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Government notifies Disabilities Bill

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

No intention to ban cash transaction under ‘cashless concept’, says govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>State government has submitted before the Goa Human Rights Commission (GHRC) that it has not made any attempt to ban cash transaction under the ‘cashless society concept’, but instead wanted to facilitate business through alternate mode of payments.The government’s statement comes in response to a complaint filed by social activist Aires Rodrigues with the GHRC against a government circular, issued on November 30, seeking to make all business establishments in the state to opt for cashless transaction.”No attempts have been made to cut or stop payments using cash. State government is merely facilitating alternative modes of payment,” Commissioner, Commercial Taxes department Dipak Bandekar stated in the affidavit filed before GHRC on Thursday.The case was adjourned till January 23, 2017, for next the hearing.In the affidavit, Bandekar further stated that the circular of November 30 was only an appeal for people to go for electronic payment. In his complaint filed earlier this month, Rodrigues said that “in absolute and gross violation of human rights, Goa government had very high-handedly and without application of mind decided that the state go cashless.” The complaint also pointed out that use of cash is not prohibited anywhere in the world, even in those countries where substantial transactions happen through cash-less avenues.

Cops frequently flout Supreme Court rules intended to prevent custodial deaths, says HRW report

Indian police often flout Supreme Court rules intended to prevent custodial deaths and “routinely violate” domestic and international laws around arrest and detention, says a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

At least 591 people died in police custody in India between 2010 and 2015, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, of which the authorities reported 97 custody deaths in 2015. The police records list only six as due to physical assault by police; 34 are listed as suicides, 11 as deaths due to illness, nine as natural deaths, and 12 as deaths during hospitalisation or treatment.

“While investigations were ordered by courts, human rights commissions, or other authorities in some cases, Human Rights Watch is not aware of a single case in which a police official was convicted for a custodial death between 2010 and 2015,” the 114-page report, titled ‘Bound by Brotherhood: India’s Failure to End Killings in Police Custody’ and released on 19 December, states.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

It is based on interviews of more than 70 witnesses, family members of victims, lawyers, civil society activists, and journalists in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh, and the cities of New Delhi and Mumbai, and investigations into 17 custodial deaths between 2010 and 2015. It found that in each of the 17 cases investigated the police did not follow proper arrest procedures, making the suspect more vulnerable to abuse.

“Police abuses continue despite changes in laws and guidelines and the promise of police reforms since 1997,” the international rights group says.

The compliance with the six binding directives to the central and state governments to undertake police reforms as contained in the landmark Supreme Court decision of Prakash Singh versus Union of India remains “low”.

According to government data, in the vast majority of cases investigated — 67 of 97 deaths in custody in 2015 — the police either failed to produce the suspects before a magistrate within 24 hours as required by law, or the suspects died within a day of being arrested.

Supreme Court rules set out in the case of DK Basu versus West Bengal in 1997 and incorporated into the amended Code of Criminal Procedure call for the police to identify themselves clearly when making an arrest; prepare a memo of arrest with the date and time of arrest that is signed by an independent witness and countersigned by the arrested person; and ensure that next of kin are informed of the arrest and the place of detention. However, in practice, these rules have not prevented the worst of custodial abuses, the report argues.

Moreover, although the law stipulates an inquiry into every custodial death by a judicial magistrate, these were conducted in only 31 of the 97 custodial deaths reported in 2015. In 26 cases, there was not even an autopsy of the deceased. Last year, police registered cases against fellow police officers in only 33 of the 97 custodial deaths. The Supreme Court has often said that bringing evidence against the police in case of custodial crimes is an uphill task because the police feel “bound by their ties of brotherhood”— the report quotes Satyabrata Pal, a former member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

In some of the cases, inquiries are conducted by an executive magistrate — who are part of the executive branch of government like the police and hence more susceptible to pressure — instead of a judicial magistrate.

“The state relies on Section 197 (immunity from prosecution to all public officials for actions they undertake in carrying out their official duties unless the government approves the prosecution) heavily to protect the police officials,” lawyer Trideep Pais told HRW. “They are on the same side.”

“Activists are concerned about NHRC’s April 2010 notification to state governments that in cases of custodial deaths where no foul play was alleged, it was not mandatory for the inquiry to be conducted by a judicial magistrate because victims’ families are often unable to challenge police accounts of deaths in custody,” HRW says.

Though the NHRC — established in 1993 — has set guidelines for arrest and detention it remains beset with problems that limit its capacity to deal with custodial abuses.

The investigation division of the NHRC — that reviews cases of custodial deaths — is composed of serving police officials who do not have additional human rights training and tend to protect their erring colleagues.

The 2006 amended Protection of Human Rights Act remains problematic in certain aspects. The amended Act does not include lifting the one-year “statute of limitations” on NHRC investigations — a time limit that has been termed as “unrealistic” by rights groups given the ignorance of many victims of their rights under the Act and the difficulties that face them in obtaining counsel.

The national human rights body is still not authorised to investigate human rights violations by the armed forces and cannot independently make public their findings until the report is placed before Parliament. It is “tightly controlled” financially by the central government and reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs — “the same governmental department responsible for internal security, including police and other law and order officials, therefore undermining its independence”, among other constraints of the NHRC listed by the HRW.

India has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and signed the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment — both of which prohibit torture and other ill-treatment by law enforcement authorities under international human rights law.

The 2016 report has listed a number of recommendations addressed to the Indian Parliament, state and central government ministries, police, civil society organisations, foreign donors and general public, as listed by the international rights group.

The last report on India was published in 2009 by HRW titled Broken System: Dysfunction, Abuse, and Impunity in the Indian Police.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 14:42 IST

‘Hundreds die’ in India police custody, says rights group report

Some 600 people died in police custody in India between 2010 and 2015, says a rights group report.

SC fiat to Centre, states to properly implement SC/ST Act

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court has directed the Centre and state governments to strictly enforce provisions of the law while asking other competent authorities to discharge their duties to protect the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to attain the constitutional goal of equality for all citizens. The apex court delivered the judgement after holding that there has been a failure on the part of authorities concerned in complying with the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and Rules due to which the “laudable object” of it is defeated by their “indifferent attitude”.”The constitutional goal of equality for all the citizens of this country can be achieved only when the rights of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are protected. The abundant material on record proves that the authorities concerned are guilty of not enforcing the provisions of the Act. The travails of the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes continue unabated,” a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said. “We are satisfied that the central government and state governments should be directed to strictly enforce the provisions of the Act and we do so,” the bench, also comprising justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said.Further, the bench directed the concerned national commissions to discharge their duties to protect the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It requested the National Legal Services Authority to formulate appropriate schemes to spread awareness and provide free legal aid to members of SCs and STs. “We have carefully examined the material on record and we are of the opinion that there has been a failure on the part of the concerned authorities in complying with the provisions of the Act and rules. The laudable object with which the Act had been made is defeated by the indifferent attitude of the authorities,” it said.”It is true that the state governments are responsible for carrying out the provisions of the Act as contended by the counsel for the Union of India. At the same time, the central government has an important role to play in ensuring the compliance of the provisions of the Act,” the bench said.It passed the verdict on a petition filed by National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, which was aggrieved by the “non-implementation” of the provisions of the Act and had sought directions for forthwith setting up special officers, nodal officers and protection cell as required under the Act. It had also sought directions for competent authorities to identify and notify atrocity-prone areas and to take appropriate action in accordance with law immediately and also to frame a rehabilitation package forthwith.

Parliament passes Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill

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

Rajya Sabha adjourned sine die; Hamid Ansari ask members to introspect

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die on Friday even as Chairman Hamid Ansari expressed strong displeasure over regular disruptions by all sections of the House during the session and asked the members to introspect.Soon after the laying of papers, Ansari adjourned the House sine die. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House.The 241st session of Rajya Sabha, which had commenced on November 16, was a near washout as opposition members continuously disrupted proceedings mainly over the demonetization issue. They were countered vociferously by members of the ruling side on several occasions, including by shouting counter slogans. In his closing remarks, Ansari said he had “fervently hoped” that he would not have to repeat what he had said at the conclusion of the 221st session in December 2013, but “My hopes stand belied”.”Regular and continuous disruptions characterised this Session. The symbolism of dignified protests, so essential for orderly conduct of Parliamentary proceedings, was abandoned,” the Chairman said.This, he said, deprived members of the opportunity to seek accountability of the Executive through questions and discussions on matters of public interest.”The prohibition in the Rules about shouting slogans, displaying posters and obstructing proceedings by leaving their assigned places was consistently ignored by all sections of the House,” Ansari said, adding that “peace prevailed only when obituaries were read”.The Chairman said that “all sections” of the House need to introspect on the distinction between dissent, disruption and agitation.Earlier, the members observed silence as mark of respect to condole death of former Rajya Sabha member V Ramanathan.The House of Elders functioned on the first day of the Session and had a “useful discussion” on demonetization on November 16 and November 24, which remained inconclusive. Rajya Sabha also passed, on December 14, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014.

