that women will be allowed to enter the temple. The PIL was filed by senior advocate Nilima Vartak and activist Vidya Bal.It said that the prohibition is arbitrary, illegal and in violation of fundamental rights of citizens.The debate over the issue in Maharashtra escalated after a woman last year tried to enter and offer prayers at the Shani Shingnapur temple in ‘breach’ of the age-old practice of prohibiting entry of women. This had prompted the temple committee to suspend seven security men and the villagers to perform purification rituals.Subsequently, the Bhumata brigade led by Trupti Desai had on January 26 launched a high-voltage campaign to breach the ban at the temple and vowed to carry on with its movement for gender justice. Besides, around 150 women under the banner of Bhumata Brigade had last month left for the famous Trimbakeshwar temple in Nashik district seeking to break the bar on female devotees at the inner sanctum of the Lord Shiva shrine. Their attempts were, however, foiled by the police.

Bombay HC’s observations on Shani Shingnapur temple are a breath of fresh air, writes lawyer-activist

In the context of an atmosphere of intolerance in India, the Bombay High Court has refused to be tolerant of an archaic, absurd and arbitrary practice where women are not allowed to enter temples and observe religious traditions and rituals within the premises of religious buildings. The court, in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Vidya Bal and Nilima Varta, two activists from Pune, declared that no law prevents women from entering places of worship. The PIL challenges the archaic tradition that disbars the entry of women inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Shani Shingnapur temple in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra and claims that the prohibition is arbitrary, illegal and violative of the fundamental rights of a citizen, that the Constitution enshrines.

A division bench of Chief Justice DH Waghela and Justice MS Sonak invoked the Maharashtra Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956 and said that under this act, if a temple or person prohibits any person from entering a temple, then he or she will be subjected to six-month imprisonment as punishment. The discriminatory practice is also violative of Article 14 (equality before law), 25 and 26 (freedom of religion) of the Constitution. The two judges remarked – “There is no law that prevents entry of women in any place. If you allow men, then you should allow women also. If a male can go and pray before the deity, why not women? It is the State government’s duty to protect the rights of women.”

The Shani temple in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. Solaris imagesThe Shani temple in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. Solaris images

The Shani temple in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. Solaris images

The paradigm of women’s human rights has been trapped between the age-old universalist and cultural relativist dichotomy for a long time. While addressing various reservations that don’t allow women to exercise their human rights, it has been seen that cultural practices are identified as primary sites of struggle. Women’s human rights have remained contested terrains in the protracted polarities of tradition and modernity. In India where the woman form is worshipped as a pantheon of goddesses, most women between the ages of ten to fifty are not allowed to enter religious buildings. Many religious customs portray women in this age-group to be impure and unworthy for praying and observing rituals because of their menstrual cycles. The Bombay High Court has taken this custom and turned it around on its head, stating that women should have “equal access to places of worship” and that “women can go where men can”.

This progressive observation stretches like a bridge to form a nexus between constitutional freedoms and the religious customs, and in many ways, sets the stage for other ongoing conflicts between religious authorities and the law. On 5 April, 1991, a division bench of the Kerala High Court had upheld the prohibition of women offering worship at the Sabarimala shrine. The restriction was enforced under Rule 3 (b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 (women at such time during which they are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of public worship). The Kerala High Court had upheld the ban in 1991 and directed the Travancore Devaswom Board to implement it. Twenty-five years later, in January 2016, the Supreme Court has challenged the constitutional logic behind this 1500-year-old tradition, and asked for proof that would indicate that women did not enter the sanctum sanctorum 1500 years ago. The temple representatives have cited three arguments in favour of the restriction: the Constitution mandates that the belief of citizens must be protected; secondly, they speak of the notional ‘impurity’ of the menstruating women and thirdly, that it is not safe for women to take the strenuous pilgrimage to the shrine. These arguments are indicative of a patriarchal worldview where women are socially subordinate to men, and that religion and spirituality must be safeguarded from the polluting bodies of women.

The Bombay HC’s observations may only be an obiter dicta to the Supreme Court but its implications are vast. It is a breath of fresh air as it does not merely challenge the constitutionality of a law, but goes beyond its reach and endeavours to uproot a socio-religious custom that breeds gender inequality. The observations will also have an impact on the PIL by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan on the entry of women into the Haji Ali Dargah in Bombay, as it will be absurd to have two separate stance on temples and dargahs.