Amid winter of discontent, Rajya Sabha passes Disabilities Bill

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> For the first time since the Winter session began on November 16, Rajya Sabha saw a legislative action as it passed the Disabilities Bill in a cordial atmosphere which did not last long as the Opposition again created uproar, leading to early adjournment for the day. In the Lok Sabha, however, stand-off between the government and the Opposition resulted in a washout again. The Rajya Sabha witnessed unusual bonhomie and meeting of minds over the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, with both the Opposition and the government agreeing to pass it, setting aside temporarily their confrontation over demonetizationand other issues like alleged misuse of office Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju with regard to a power project in Arunachal Pradesh.The foundation for it was laid as soon as the House met for the day, with members cutting across party lines pitching for immediate passage of the “crucial” legislation without any discussion.Among those who pressed for it were Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, BSP chief Mayawati, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and SP leader Naresh Agarwal.Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi agreed to immediately take up the bill which stipulates up to two-year jail term and a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons.Expressing happiness over the rare unanimity on display, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien decided to set aside the Zero Hour to take up the bill. However, he did not agree to passage of the bill without any debate, saying there could be some members who would like to speak on it, particularly those who have moved amendments.Accordingly, the process to pass the bill took place partly during the Zero Hour and partly in post-lunch session.However, as soon as the bill was passed, uproar was again witnessed as Congress members raked up the demonetization issue and Rijiju matter.This led to adjournment of the House till tomorrow at around 2.45 pm.The Disabilities Bill, passed just three days before the Parliament session ends, aims at securing and enhancing the rights and entitlements of disabled persons. It provides for imprisonment of at least six months up to two years, along with a fine ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons. The bill also gives effect to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and related matters. Earlier during Zero Hour, Azad said priority should be given to the passage of the Bill. “This should be passed without any discussion.”He said if the Bill is not passed today, it cannot be taken up by the Lok Sabha for passage in the current session ending Friday. “You can take it up right now (and) pass it straight away without any discussion,” he said.Similar views were expressed by Mayawati and Agarwal, leading to consideration of the legislation which was moved by Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot.During the short debate, some members pointed out that the reservation for the disabled should be against the cadre strength and not vacancies.In response to some amendments moved by K K Ragesh and Yechury (both CPI-M), Gehlot said while framing rules efforts would be made to ensure that four per cent reservation is granted against cadre strength.Yechury also pointed out that the original bill had a provision of 5 per cent reservation for the disabled, but the amendment was for 4 per cent only.To this, Gehlot said the bill has raised the quota from the prevailing 3 per cent to 4 per cent.The process of passing the bill was still underway when the clock struck noon and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Hamid Ansari came in to conduct the Question Hour. Some members said the process of consideration and passage of the Bill be continued.However, Ansari said Question Hour should be taken up. Meanwhile, Congress members were seen on their feet, including its Deputy Leader Anand Sharma, with some of them being heard raising slogans over allegations against Rijiju. Ansari insisted on taking up the Question Hour and told the members that there cannot be a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character. However as the protests continued, he adjourned the House till 2 pm.When the House re-convened, rare unanimity was witnessed again and the Disability bill was passed.After the Bill was passed, Anand Sharma (Cong) raised the issue of allegations against Rijiju, which led protests from the members from the Treasury benches. Kurien told Sharma: “There is rule, there is a procedure.Go by that. You cannot suo motu raise an allegation.” Members of the Congress and the BJP indulged in shouting slogans and counter-slogans in the House. Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the allegations against Rijiju are “totally false and fabricated. … I dare you for a debate on this.” Particularly addressing the Congress members, he said, “Your party is misleading you.” Kurien told Sharma that to raise an allegation, a member has to give prior intimation to the Chairman.Sharma said he was merely referring to the media reports, which was not accepted by the Deputy Chairman. Amidst constant din, Kurien adjourned the House for the day. In the Lok Sabha, the three-week deadlock over demonetisation issue deepened with the government accusing the Opposition of making attempts to fail the “pro-poor” decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, inviting a furious response.Congress members were also angry over Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s decision to allow Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) to raise the issue of AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal scam, ignoring their leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s plea to have his say. Sonia Gandhi too was seen protesting against Mahajan’s decision.Kharge shouted angrily as to why the BJD member was allowed to speak as he repeatedly banged the bench.With members of Congress, TMC and others raising slogans in the Well, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar fired a fresh salvo at the Opposition, citing a sting operation aired on a news channel to allege that Congress, SP and BSP leaders had joined hands to “finish off” the government’s efforts to bolster the white economy.Kumar insisted that the ruling side was ready for a discussion on demonetisation but the Opposition was running away and disrupting proceedings.”It is a very sad day. The leader (Kharge) of the Opposition is challenging the Speaker. He cannot do that. It is very unfortunate. We are always ready for discussion,” Kumar said and then cited the sting to attack the Opposition.”They have become ‘note-jugaad’ (managing currency) parties. It is a conspiracy to finish off what Modi has brought for the poor,” he said.Jagdambika Pal (BJP) claimed that the Opposition would be exposed. “It is a matter of shame that the Congress which participated in freedom struggle has become a commission agents,” he said amid vociferous slogan-shouting by Opposition.Opposition members were also heard raising slogans against Union Minister Kiren Rijiju over an alleged case of corruption in an Arunachal pradesh hydal project.With ruckus continuing, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day.

Parliament logjam,: With 3 days left in Winter Session, Disability Bill still stuck in Rajya Sabha

The logjam in Parliament has wiped out almost the entire Winter Session, and repeated disruptions over the demonetisation debate mean we go into the final three days of the session with precious little having been achieved. Protests and sloganeering were witnessed throughout the month-long Winter Session. According to PRS Legislative, as Firstpost had earlier reported, the productivity of Rajya Sabha was 20 percent over the last 30 days, while that of Lok Sabha was 14 percent.

The fate of many significant legislative bills are still stuck, including the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Bill, 2016. The bill, though listed for business four times, did not come up for discussion even once, reported The DNA. Candle light marches and rallies pushing for the passage of the Disability Bill were reported from various parts of the country.

Earlier, Sports Minister Vijay Goel was quoted as saying that he will personally talk to Opposition for the quick passage of the bill. “We are very close to passing the bill in Parliament. I will myself talk to Parliamentary affairs minister and if need arises, with Opposition too, and request them to pass the bill first and then debate on demonetisation,” he told PTI.

Disabaled Rights Group (DRG) activists at Solidarity Rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

Disabaled Rights Group (DRG) activists at Solidarity Rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

The Indian Express reported that while the 1995 Act recognised seven disabilities, the 2014 one covered 19 conditions. However, the amended bill covers 21 conditions. The government has proposed 119 amendments to the 2014 bill, the report added.

“In the Bill, disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept, and the types of disabilities have also been increased, from the existing seven to 21. The Centre will have the power to add more types of disabilities to it,” Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot told PTI.

According to PRS Legislative, “Persons with at least 40 percent of a disability are entitled to certain benefits, such as reservations in education and employment, preference in government schemes.” Enhancing the rights and entitlements of people with disabilities, the bill takes the “disabled-friendly access to all public buildings, hospitals, modes of transport, polling stations, etc” into account.

The amended Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, proposes imprisonment of at least six months to two years, along with a fine ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 5 lakh, for those discriminating against differently-abled persons, according to PTI. The bill proposes strengthening the office of chief commissioner and state commissioners for persons with disabilities which will act as regulatory bodies.

The bill proposes to increase reservation for those with benchmark disabilities in government jobs and higher education institutes from the current three percent to four percent. It also provides for penalties for offences committed against people with disabilities.

According to The Indian Express, the legislation has been pending in the Rajya Sabha since February 2014. The report added that the 1995 law had 3 percent reservation for the disabled, which was raised to 5 percent in 2014. But the proposed amendments reduces it to 4 percent. The report also added, “The proposed amendments do away with the provision in the 2014 bill for strong national and state commissions for persons with disabilities”.

Javed Abidi, disability activist, called the bill a game change and wrote in the Hindustan Times, “The disability sector has been waiting for this law patiently for the last several years. Just its making took over five years and seemed like a never ending saga.”

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 22:24 IST

Pak Army has licence to kill us, rape us, still UN is silent, accuses Baloch activist Naela Baloch

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing the Pakistan Army of having the licence to ‘kill, rape and torture Baloch people and to take out their organs to sell them, Baloch Kurd liberation activist and World Baloch Women’s Forum president Naela Quadri Baloch has demanded that the United Nations, which has ‘turned blind and has closed its ears and mouth’, to wake up and listen what is going on in Balochistan.”The Pakistani Army has (a) licence to kill us, licence to rape us, licence to torture, licence to take out organs and sell them, because the Pakistani Army is involved in the organ trade of the Baloch people with the help of the Edhi Foundation; and, Pakistan is running rape cells, where Baloch women are abducted, kept and raped. Pakistan is doing all kinds of those atrocities that a sane human mind cannot imagine,” Naela told ANI.Stating that Pakistan is committing this genocide of the Baloch people with the full support of China as a form of ‘ethnic cleansing’, Naela said: “The International Day of Human Rights was announced by the UN, but it is silent despite the atrocities and the level of genocide going on in Balochistan by the Pakistan Army and the Pakistani establishment. It’s like a kind of situation where Baloch people have no rights that even your animals have.”Buttressing her claims, the Baloch activist said, “We have found more than 100 mass graves with more than 100 bodies in each, and doctors say they were alive when they were buried in those mass graves.”They are burning Baloch villages and towns, it is a situation that no human heart can see and keep silent, she said, adding, “But we are surprised and we are worried about the legal status of the UN now.”She said that what is going on in a part of the world (Balochistan) is very much needed for connecting the Indian Ocean to the Central Asia; it’s very much needed to be a route; it’s very much needed for people’s trade; and it’s very much needed for the economic corridor (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor-CPEC). “It is not a corridor; it is our home; it is a corridor for outsider; it is a corridor for occupiers and passersby; for us it is our home,” she said.Naela said, “The United Nations is blind and has closed its ears and mouth to what?s going on in this part of the world. And this is the seventieth 10th December that the Baloch people are facing, and the UN is silent. So, on this day, on the behalf of the Baloch nation, on this International Day of Human Rights, we demand the UN to please wake up and to please listen what is going on in Balochistan.”Yes, you are the United Nations, a nation of 40 million people, one of the biggest nations on the earth is living without a country and needs you, said Naela, adding: “A nation is going to be finished from the face of the earth, so we are an endangered nation.””You (UN) work for the endangered species and animals, the world is working for them but what if we are endangered? So, the Baloch nation is going to be finished from the face of the earth and the U.N. is silent and the international community is silent, it’s a very-very worrisome situation for us,” she added.Meanwhile, to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10 (Saturday), Baloch political activists across world, including the UK, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Germany and many other European nations held protests against the atrocities committed by the Pakistan establishment on their people back home.It was on December 10, 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.In Geneva (Switzerland), Abdul Bugti of Baloch Republican Party said, “The objective of the protest demonstration is to highlight the abuses in Balochistan on this occasion. There are massive human rights abuses going on in Balochistan by the ‘terror-state’ of Pakistan, its army and intelligence agencies.””They are engaged in killing and enforced disappearances of Baloch civilians on daily basis. We have been highlighting these issues and we want international community to stop Baloch genocide,” he added.

Union minister Ramdas Athawale bats for transgenders’ reservation in government jobs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union minister Ramdas Athawale has batted for reservation for transgenders in government jobs on the lines of quota fixed for disabled people.”They (transgenders) are also humans and they should be given reservation. The quota for transgenders should be fixed similar to what is fixed for the disabled,” he said.There is three per cent quota for the differently-abled people.The government had introduced Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, in Lok Sabha during the Monsoon Session. The bill seeks to define the term transgender and prohibits discrimination against the community.There were reports that in draft of this bill, the government had proposed bringing transgender under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category, which was rejected by the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).The bill has now been referred to a parliamentary panel, which has invited public suggestions to involve the community in making of the law which seeks to protect their rights.The bill confers the right upon transgenders to be recognised as such and also grants them the right to “self- perceived” gender identity.According to the 2011 Census, India has six lakh people belonging to the transgender community.The community is among the most marginalised in the country because they don’t fit into the categories of the two recognised genders of men and women.They face issues ranging from social exclusion and discrimination to lack of education and medical facilities, and unemployment.

A marathon celebration for children’s cause

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was an eventful Monday morning for 15-year-old Poornima who was among the 5,000 children that participated in ‘Run for less & under privileged children’ to mark Children’s Day. “It’s our day today,” the girl says as she tries to catch her breath.Organised by the NGO ‘Prayas’, the run was an initiative to create awareness about children rights. Besides school children there were at least 1,000 under-privileged children and homeless people.10-year-old Kumkum, an orphan, has been living with Prayas since last six years. “She came to us when she was just a kid and now she is running for the rights of children like her. I am glad that she has matured well and now think of others needs as well,” says her mentor at the NGO.Several other children like Kumkum on Monday gathered at the Central Secretariat ground in south Delhi’s Panchari Puri area to celebrate Children’s Day. The marathon was followed by some colourful performance by the underprivileged children.”We danced on different Bollywood numbers. I’m so excited as this is my first public performance,” says eight-year-old Iram, another orphan living with the NGO.Reshma, 12, was another enthusiast who participated and enjoyed every moment of it. “I love dancing, so, I decided why not just give my best dance performance today. I love freestyle dance, which I have learnt it watching on television,” she said with sparkling eyes. Reshma is another marginalised child living with Prayas.”As we celebrate Children’s Day on 14th November we thought marathon is a wonderful way to celebrate such a beautiful day. We wanted everyone from all walks of life to participate in this cause of ours, and create awareness about basic rights of children,” said Amod K Kanth, General Secretary of the NGO and former Chairman of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights.At Prayas, as many as 50,000 marginalised children, youth and women addressing multiple issues are living and learning multiple skills to change their lives, he added.Besides, volunteers from corporate sector also ran with the marginalised children and performed in an effort to make them feel special”I voluntarily came here to run with these children and had a wonderful day with them here,” says Nitish Gulati, a corporate employee.Several prominent personalities including Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Bollywood actors Randeep Hooda and Adil Hussain and Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Verma were present at the event to encourage the children.”There is a need to start national awareness campaign for child rights and events like this helps to motivate people to work for the cause,” Sisodia said during the event.

Shiv Sena calls for Human Rights violation case against Karnataka police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Shiv Sena called for Human Rights violation case to be filed against the Karnataka police on Monday, for the “inhuman” treatment meted out to those taking part in a ‘Black Day’ protest rally in Belgaum on ‘Karnataka Rajyotsava Day’ on November 1.”Karnataka police and political goons in the state have been terrorising Marathi people staying at the border. Like every other year, the inhuman treatment meted out to those observing ‘Black Day’ by the police cannot just be condemned. A Human Rights violation case needs to be filed against the police,” the Sena said in an editorial in the party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.It said that Maharashtra government should take the lead in filing the case. In a veiled dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Sena said that those vying for an Independent Balochistan do not see the 60-year struggle of the people living at the border of Maharashtra and Karnataka. “Where is Anna Hazare now ? If he would have fasted for justice to the Marathi speaking people, he would have earned the respect of the martyred,” it said.It questioned under which law is Karnataka police committing atrocities against those who want to be a part of Maharashtra.Youths and activists of Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES), a regional outfit in Karnataka, were arrested for taking part in a ‘Black Day’ protest rally in Belgaum on Karnataka Rajyotsava Day on November 1. MES leaders have alleged their activists are being beaten and tortured by Karnataka Police. MES observes Black Day on November 1, which is celebrated across Karnataka as Kannada Rajyotsava Day, the day on which the state was formed. The MES wants 814 villages, where the Marathi-speaking population is dominant, to be integrated with Maharashtra. In its report 50 years ago, the Centre-appointed Mahajan Commission (under former Chief Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan) had recommended that these villages remain in Karnataka. Maharashtra Government has been fighting the case in the Supreme Court for nearly 12 years to get Belgaum and adjoining areas back from Karnataka.

Govt mulling amending rules to simplify granting of land to forest-dwellers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To ease the process of granting land titles to forest-dwellers, the government is mulling reducing the strength of quorum for gram sabha meetings that consider the claims of villagers for land deeds under the Forest Rights Act.As per the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Rules, 50% of members of a gram sabha should be present to form the quorum for hearing such claims. “It is often difficult to form the quorum, which in turn delays the process of granting forest land to villagers on which they are traditionally dependent. Also, in the process, genuine claimants suffer. So it was strongly felt that the strength of quorum should be reduced,” a senior Tribal Affairs Ministry official said.When the rules were framed in 2007, the requirement of quorum was two-thirds of all members of the gram sabha.As such quorum was often difficult to meet, in September 2012, the rule was amended to reduce the quorum strength to 50% of members. Under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, traditional forest dwellers make claims for forest rights to get the title of the land on which they are dependent. As per the rules, a forest-dweller files his claim for land title to the gram sabha which after examining it, if found authentic, refers to the Sub-Divisional Level Committee (SDLC).The SDLC further ascertains the veracity of the claims. The functions of the SDLC also include hearing petitions from persons, state agencies, aggrieved by the resolutions of the gram sabhas, raise awareness among forest-dwellers about the objectives and procedures laid down under the Act and in the rules. It also ensures that the gram sabha meetings are conducted in free, open and fair manner with requisite quorum.The SDLC then refers it to the District Level Committee which considers and finally approve the claims.