Unlike the American Constitution that explicitly vouches for the separation of the church from the state, the Indian Constitution combines freedom of religion clauses with a mandate that the state to intervene in religious affairs – Article 25 allows the state to restrict or regulate religious practices, thus, allowing for judicial responses to review customs or personal laws by the legislature. Our courts have a greater responsibility to apply rigorous standards of judicial scrutiny for removal of injustice against the women.

Bharat Mata slogan row: Man who filed PIL against Owaisi gets threat letter

Pune-based activist Hemant Patil has received a threat letter asking him to withdraw his PIL in Bombay High Court against AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi and party MLA in Maharashtra Waris Pathan for refusing to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.”I have filed a complaint at Vishrantwadi police station in Pune under section 507 IPC (criminal intimidation) against an unknown person and will take up the matter with the High Court when the public interest litigation comes up for hearing,” Patil told PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior Police Inspector P N Supekar confirmed that a non-cognisable complaint has been filed and investigations are underway.The letter, written in Marathi language on a postcard by an unidentified person, asked Patil to take back the petition he had filed in high court against Owaisi. It also says that Owaisi is “like God to Muslims and anything against him would not be tolerated”.The letter further said, “Hemant Patil, we will kill you, if you pursue the matter in the high court.” The PIL had urged the court to order an inquiry into speeches made by Owaisi and Pathan recently in which they had allegedly dishonoured the country by making some remarks.The petition had contended that the speeches made by them amounted to spreading communal disharmony and hurting national integrity and unity of the country. Such remarks are anti-national and have the tendency to break the social fabric of the society and divide the people on the basis of religion and parochial issues, said Patil, who heads the NGO Bharat against Corruption.The petition, which is slated to come up for hearing in due course, also demanded a ban on All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), saying that remarks made by the duo amounted to violation of Representation of the People’s Act and were against the basic principles of Constitution.The PIL further sought a direction to the Maharashtra government, Director General of Police and Secretary of Home department to call for the records in respect of speeches delivered by Owaisi at a public rally in Latur and Pathan’s utterances in the state Legislative Assembly that they would not say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.The petition had alleged that Owaisi and his partymen were continuously engaged in delivering speeches which spread communalism and endanger national integration.

JNU protests, Afzal Guru’s hanging and Kunan-Poshpora case: None of us know the real Kashmir

By Sneha Rajaram

Are you an Indian who lives far away from Kashmir, like I do? Have you only just truly woken up to Kashmir this year, as I have? What woke you up? Was it the demonstrations against Afzal Guru’s execution that were held at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on 9 February, and the proceeding spiral of controversies that woke you up?

I was quite unforgivably clueless about Kashmir. I knew it was a place of great danger, and I was vaguely aware that not every Kashmiri wanted to be Indian. Then, after 9 February, I started following the news a bit more. I looked up Afzal Guru on the internet. But I still didn’t understand much. I knew that the BJP was trying to form the state government with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kashmir, who in turn thought that the Afzal Guru’s execution was unjust. Not surprisingly, this just confused me further.

That’s when a new book from Zubaan helped me ask the right questions. 23 February is Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day. It is the anniversary of Kunan-Poshpora, an incident that took place in 1991: two villages called Kunan and Poshpora, in the Kupwara district of J&K, were reportedly raided by the Indian Army. Dozens of women were raped and dozens of men tortured, because the soldiers were searching for militants. The entire case was hushed up and the investigation nipped in the bud.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

However, in 2013, 50 Kashmiri women filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition to reopen the case. In the book Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora?five of those women – Essar Batool, Ifrah Butt, Samreena Mushtaq, Munaza Rashid, Natasha Rather – have written about their respective personal connections to Kunan-Poshpora, their efforts to document, litigate, and mobilize the case, and through it all to convey a vivid picture of what it means to be a Kashmiri, what it means to be a Kashmiri woman, and most of all, what rape means to a Kashmiri woman.

There are many ways in which a beginner can slice the Kashmir subject. There’s the question of truth, lies, investigation and discovery– and how labyrinthine that process is in a court of law. There’s the matter of justice – the progress of the 2013 PIL, and whether it is being pursued purely to seek justice, or to seek an end result. It is also being pursued to officially register the protest against Kunan-Poshpora and pursue an inquiry as far as possible. There’s the extensive documentation in the book – individual victims’ accounts of the incident, maps of the scenes, a list of the soldiers involved, the investigation and the burial of the FIRs, the medical reports and the police reports.