The minority reports

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier this week, reports surfaced of a Rajasthan man who allegedly drugged and forced his wife to sleep with a friend to pay off a gambling debt. Later, when charged with rape and cheating, he claimed immunity under the Islamic concept of nikah halala.Halala refers to a practice where if a divorced couple wants to get back together, the woman must first consummate a marriage with a second man, and can only go back to her first husband if the second one either divorces her or dies. Except in this case, the couple had continued living together even after the husband had divorced her using triple talaq.In an environment where the air is thick with talk of a Uniform Civil Code, it is cases like these that arouse passions on both sides of the debate. The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) is currently fighting a case in the Supreme Court to ban practices such as triple talaq and halala and to bring about reforms in Muslim personal law they say go against women’s rights.Leaders from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, have framed the argument for an UCC in terms of women’s dignity and equal rights under law. However, almost no politicians from the ruling party have addressed the fears of minorities about possible dilution of their religious and cultural practices under a UCC.The idea of an UCC, of course, goes back to the very beginnings of the Indian republic, and perhaps even before that.During the deliberations of the Constituent Legislative Assembly, the idea was first raised by a section of the writers of the Indian Constitution but was rejected, primarily by Hindu leaders, over fears it would wreck the traditional family structures.It finally found a home, not in the enforceable part of the Constitution but in the Directive Principles, which essentially left it to the states to resolved it. Dr BR Ambedkar, widely credited with the framing of the Constitution, resigned as Law Minister over the failure of the codification of the Hindu personal law.Article 44 of the Indian Constitution on UCC states that “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India,” but there has been practically no movement on that front from anyone; Goa, which joined the Indian Union in 1961, retained a common civil law that had been put in place by the Portuguese government.”At the end, every law has to have acceptance in the society. Its implementation is based on that,” said Justice JS Bhatia, a former Bombay High Court judge.But more than mere acceptance, the lack of a push for UCC has been driven primarily by a lack of clarity on what the standard will be, leading to fear among minority communities that the ways of the majority will be imposed on them.A landmark reversalThe year 1985 marked the turning of the tide for UCC, the year that it re-entered the national mindspace, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling and subsequent political decisions. Sixty-three-year-old Shah Bano had been divorced by her husband of forty years verbally by uttering talaq thrice. Destitute, she finally won a maintenance suit against him in the Supreme Court. However, this was also seen as an encroachment into the religiously-sanctioned practices of a minority community. Under pressure from Islamic orthodoxy, the then Rajiv Gandhi government overturned the apex court’s ruling by passing the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. This then led to further allegations that the Congress Party under the otherwise reforms-minded PM continued to indulge in so-called ‘minority appeasement’.Now, with the Law Commission recommending that the government study anew the possibility of enacting a Uniform Civil Code, the dominant discourse has shifted from maintenance/alimony to the very practice of triple talaq itself.The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), however, has alleged that the UCC is being imposed on the pretext of the women’s group petitioning the Supreme Court on triple talaq.The whole UCC brouhaha was kicked off after the apex court recommended that the government should take a look at implementing it while deciding a divorce case for a Christian couple that had to wait for two years under the Canon law.Father Nigel Barrett, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Bombay said, “In the case of the community, civil law takes precedence over Canon law. In the case of the two-year period for divorce, that is for both men and women and the idea is that they can reconcile. A committee is working on it to see if it should be a one-year period.”Many faiths, many lawsWhat has been missed in the entire debate is that an UCC will affect not just Muslims, but other minorities as well.Besides personal laws of other religions like Parsis, there are different customs or laws even in the Hindu community. There is the matriarchal system (Marumakkathayam law) of marriage in parts of Kerala, which is also followed by Muslims.”Besides the matriarchal law, the tribals have their own protective laws,” says Justice Bhatia. “The government will have to place before its people how it envisions UCC.”He adds that the government must tell citizens in a transparent way what its vision for the UCC is. “It is easy to say but difficult to make a uniform law,” he saysAlready, other minorities are voicing their concerns.BH Antia, partner at Mulla & Mulla & Craigie Blunt & Caroe advocates, considered a conservative voice in the Parsi community is one such, says “One must remember that no law is perfect without an exception. So generally, the questions (in the Law Commissions questionnaire) are OK but we have to provide exceptions in some cases.”Among the prominent exceptions he argues for Parsis are adoption and entry into fire temples. “The number of members of the Parsi community is less than 70,000. Under those circumstances, if there is a uniform code of adoption, then more non-Parsis will be adopted and the original Parsis will be submerged. Moreover, Parsis believe that Parsis are born as Parsis and not created by adoption by someone. Therefore, the present Parsi law does not allow adoption which as provided under Hindu law,” he says.He is also opposed to entry to Parsi Fire Temples to non-Parsis, because it is already restricted to Parsi Zoroastrians who wear Sudreh and Kusti.Interestingly, the Parsi community had, along with Muslims, opposed the Adoption Bill in the 1970s when the Indira Gandhi government tried to introduce it. “The community, along with Muslims, opposed it back then,” said Jehangir Patel, editor of Parsiana, a community magazine.Like Parsis, Muslims too are averse to adoption. The Muslim community, which has been most vocal on UCC, also opposes a common law on other issues, such as polygamy, rights of women—on which the UCC questionnaire was based—other aspects of marriage, and succession, among others.”They talk of rights of women but they have not studied Islam. The kind of rights Islam provides, no other community does,” says Maulana Ather Ali, member of the executive committee of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). “When there are so many issues like inflation, terrorism, unemployment staring at the nation, what is the pressing hurry to have UCC? At the end of the day, it is only a directive principle that encourages the state to have a common civil code!”As for the future, Ali says the government needs to first produce a blueprint of the UCC. “If the best practices are to be had of each religion, let them give an outline first,” he saysSikh, Jain and Buddhist communities, all of whom are governed by Hindu law, have also sought separate codification. While most of their present practices are in line with the law, community leaders have asked for more clarification from the government before they can give more inputs on codification.Within Jainism, says Dr Bipin Doshi, founder of the chair in Jainology at University of Mumbai, “In case of Santhara, the communities tradition is in sync with most religions. In case of Bal Diksha, there could be problem.”Similarly, in Kerala, Marumakkathayam, a matriarchal and matrilineal system is being dismantled, says Suresh Nair, a Mumbai businessman with roots in Kerala.Other communities, too, have apprehensions, including Sikhs who worry whether the Saptapadi marriage system will overtake the Anand Marriage Act. Others who wonder if burying their dead will change to cremation, or still others who fear the Islamic nikah will be replaced by Hindu rituals for marriages.Let there be reforms firstIrrespective of their stance, those troubled by their community’s personal laws say these should be reformed first, irrespective of whether an UCC is enacted.”We are against the Uniform Civil Code. Muslim personal law first needs to be codified like other personal laws of different communities,” says Zakia Soman, co-convenor of the BMMA that has filed the petition against triple talaq and polygamy, among other issues, and has also taken up the case of the Rajasthan woman who was raped by her husband’s friend.”If the laws are codified, most of the things will anyway be implemented that women are not getting as their rights. They will be getting rights that are in harmony with what Constitution has guaranteed them,” says Soman, adding that the UCC issue will only delay the codification process.Goolrookh Gupta, member of the Parsi community was of the other view. Fighting a case against her community for the rights of access for women outside marriage to enter the Tower of Silence, she said “The Uniform Civil Code is important for our country. With so many religions, once we get that (UCC), no trust or head priest or religious organisation with orthodox views can take advantage of the situation and be unfair to women. Gender equality is very important.”

Russia fails to win re-election to U.N. Human Rights Council | Reuters

Russia fails to win re-election to U.N. Human Rights Council | Reuters

Updated: Oct 28, 2016 22:26 IST

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Judicial, police custody deaths highest in Uttar Pradesh: NHRC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh has registered highest number of cases of custodial deaths in the country between October 2015 and September this year, with as many as 401 deaths taking place in judicial custody and 27 in policy custody, the National Human Rights Commission today said. “Uttar Pradesh, with 401 cases topped the list of cases of judicial custody deaths as well as in the list of cases of deaths in police custody with 27 cases,” NHRC Chairperson Justice HL Dattu was quoted as saying in a statement.Earlier, addressing a press conference to mark the foundation day of the rights watchdog, he said since its inception in 1993, the NHRC has come a long way by addressing several issues of human rights violations as well as giving inputs on key legislations impacting human rights. The NHRC had faced criticism from a section of civil society and NGOs for its report on the on-spot inquiry of migration issue in Kairana in Uttar Pradesh which is going to polls next year.Dattu said, the Commission “has received the response of the Uttar Pradesh government on the Kairana issue, and the report would be placed before the full commission, which would discuss, deliberate and take the final decision in it.” “Over a lakh complaints have been received in the Commission which indicates not only the increasing faith of the people in its functioning but also their awareness about the importance of promotion and protection of human rights,” the statement said.”During the period (October 2015 and September 2016), maximum 32,498 complaints were registered against police, out of which 206 cases were of encounter. Chhattisgarh with 66 encounter cases, topped the list followed by 43 in Assam, 15 in Jharkhand, 10 in Odisha, 7 each in Maharashtra and Meghalaya, 5 each in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur. West Bengal with 11 cases, topped the list of registered cases of encounter by Para-Military forces,” it said.Between October 2015 and September 2016, the NHRC has registered 1,05,664 cases on the basis of complaints, intimation from police and prison authorities etc. and on suo motu basis. The number of cases registered during the period on suo motu basis is 133. During the corresponding period in 2014-15 and 2013-14, it registered 1,17,477 and 1,06,684 cases respectively, it said.”Since October 2015 to September 2016, the Commission has disposed 1,11,295 cases out of which 59,924 had to be dismissed in limini, as these were not in line with the provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act,” it added.During the period, the Commission recommended monetary relief to the tune of Rs 70,93,000 in 380 cases. The public authorities complying with the Commission’s recommendations paid Rs 11,59,56,172 as monetary relief in 410 cases to the victims or their kin. These included cases of the previous year as well as the some cases wherein recommendations were made during 2015-2016.An independent report was prepared and sent to the UN mandated Human Rights Council for the third Universal Periodic Review, the NHRC said.

CBI to seek explanation from its officer over BK Bansal suicide

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will soon seek explanation from its DIG Sanjeev Gautam and his team members in connection with allegations of harassment levelled against them by former DG Corporate Affairs BK Bansal.Sources said the fact-finding committee set under a Joint Director level officer is looking into the allegations of human rights abuse levelled by Bansal, who had committed suicide along with his son in September. Bansal, who was facing graft charges, had ended his life on September 27, nearly two months after his wife and daughter had taken a similar tragic step.In his purported suicide note, Bansal had alleged that Gautam and his team members had harassed his wife and daughter to an extent that they committed suicide. He had alleged that even he was being harassed and wanted to end the life.National Human Rights Commission had also sought explanation from CBI which has been provided to it.

BK Bansal suicide case: CBI to seek explanation from DIG Sanjeev Gautam, team members

BK Bansal suicide case: CBI to seek explanation from DIG Sanjeev Gautam, team members

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New Delhi: CBI will soon seek explanation from its DIG Sanjeev Gautam and his team members in connection with allegations of harassment levelled against them by former DG Corporate Affairs BK Bansal.

File image of BK Bansal. CNN-News18

File image of BK Bansal. CNN-News18

Sources said the fact-finding committee set under a Joint Director level officer is looking into the allegations of human rights abuse levelled by Bansal, who had committed suicide along with his son last month.

Bansal, who was facing graft charges, had ended his life on 27 September, nearly two months after his wife and daughter had taken a similar tragic step.

In his purported suicide note, Bansal had alleged that Gautam and his team members had harassed his wife and daughter to an extent that they committed suicide. He had alleged that even he was being harassed and wanted to end the life.

National Human Rights Commission had also sought explanation from CBI which has been provided to it.

Maharashtra, Gujarat leads in murders of RTI activists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite directions from the government to protect RTI activists, there is no let up in the attacks on the information seekers across the country. Close on the heels of murder of an RTI activist Bhupendra Vera in Maharashtra on October 15, fresh statistics show that some 311 cases of attacks and harassment cases against RTI activists were reported between October 12, 2005 and October 17, 2016. This also includes murder of 56 information seekers also during the period.Maharashtra tops the list with 52 instances of attacks, including 10 alleged murders and at least two suicides in the last 11 years, followed by Gujarat with 34 incidents, including eight alleged murders and one case of suicide. Last three years have reported 56 such cases, including 16 alleged murders of activists seeking information in public interest.More so, there have been 130 instances of attacks or assaults, including attempts to murder of RTI users, during this period. The total number of persons attacked or assaulted could be more than 150 because more than one person was attacked in some incidents. Again Maharashtra tops this list with 29 incidents, followed by Gujarat (15 incidents), Delhi (12 incidents), Karnataka (10 incidents), Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh (9 incidents each).The popularity of this legislation can be gauged from the fact that since its enactment, 1.75 crore people have used this law seeking information from the government, making it a big interface between public and government.In July last year, Vice President Hamid Ansari had highlighted the phenomenon of attacks on RTI users saying that this shows the vulnerability of information seekers.”Police authorities in states have to be sensitive to this and take effective steps to prevent the occurrence of such incidents. Exemplary punishment of the perpetrators would send a strong message around,” he said.Venkatesh Nayak, Programme Coordinator at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) said the Whistleblowers Protection Act, adopted in 2014 is not equipped to protect RTI users. The amendments to this Bill are pending in the Rajya Sabha.”Under the whistleblower protection law, a citizen will be treated as a whistleblower only if he or she makes a complaint to the competent authority such as the Central Vigilance Commission, about a case of corruption or any offence committed by a public servant,” he said. In a large majority of cases the victims sought information in public interest, even before obtaining it or let alone acting on it. He demanded a new mechanism by empowering the Information Commissions working in sync with other public authorities such as the police, the courts, the Human Rights Commissions, Vigilance Commissions or Lokayuktas to protect RTI users from harm at every stage.58 deathsSince the RTI Act came into force fully in 2005 at least 56 individuals are said to have paid the price of their lives for demanding transparency and accountability in government. 51 murders and 5 suicides linked to the RTI to seek information in public interest. 17 of the RTI users attacked or harassed are women. One woman died while trying to save her RTI-activist father-in-law from a murderous attack in Haryana.

Bhubaneshwar hospital fire: JP Nadda, Dharmendra Pradhan to take stock of situation today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Health Minister J P Nadda and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will arrive in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday to take stock of the fire tragedy at SUM hospital that has claimed 19 lives.Nadda is scheduled to visit the AIIMS to oversee the treatment of the injured and will hold a review meeting with the central and state government officers and AIIMS authorities.On the basis of the preliminary fact-finding report, Odisha government on Tuesday filed two criminal cases alleging negligence in conduct and safety against the hospital and initiated administrative inquiries into the mishap.The Bhubaneswar Commissionerate police have arrested four hospital staff on charges of negligence in conduct and safety.The Odisha Human Rights Commission has also registered a suo motu case over the fire accident and served notices to the state Health Secretary and Director General (Fire Services) to submit a report within three weeks.Some patients who were shifted from SUM Hospital to other hospitals in Bhubaneswar after the fire mishap, are said to be in critical condition and fighting for their life at the ICUs.

Dump questionnaire, says Muslim Personal Board

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

dna Evening Must Reads: Parrikar on surgical strikes, 2 militants killed in Parampore encounter and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1) Earlier army attacked on its own, first ‘surgical strike’ across LoC after govt’s instruction: Manohar ParrikarDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar rejected claims that surgical strikes were undertaken during the UPA regime and asserted that a “major” share of credit for the army action last month goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Speaking at two different events, he said all the 127 crore people of India, including “doubting Thomases”, and the army share and deserve credit for the operation as it was done by the armed forces and not by any political party. Read more…2) Pampore encounter: 56-hour gunbattle comes to an end, two militants killedThe 56-hour gunbattle between security forces and militants holed up in a government building at Pampore on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway ended this afternoon with both the ultras hiding there shot dead. As there were reports of two to three militants present in the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) complex, the security forces had to search all the 50 rooms of the building before calling off the operation, an army official said. “We have recovered bodies of two militants and the search operation at the EDI building in Pampore has been almost completed,” the army official said. Read more…3) World will be in danger if Trump becomes US President: United Nations Human Rights ChiefThe world will be in danger if Republican nominee Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, the top United Nations human rights official said on Wednesday. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein cited Trump’s views on vulnerable communities including minorities and his talk of authorising torture in interrogations, banned under international law, as “deeply unsettling and disturbing”. Read more…4) Pakistan seeks bigger South Asian economic alliance to counter India’s influence in SAARC: ReportPakistan is exploring the possibility of creating a greater South Asian economic alliance to include China, Iran and neighbouring Central Asian republics as part of its bid counter India’s influence in SAARC, a media report said on Wednesday. Dawn News, citing diplomatic observers, said Pakistan is exploring the possibility of creating a greater South Asian economic alliance to counter India’s “controlling hold” on the eight member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Read more…5) Nuclear proliferation linkages active today have Pakistan fingerprints: IndiaHitting out at Pakistan, India has said nuclear proliferation linkages active today have clear “Pakistan fingerprints” and an “unbridled” expansion of fissile material under the nexus between state and non-state actors constitutes the biggest threat to peace. “The biggest threat to peace and stability comes from active promotion of terrorism and the unbridled expansion of fissile material production and delivery systems for nuclear weapons under the shadow of a deeply disturbing and deeply entrenched nexus between state entities and non-state actors,” Siddhartha Nath, Counsellor, Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, said. Read more…

Triple Talaq: Abolishing the practice will grant Muslim men divorce with dignity

While the demand to abolish triple talaq is seen as a Muslim woman’s liberation, it is also a Muslim husband’s need. Under the existing laws, doors of the Indian judiciary are shut to a Muslim husband on this issue. So, the Indian government’s constitutionally consistent position before the Supreme Court on the issue of triple talaq and related issues must be welcomed.

On 7 October, the government told the Supreme Court: “Gender equality and dignity of women are non-negotiable… constitutional values” and “Religious practices cannot be an impediment to rights (available under the constitution).” The government was clear: “practices of triple talaq, polygamy and nikah halala (Nikah halala is marrying a man in order to re-marry a former husband) cannot be regarded as essential part of religion and hence get no protection under fundamental right to religion.”

As per India’s predominantly Hindu social ethos, talaq is viewed as a social stigma, affecting women more adversely than men. Talaq is seen as a stigma also because Islam discourages it. Consequently, when a Muslim husband approaches a Muslim lawyer for advice on divorce, the lawyer dislikes it. Sometimes, Muslim lawyers request Hindu lawyers to offer the needful advice.
For informed legal advice, the Muslim husband is left at a crossroads where two paths are open for him: One, he is already taught to utter triple talaq, allowing the events to unfold; two, approach a cleric and seek his advice either before or after uttering triple talaq. As per both the Indian legal system and Islamic clerics, the Muslim husband has only one path to effect divorce: Triple talaq.

ReutersReuters

The abolition of triple talaq will also empower Muslim husbands to go to courts and obtain divorce with dignity. Reuters

There are two types of triple talaq: One, he can utter triple talaq in one sitting in the presence of two witnesses; two, he can decide to give talaq in three monthly instalments. The first means killing a goat instantly and the second means slow butchering over three months. Muslim husbands who choose the path of monthly installments of talaq land their family members in fake dowry cases.
One legally practical way to end a marriage is for a Muslim to go to court and declare that s/he has left Islam, thereby automatically dissolving the marriage. Such persons are called apostates. In such cases, Islamic clerics prescribe beheading the apostates. So, this path too is not open, also because in the current atmosphere of bogus secularism practiced in India, the Indian state is likely to defend the clerics, not the apostate.

The complication arises because there is no law under which a Muslim husband can approach court for divorce. If a Muslim husband were to do so, his application will be dismissed by courts. India does not have written Muslim personal laws, but there are three Shariah-compliant legislation under which Muslim issues are decided in India.

The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937: Under this law, Muslims can contract marriages and effect divorce through informal means deemed correct by Islamic clerics. A Muslim husband is forced “to give” his own divorce under this law. It is a dehumanising experience for a Muslim husband to do it himself. This 1937 law needs to be replaced by a Universal Bill of Rights for Indian Citizens (Ubric), a new law applicable to all Indian citizens.

The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939: This legislation was brought in to empower Muslim women to seek, not to give, divorce. Under this law, a Muslim woman can get divorce in two ways: First, she can get the dissolution of her marriage by approaching Islamic clerics; or second, she can get divorce by going to a court. Since divorce is disliked in Indian society, most Muslim women – instead of filing a case for divorce –first file a dowry harassment case. Both the 1937 and 1939 laws need to be replaced by Ubric.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986: Under this law, a Supreme Court order to grant alimony to the destitute woman Shah Bano was nullified. This law must be quashed. However, the commonly held view that former husbands should pay for past wives does not meet the democratic tenets of modern age. And no husband and wife, whether Muslim or not, should have any financial or other links after divorce.

However, it is a fact that divorced women are placed in an economically disadvantageous positions and therefore new ideas are needed to aid them. This writer has argued that insurance firms could offer government-mandated maintenance payments after divorce. Couples, Muslim or not, should pay the insurance premium during the course of marriage.
An insurance premium could be part of a bank account maintenance fee. (Such an innovative idea of an insurance pool was mooted within the context of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010. India has already launched a Rs. 1,500-crore national insurance pool for nuclear damages.)

Muslim women have landed in this situation because of personal laws advocated by religious groups such as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and its female version called Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan. Both of them are training Islamic judges and run parallel Shariah courts in India. Both these organisations must be outlawed. We need one Ubric for all.

In short term, the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan looks good to Hindu journalists because it is led by Muslim women and also because of its advocacy against triple talaq. However, it is essentially a Shariah-compliant organisation on numerous issues and poses a long-term threat to India’s democratic values by running a parallel legal system in the country.

In the context of the issue under discussion, the abolition of triple talaq will also empower Muslim husbands to go to courts and obtain divorce with dignity. Therefore, abolishing triple talaq is a Muslim husband’s right too. To the Muslim women: unless you abandon burqa, go to work and earn cash income, and importantly teach your grand-daughter to enter workforce, all of you will remain at the mercy of man’s money. Your liberty will not ensue.

In the United Kingdom, Muslims are shunning the mainstream legal system. They are running their own Shariah courts. Polygamy is increasing among British Muslims, as Muslim women are willing to become second and third wives. For long term, India’s people also need to grasp the fact that laws alone cannot solve all problems.