There are also the quick, efficient personal accounts by the co-authors at the beginning of the book, which clarify why azaadi from India is important for some Kashmiris. They paint of soldiers everywhere — men with guns whose perpetration of torture, murder and rape has become normalised. This has happened to the extent that one hears of a torture-related death in the neighbourhood and yet goes off to celebrate a wedding, because if one sat up and took notice of every death, there would be no weddings. Each co-author describes how she personally broke through the propaganda of ‘the soldiers are here to protect us’, and how it became harder for her to be silent as opposed to risking safety by speaking up.

Like every other citizen of any country, I am no stranger to propaganda. I’ve managed to unlearn most of the jingoistic patriotism I was taught in school. Now I want to learn to love the country’s people, rather than the concept of a country. But I can only unlearn at an intellectual and emotional level. Deep down, my body is still indoctrinated. I am deeply disturbed by how I develop goosebumps every time I hear the National Anthem. I know it comes straight from primary school and that I can never change it. So yes, it’s difficult for our bodies, hearts and minds to accommodate a different picture of India from what we’ve known all these years.

But over these last few weeks it’s also become clear to me that this task must be performed by all of us whose idea of India is not flexible enough. Despite the evidence, the Army accused the victims of Kunan-Poshpora of lying through their teeth. Similarly, some readers may be tempted to dismiss this new book because it doesn’t tell the ‘correct’ version of the story or the one they want to hear. To them I say: meet Kunan-Poshpora halfway, at the very least.

One of the many events that followed the Afzal Guru protest on 10 February happened a few weeks ago, when the media pounced on a statement by JNU professor Nivedita Menon which said, “Everyone knows that India is illegally occupying Kashmir. Everybody accepts [it] […] The map of India in foreign publications like Time and Newsweek show a different map of Kashmir. These copies of the magazines always create a lot of controversy and are censored and destroyed. When the whole world is talking about India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir, then we should think the pro-azaadi slogans in the valley are justified.”

After reading about Kunan Poshpora, Menon’s statement seems like a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes to me. Everyone is telling us the Emperor is wearing clothes –our friends, our family, the media, the government. All of us are looking at the same thing. Some of us convince ourselves that we can see clothes. But many of us also don’t see them. So why do so few of us actually say this out aloud? What do you see when you think of Kashmir?

Sneha Rajaram is writer-at-large at the online women’s magazine The Ladies Finger.

Court directs Delhi Police to file action taken report on criminal complaint against Owaisi

New Delhi: The Delhi Police was on Tuesday directed by a court here to file an action taken report (ATR) on a criminal complaint seeking registration of FIR against AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi for alleged offences of sedition and causing enmity between different groups.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Munish Markan asked the SHO of Karawal Nagar police station through the DCP (North-East Delhi) to file the report detailing the action taken on the plea on 7 May.

Asaduddin Owaisi. PTIAsaduddin Owaisi. PTI

Asaduddin Owaisi. PTI

The complaint filed by Swaraj Janata Party’s national president Brijesh Chand Shukla, alleged that on 13 March, Owaisi had voluntarily said that “even if somebody puts a knife at me, I will not say ‘Bharat Mata ki jai'” and his expression showed “disaffection and includes disloyalty and all feeling of enmity”.

During the arguments, advocate Rajesh Kumar, appearing for the complainant, said the matter comes under the definition of section 124A (sedition) of IPC as the statement made by Owaisi showed his disloyalty and disaffection towards the nation.

The complaint sought a direction to the police to lodge an FIR against Owaisi for the alleged offences under sections 124A (sedition) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race etc) of IPC.

The plea alleged that the act of Hyderabad MP showed he was not loyal to India and was trying to harm the country’s reputation and his statement comes under the definition of sedition charge.

“…It is correct that our Constitution does not permit to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ but the Constitution also does not allow to say ‘koi meri gardan par churi rakh de tab bhi mai Bharat Mata ki jai nahi bolunga’ (even if somebody puts a knife at my neck, I will not say Bharat Mata ki jai),” it alleged.

The complainant said he had filed the complaint in this regard with the Delhi Police but no action was taken and thereafter, he approached the court.

A public interest litigation (PIL) has also been filed in the Bombay High Court by a Pune-based social activist urging it to take legal action against both Owaisi and AIMIM MLA Warris Pathan for refusing to chant ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’.

The PIL urged the court to order an inquiry into the speeches made by the duo in the recent past in which they had allegedly showed dishonour to the motherland by such remarks.

PTI

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