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

13-year-old Jain girl fasts unto death, parents believe she died a ‘tapaswini’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Laxmichand Samdariya’s flourishing gold business in the Pot Bazar area of Secunderabad, according to his family priest, depended only on one thing: his 13-year-old daughter Aradhana’s fast.Laxmichand believed in this ritual of making his daughter observe fast during the holy period of Chaumasa (July to October) for the Jains to bring good fortunes to the family. Last year, Aradhana skipped her school to fast for 28 consecutive days.This year, after a 68-day-old fast, Aradhana died before she could even be taken to the hospital. Doctors said starvation and dehydration could be the reasons. On October 1, when a visibly frail Aradhana ended her fast, there were celebrations all over her house. She was dressed up as a queen, made to wear jewellery and the women in the house danced around her.The celebrations ended soon. Aradhana’s condition deteriorated and she died two days later. Achyuta Rao, honorary president, Hakkula Sangam (Child Rights Association), who filed a complaint with the police and sought an inquiry into the case, told dna that even after Aradhana’s death, there is no sign of remorse on her parent’s faces.”They believe she died a tapaswini (female ascetic). This is plain murder. She was made to starve for so many days. She could only drink water from sunset to sunrise and did not eat for 68 days,” Rao added.Rao has already written a letter to the Hyderabad police commissioner and demanded the immediate arrest of Aradhana’s parents. “Aradhana has a younger sister, too. We fear for her life,” he said.Although the police are yet to lodge an FIR, additional deputy commissioner, Hyderabad (North), D Yadagiri, told dna that a statement of the parents has been recorded. “Her parents are denying that they asked her to undertake a 68-day-old fast. They said that she was asked to fast only for 38 days. And that she voluntarily observed the fast,” Yadagiri said.

Kashmir newspaper ‘ban’ criticised

Rights groups criticise the move by authorities to shut down a newspaper in Indian-administered Kashmir.

India accuses Pakistan of harbouring terrorists as they spar again at the UN Human Rights Council

India is dealing with a “terrorist state” which channels billions of dollars to support terrorist groups. It still awaits “credible action by the Pakistani government to bring the perpetrators of 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2016 Pathankot attacks to justice,” India told the UN Human Rights Council in a hard-hitting statement on Monday.

“The latest terrorist attack in Uri, where 18 Indian soldiers lost their life and over 20 injured, only underlines that the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan remains active,” India said using its Right of Reply (RoR), during a general debate on the implementation of Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, responding to a statement made by Pakistan.

“The recovery of GPS, grenades with Pakistani markings, communication matrix sheets and equipment and other stores made in Pakistan, and patterns of infiltration and attacks, is clear evidence of involvement of terror organizations based in Pakistan or territory under its control,” India stated.

It (India) “deeply regrets” its neighbour’s continued misuse of the Council to make “tendentious references” about internal matters pertaining to its state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Pakistan has a “selective approach” in dealing with terrorists inside Pakistan as well as outside its boundaries and its continued support to terrorists in J&K is the main challenge to protecting the human rights of the citizens in the state, India said.

“In Pakistan, our region is dealing with a terrorist state, which has for years with complete impunity channelized billions of dollars from international aid, to training, financing and supporting terrorist groups as militant proxies against it neighbours,” the statement said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Internationally proscribed terrorist entities and their leaders continue to roam the streets of Pakistan freely and operate with State support; even raising funds openly in flagrant violation of Pakistan’s international obligations.

“We await credible action by the Government of Pakistan to bring all those involved in the 2008 Mumbai attack and the 2016 Pathankot attack to justice,” India told the Council.

The “irresponsible and short-sighted” Pakistani policy of using terrorism as a state policy has not only affected India but has had deleterious impact on the stability of South Asia as a whole and beyond.

“We call upon the Council to urge Pakistan to engage in honest introspection and focus its energies on acting against perpetrators of terrorist attacks on its neighbours from its own territory. Countering terrorism emanating from Pakistan, that has turned out to be the most acute violator of human rights, is the only way to address the risk to peace and stability of the region,” India said in the RoR statement.

Pakistan, earlier during the debate, had stated that it is “regrettable” that decades since the adoption of the UN Charter and the two covenants (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights), the people of “Indian-occupied J&K” are still being denied the right to self-determination.

“The repression and brutality they [Kashmiris] face is constant,” Pakistan said.

The Council is being asked to believe the “absurd narrative” of India that the situation in J&K is about terrorism, Pakistan said, adding that the Kashmiri people were being “bludgeoned and brutalized” by an occupying power so that they give up their “just” right to self-determination.

“Genuine human rights defenders like Khurram Parvez are stopped by India from speaking at the Council. This is a clear case of reprisals. Mr. President, you need to take action,” Pakistan said.

Shocking: 90-year-old woman attacked, harassed in Kerala

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 90-year-old woman living alone was allegedly assaulted and harassed by her neighbour after he trespassed into her house at Kadakkal in Kollam district. Police said the nonagenarian woman, a widow and a cancer survivor, was attacked by the 63-year-old man last week.”The man intruded into her house and attacked and behaved in a manner which amounted to outraging her modesty,” District police chief Ajeetha Begum said.He was arrested today and charged under IPC Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 377 (unnatural offences).”We have registered the case based on the statement given by the woman. She was sent to the hospital for detailed medical examination. The accused was arrested and IPC 354 and 377 were charged against him according to her statement,” Ajeetha Begum told PTI.However, police dismissed reports aired by some television channels that the old woman was brutally raped. Meanwhile, the state Human Rights Commission initiated suo moto into the incident based on media reports.A few months back, a Dalit law student was brutally raped and killed by a migrant labour in Perumbavur in Ernakulam district, triggering heated debates on the safety of women in the state.

Muslim women organisation moves Supreme Court supporting triple talaq

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At a time when the Centre has yet to make its stand clear before the Supreme Court on the practice of triple talaq, a voluntary organisation — Muslim Women Welfare Organisation – on Tuesday filed a plea supporting the age-old practice.The Muslim Women’s Welfare Organisation, a Delhi-based organisation, filed the plea through advocate, M R Shamshad, saying so far as the divorce is concerned the Muslim women have equal right the way men have.Concurring the stand taken by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), it said that with regard to divorce, the Muslim women have much stronger rights than Muslim men which is called ‘Khula’.“The right of Muslim men to Triple Talaq is a balancing act to the right of Muslim women to Khula. If the Triple Talaq is struck down, it would affect the free will of Muslim women as well”. For polygamy, it said a woman can seek divorce under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act.Three women have already moved SC against triple talaq saying the practice is discriminatory and violates their fundamental rights.Referring to the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, the women’s organisation said so as far as practice of polygamy is concerned, Section 2 (viii) of the Act sufficient.A woman can make polygamy as a ground of divorce if husband does not treat her equitably in accordance with the injunctions of the Quran. “Thus, it is inappropriate to say that Muslim women are meted out with cruelty when their husbands bring second wife and they are left without any remedy. Further, the rights of Muslim women are protected by virtue of Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act.Earlier, the apex court had sought a reply from the government on the issue. The court is likely to hear the case some time next week.

MEA justifies India’s stance to abstain as UN appoints LGBT rights watchdog

India has abstained at the UN Human Rights Council voting in Geneva to appoint an independent expert to look into cases of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a resolution which was passed by a narrow margin.In a 23-18 vote with six abstentions, the 47-member Human Rights Council on Thursday called for the creation of a three-year position for an independent expert to look into wrongdoing against gays, lesbians and transgender people. Defending India’s decision, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup in New Delhi said India took the decision considering the “legal” reality in the country.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The issue of LGBT rights in India is a matter being considered by the Supreme Court (SC) under a batch of curative petitions filed by various institutions and organisations. The SC is yet to pronounce on this issue.”As such we had to take this into account in terms of our vote on the the UN resolution to institutionalise the office of an independent expert to prevent discrimination against the LGBT persons,” Swarup told reporters.The expert is expected to be appointed at the next meeting of the Geneva-based body in September.The resolution was strongly supported by Latin America and the West, while many African and Middle Eastern countries joined China to vote against it. The expert’s duties will include assessing international human rights laws, raising awareness of violence based on sexual orientation and engaging in dialogue with member states and other stakeholders.The decision to create the post comes weeks after Afghan-origin Omar Mateen massacred 49 people at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida.

India using funding law to foil dissenting charities – U.N. experts | Reuters

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – United Nations experts on Thursday called on India to repeal a law on foreign donations to charities, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government of using it to block funds to organisations considered critical of the state.

Since Modi swept to power more than two years ago, his right-wing nationalist government has tightened surveillance on foreign-funded charities regulated under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA).

More than 10,000 civil society groups in India have had their licences to receive overseas donations cancelled or suspended since 2014, impairing their ability to work in areas from health to the environment.

The government says the groups violate the FCRA by not disclosing details of their donations or have used foreign funds to engage in “anti-national” activities.

But U.N. experts said they were stunned by the way India was applying the law to stymie its critics.

“We are alarmed that FCRA provisions are being used more and more to silence organisations involved in advocating civil, political, economic, social, environmental or cultural priorities, which may differ from those backed by the government,” said a statement by U.N. Special Rapporteurs Michel Forst, David Kaye and Maina Kiai, who focus on human rights defenders and freedoms of expression and association.

Groups such as Greenpeace India, Lawyers Collective and the Sabrang Trust have had their licenses suspended, said the statement from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Greenpeace campaigns against nuclear power and coal mining, Lawyers Collective works on sexual minorities rights and Sabrang Trust is run by Teesta Setalvad, a prominent human rights activist and Modi critic.

A home ministry official contacted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation said he was not in a position to respond immediately to the comments by the U.N. experts.

There is no official number of charities operating in India, but the government estimates at least two million non-profits work in such areas as the environment, climate change and protecting minority rights.

A 2013 report by the home ministry said some 43,500 groups were registered as charities that received foreign funds but slightly less than half provided details of their donations.

Home ministry officials have said they are enforcing the FCRA to make the non-profit sector compliant and transparent and ensure charities are not engaging in illegal political or anti-national activities.

The U.N. experts said use of the FCRA was “overly broad” and activities deemed political or against the economic interest of the state were vague.

They singled out the treatment of the Lawyers Collective, which works on improving the rights of sexual minorities and those living with HIV/AIDS as an attempt to intimidate, delegitimise and silence the group.

“Human rights defenders and civil society must have the ability to do their important job without being subjected to increased limitations on their access to foreign funding,” the U.N. experts said.

(Reporting by Nita Bhalla, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

LGBT are most hated minority on earth; look at how UN treats us for proof

Even as the news of the Orlando massacre started trickling in on an otherwise sultry Sunday, some of us were at a party celebrating the successful Kashish Film Festival later that evening. There was a sober time when the otherwise ecstatic LGBT party goers turned round and asked “Why do they hate us so much?” The Orlando massacre is only a high note in a series of events that seem to be showing a new global trend: mainstream societies, allegedly heterosexual, have prioritized a new enemy. Though hacking innocent Hindus has become passé in Bangladesh, the killing of Xulaz Mannan was unique in that the killers went to his home and brutalised him before hacking him to death. And now in Orlando, a mass killer’s father says “He was very angry when he saw two men kissing”.

Representational Image. AFP.Representational Image. AFP.

Representational Image. AFP.

From Dr Subramanian Swamy to Baba Ramdev to IS/Daesh to evangelist Christians like Uma Shankar in Chennai and scores of Baptist Churches who are actually “celebrating” the mass murders, we need to think why we seem to be up against God and his people in the second decade of this century when we are supposed to have spawned scientific and rational societies all over the world.

The first shock was last week when the United Nations General Assembly met to pass resolutions on the health needs of most-at-risk groups like Men-Having-Sex-With-Men (MSM or the generic phrase for homosexuals), sex workers and ID Users (IDU). The simple 26-page document drafted for the occasion, became a battlefield with powerful countries like Russia, the 53-strong Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) and the Vatican – opposed even the mention of the three most-at-risk groups as “simply unacceptable” (Russia’s words) with the added support of Saudi Arabia which ironically sits on the UN Human Rights Commission with clear Sharia laws mandating homosexuals be executed by swords and axes

The defeat for LGBTI activists in the UNGA made the Global Best Practice officer at UNDP, Clifton Cortez fume:

“Transgender people, men who have sex with men, and sex workers are each mentioned only once in the 26 page document…” and that’s only to acknowledge that we have the distinction of being the most vulnerable to the virus! Government of Russia, shame on you. Government of Poland, shame on you. Holy See, shame on you. Governments of members of the Organization of Islamic States, shame on you all. Most of the governments of African states, shame on you. Call out the culprits. And shame on the LGBTI “ally” governments, starting with the USA, Canada and the Europeans, for showing that we’re not worth the political embarrassment and career blackeye, to the diplomats in charge of the negotiations, that they would experience by standing up for our communities and disavowing consensus on a document that is not only deeply flawed but a license for governments to ignore the HIV crisis among us.

SILENCE=DEATH.”

Even India’s Union Health Minister Nadda stated rather airily that “We will offer treatment for all who need it”, a puffed up add-on to “Sabsa Saath, Sab Ki Vikas” but did not mention the real populations who needed it. HIV among gay men in India is ten times the prevalence in the general populations but then that’s another matter that the Supreme Court is still to even decide on their being criminals or not. Even the cultural acceptance of hijras with long eulogies being sung in the Lok Sabha to the marginalization of “our Tritiya Panthi sisters” did not hide the fact that gay men did not matter. Why? Because as our learned MPs said: ”Homosexuals chose their preferences” and hence any reconsideration on Section 377 was “prone to misuse”. These were words used on TV by a journalist known to be backed by the RSS.

The concern may be genuine but not valid. In his words: ”by removal of Section 377, if we allow you consent then tomorrow you will want to have sex in the streets openly”. Curiously, both in Britain and in the words of the Delhi High Court judgment what was demanded was a reading down of the anti-sodomy law to read “consensual sex between two consenting adults in private”. The reform of the old anti-sodomy law in Britain was followed by stricter policing of public places so homosexuals stuck to the letter of the reformed law. Yet the anxieties remain not only in Britain but all over Europe,

The most homophilic country in Europe, France, saw the one of the biggest rallies against reforming of the laws to allow same-sex marriage late last year in Paris fully backed by the Roman Catholic Church and the French Ulema together mobilizing over a lakh of ‘concerned citizens’. They had the implicit backing of the new Right Wing parties sprouting all over Europe seeing homosexuals as the new danger to the fabric of society. In Italy, despite a sound defeat of its position on abortion, the Vatican has been successfully blowing hot and cold on homosexuals rights with Pope Francis refusing to judge them but making contrary noises on same-sex marriage.

Orlando is thus a wakeup call for LGBT all over the world to organise locally but think globally. Though the killings took place in sunny Florida very close to the Bible Belt, they also seem to have happened on gay territory – the bar Pulse, was started as a memorial to a brother who lost his life to HIV/AIDS. Hence it was a kind of memorial to what gay men have been undergoing in America ever since the AIDS Epidemic wiped out whole swathes of gay populations centred in New York and San Francisco. Now even that territory has been desecrated with homosexual blood in one huge wave of hatred for sexual minorities.
It is too early to even analyze what the consequences of this new horror will visit upon the LGBTI communities in America. Presently, nearly all the gay e-lists and portals have cautioned people not to allow a backlash of Islamophobia though that has been a lurking under-current with Trump ramping it up. But there is a hopeful rising trend that we need to delink generic religion from education, public discourse and even electrol politics.

Meanwhile, Fabrice Houdart, senior officer at the UN Human Rights Council and also senior officer at the World Bank wrote this sad FB post on the Orlando massacre:

Our case rests!

One in every three child workers is illiterate in India, finds new study

New Delhi: One in every three child labourers in the age group of 7-14 is illiterate, said a study based on Census data.

“Close to 1.4 million child labourers in India in the age group of 7-14 years cannot write their names. This means one in three child labourers in the said age group is illiterate,” an analysis of Census data by CRY- Child Rights and You said in a statement.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

This is the grim reality of children who work for more than six months in a year. Even for children who support the family economy by working for less than six months in a year,
which is very common in India, the situation is equally, if not more, worse.

According to the statement, a shocking 2 million of these marginal workers have compromised their education as well. The situation is also reflected in the state figures.

While 45 percent of child labourers in Bihar are illiterate, in Rajasthan and Jharkhand the figure stands at 40 percent.

Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have about 38 per cent child labourers as illiterate. There is a high potential of early school drop-outs and those not learning at school to remain outside the world of employment, it said.

These children when grow remain at a risk of not having secured jobs and thus remain trapped in the intergenerational cycle of poverty and deprivation, it said.

The numbers stated earlier contradict this assumption and is an evidence enough that this needs to change, for main as well as marginal child labourers, the statement added.

In 1992, when India ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a reservation was made in article 32, wherein the Government of India articulated that it would progressively ban all forms of child labour.

Now, after 30 years since the Child Labour Law came into force, India has the opportunity to amend the law in favour of these children. However, the proposed amendment in the Child Labour law leaves a glaring gap in the prohibition of labour for children under the age of 14, CRY said.

The new law also allows children in this age group to work in family occupations after school hours.

The Census 2011 data for children in labour states that 6.5 million children in India in the age group of 5 to 14 work in agriculture and household industries.

This makes a staggering 64.1 percent of child labourers in this age group.

CRY’s on ground experience reveals that a large number of children engaged in these occupations are working with their families, thus exempting them from the proposed ban.

Allowing children to work in family enterprises is likely to have far reaching implications affecting not only their education and learning outcomes but also their health and overall development, it added.

Bill on transgender and drug abuse put on hold by PMO

Two key proposed social sector reforms which seek to protect the rights of transgenders and address the problem of drug abuse are unlikely to be introduced anytime soon, with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) putting them on hold for the time being.The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry had already completed inter-ministerial consultations on the two proposals –Rights of Transgender Persons Bill and the National Drug Demand Reduction Policy– and sent them to the PMO before those could be forwarded to the Union Cabinet for approval. “Following inter-ministerial consultations, these two proposals after being vetted by the Law Ministry were sent to the PMO for its view before sending it to the Cabinet for approval. However, the PMO, in its communication to the Ministry, has asked it to put the two proposals on hold for the time being,” Ministry sources said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The PMO has not specified any reason for its decision, the sources added.
ALSO READ Still a long battle ahead for India’s transgender communityAs per the Draft Rights of Transgender Persons Bill 2016, forcing a transgender to leave a village or residence, forcibly removing their clothes and parading them naked or inciting them to beg or do similar forms of bonded labour will be treated as atrocities and violence against them and proposes imprisonment of upto two years, along with a fine. The Draft Bill also includes a chapter detailing a series of offences which shall be treated as atrocity and violence against transgenders. Also, transgenders, who by birth do not belong to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes may be declared a member of the Backward Classes and would be entitled to reservation under the existing ceiling for OBCs, according to the draft bill.The National Policy for Drug Demand Reduction mainly focuses on the rehabilitation aspect of the victims apart from covering two broad areas–illicit drugs including cannabis, heroin and opium and pharmaceutical preparations like transquilisers and inhalants. The draft policy was sent to to the Prime Minister’s office for approval in January. They have found the original draft to be very lengthy and asked us to make it concise. The Ministry then redrafted the policy and had sent it to the PMO. The redrafted policy emphasises on strengthening coordination among various regulatory agencies concerned to check the diversion of substances from lawful channels to illicit networks, including internet pharmacies.

Air India offloads adivasi rights’ activist from New Delhi-London flight

Air India offloaded an activist from its New Delhi to London flight on Monday morning, May 9, 2016 stating that his passport needed verification as it was impounded in 2013. Gladson Dungdung, however says that his fight for the rights of adivasis his what led to him being deplaned from the AI 115 by the state-run carrier. In a Facebook post, Dungdung said, “I was going to attend the Workshop on Environmental History and Politics of South Asia to be held in the University of Sussex, UK on May 10th. The reason told to me is that my passport had been impounded in 2013, therefore, they will send it back to RTO, Ranchi for verification.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, he continues, that after his passport was impounded, it was returned to him after thorough verification in 2014. Since then, the activist has attended a couple of international conferences in Denmark and London in 2014 and 2015 without facing any issues.
ALSO READ Air India pays pending allowance dues to over 800 pilotsDundung said, “I m sure that this is a clear impact of my book “Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India,” he said. “My fight for the Adivasis’ ownership rights over the Natural resources, Adivasi identity, Human Rights, Ecology and against unjust development processes will continue till they take away my right to life forever. Jai Adivasi!” he concluded.
ALSO READ Air India withdraw strike call after payment of duesAir India is yet to reply to the questions sent. The story will be suitably updated.

Less than half crimes reported to police in Mumbai and Delhi, finds survey

New Delhi: Only about 50 percent of crimes and about 12 percent of sexual harassment cases are reported to police in Delhi and Mumbai, a survey said on Tuesday.

According to a report by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), only 46.8 percent of crimes get reported to police in Delhi, while in Mumbai the percentage stood at 41.8 percent.

Even the rate of lodging a sexual harassment case was very low in both the cities — only 7.5 percent cases were registered in Delhi, while in Mumbai, the rate was a bit higher with 11.1 percent.

Mumbai police. AFPMumbai police. AFP

Mumbai police. AFP

The report said that most of the sexual harassment cases registered were related to passing of lewd and sexual comments.

The CHRI along with the Indian Statistical Institute and Nielsen India Pvt. Ltd. released its report on “Crime Victimisation and Safety Perception.”

The report was based on a year-long survey carried out between July 2014 and June 2015 in Delhi and Mumbai.

On not reporting the crimes, CHRI director Maja Daruwala said: “One reason which came out in our survey was that the victims didn’t wanted to be caught up in police or court matters…The second reason which came into light was that the victims didn’t feel there was enough evidence to take the case forward,” she added.

The maximum cases registered with police were related to theft, which was followed by sexual harassment and assault cases.

Cases of mobile phones being stolen were highest among all in both the cities.

The report also said that about 36 percent of complainants in Delhi and 51 percent in Mumbai were satisfied with the police response.

It said the residents of Mumbai generally perceive police in a more positive light and felt safer than those residing in Delhi.

It also stated that non-Marathi speakers in Mumbai and non-Hindi speakers in Delhi were comparatively more vulnerable to crime.

Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: PMK asks Human Rights Commission to file case against Jayalalithaa

The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) has now written to the Human Rights Commission in Delhi asking them to file a case against AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa. According to the letter filed by the PMK President G K Mani, they wanted action to be taken against the CM for the death of five people who had attended her elections rallies. GK Mani in the letter alleges that the five people died because of lack of proper facilities at her rallies and the fact that they sat in the scorching sun from 11 am in the morning till 4 pm in the afternoon. Many people allegedly fainted because of the heat and it led to chaos. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>DMDK leader Vijayakant had also recently written to the HRC asking them to take against Jayalalithaa.

Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: Jayalalithaa organises 5 lakh water sachets for Trichy rally

Campaigns by various parties are in full swing in the state despite the high temperatures. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalaithaa is campaigning in Trichy on Saturday and has reportedly organised for 5 lakh water sachets for the people attending the rally. She is also holding her rally closer to sunset rather than at 2:30 pm when it was reportedly earlier scheduled.A few days back Jayalalithaa was in Salem addressing an election rally and two AIADMK party workers are stated to have died due to sunstroke. According to the local people, 55-year-old Pachiannan and 62-year-old Periyasamy, collapsed and died of sunstroke. A senior police official also told the media that there were no complaints of any unnatural deaths.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The death of the two party workers was slammed by other parties. DMK’s MK Stalin criticised her for holding her election rallies in the afternoon heat which has proved fatal for many across the south recently. Election rallies are typically held in the evenings but Jayalalithaa has being holding them in the afternoon. On Thursday, DMDK’s Vijayakant had moved the National Human Rights Commission against her for the deaths of the party workers. Jayalalithaa has now moved the rally closer to the evening.

Activists fear new TB drug is too expensive

When the new ‘miracle-drug’ bedaquiline was finally rolled out in India this March — over three years after it was discovered and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration — it became a feather in the cap of the country’s Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP). However, members of civil society groups that work in the field of health have expressed reservation about how this patented and hence expensive drug would reach all the patients who need it desperately.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On April 1, the National Human Rights Commission had sent a notice to the Union commerce and the health ministries, taking serious note of India restraining the production of cheaper versions of generic medicines, as has been reported in the media for the past few weeks. There is a fear within the country’s pharma industry and civil society that the government will refrain from granting compulsory licences to generic companies to reproduce cheaper versions of expensive yet essential drugs, such as bedaquiline.Under its trade name Sirturo, the drug is priced at $4000-5000 by the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceutica.The drug’s initial supply is through a donation made by Janssen for 600 patients for a two-year treatment period. Though the company is said to have told the government that it will provide the drug in India for $900 per course after this donation is over, the price would still be unaffordable for many needy patients, activists say.They also say that though Janssen will probably continue giving donations to the government after this 600-patient mark is reached in two-three years, there is no clarity on what comes after.

Sit-in ‘Satyagraha’ by farmers enters second day in Maharashtra

The farmers are demanding stringent implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), and forest land, pasture land and temple land. The sit-in ‘Satyagraha’ here by thousands of farmers, on various agrarian issues including loan waiver, entered the second day on Thursday.LIVE England vs New Zealand 1st Semi-Final T20, ICC World T20 2016, March 30, 2016The agitation was going on in a peaceful manner, an official of the city police control room said. The farmers under the banner of Maharashtra Rajya Kisan Sabha (affiliated to the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS)). yesterday launched an indefinite sit-in protest on various agrarian issues including loan waiver, fair and remunerative price, drought relief, electricity bills etc, at Anant Kanhere ground in the city. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The farmers are demanding stringent implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), and forest land, pasture land and temple land to be vested in the name of the actual tillers (owners).

HCU row: JNU students meet NHRC officials, demand action against VC Appa Rao

New Delhi: A delegation of JNU students on Monday met officials at NHRC here on Monday over the alleged crackdown and arrest of students in Hyderadabad Central University and demanded concrete action against its VC Appa Rao in connection with the Rohith Vemula issue.

27 people including 25 students and two faculty members of the varsity were arrested on March 23 in connection with the recent violence on the campus. However, they were today granted bail by a local court.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The delegation which met National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Registrar CK Chaturvedi submitted a compilation of testimonials of HCU students regarding the “inhuman treatment” meted out to them on March 22 and demanded that Rao be removed from the post of VC.

“We compiled the testimonials of HCU students who were on the receiving end of the crackdown, in a CD, and submitted it to the NHRC. We have especially pointed out the case of a student Uday Bhanu who was physically assaulted. That is the case of human rights violation,” JNUSU Vice President Shehla Rashid Shora said.

“We hope NHRC takes this case seriously and does something something concrete about it,” she added.
Many students from different universities including JNU, DU and Jamia Milia Islamia had gathered in front of NHRC building to express solidarity with the students of HCU.

Carrying placards and raising slogans, the students demanded the removal of Rao and HRD Minister Smriti Irani from their respective posts as well as the enactment of ‘Rohith Act’ against caste discrimination in educational institutions.

Celebrations broke out among the protestors as the news about the release of HCU students on bail broke out and the students hailed the release as “the victory of our struggle”.

The NHRC had, on 25 March, issued notices to the top Union HRD and Telangana government officials over action against the students and is now awaiting for their reports.

Chaturvedi reportedly assured the delegation of “proper action” once the report from Andhra Pradesh Human Rights Commission is received.

“The Commission did not know about the magnitude of assault on the students in HCU. We had to inform them. They have promised to inform us once they get the report from the APHRC,” said Rama, a member of JNUSU and the delegation.

PTI

JNU students delegation meets NHRC over crackdown in HCU

A delegation of JNU students on Monday met officials at NHRC over the alleged crackdown and arrest of students in Hyderabad Central University and demanded concrete action against its VC Appa Rao in connection with the Rohith Vemula issue. Twenty seven people including 25 students and two faculty members of the varsity were arrested on March 23 in connection with the recent violence on the campus. However, they were today granted bail by a local court.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The delegation which met National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Registrar CK Chaturvedi submitted a compilation of testimonials of HCU students regarding the “inhuman treatment” meted out to them on March 22 and demanded that Rao be removed from the post of VC. “We compiled the testimonials of HCU students who were on the receiving end of the crackdown, in a CD, and submitted it to the NHRC. We have especially pointed out the case of a student Uday Bhanu who was physically assaulted. That is the case of human rights violation,” JNUSU Vice President Shehla Rashid Shora said. “We hope NHRC takes this case seriously and does something something concrete about it,” she added.Many students from different universities including JNU, DU and Jamia Milia Islamia had gathered in front of NHRC building to express solidarity with the students of HCU. Carrying placards and raising slogans, the students demanded the removal of Rao and HRD Minister Smriti Irani from their respective posts as well as the enactment of ‘Rohith Act’ against caste discrimination in educational institutions. Celebrations broke out among the protestors as the news about the release of HCU students on bail broke out and the students hailed the release as “the victory of our struggle”.The NHRC had, on March 25, issued notices to the top Union HRD and Telangana government officials over action against the students and is now awaiting for their reports. Chaturvedi reportedly assured the delegation of “proper action” once the report from Andhra Pradesh Human Rights Commission is received. “The Commission did not know about the magnitude of assault on the students in HCU. We had to inform them. They have promised to inform us once they get the report from the APHRC,” said Rama, a member of JNUSU and the delegation.

‘Do you think we don’t have any other work to do’- Supreme Court dismisses deportation plea against Taslima Nasreen

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking deportation of controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen and cancellation of her visa given by the Indian government.”Do you think that we do not have any other work to do”, a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice U U Lalit said while dismissing an appeal filed by an NGO against a Delhi High Court order on the case.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bench was hearing the appeal filed by NGO ‘All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front’ seeking cancellation of Nasreen’s visa alleging that she has been violating the Foreigners Order of 1948 and the Foreigners Act of 1946 by airing her views on every issue without prior permission.Nafis Ahmad Siddiqui, lawyer and President of the NGO, said Nasreen, who is living in exile since 1994, has been making controversial statements, besides doing professional work here. The authorities are granting Nasreen the visa for a period beyond 180 days which is not permissible, he claimed. Earlier, the High Court had dismissed the PIL of the NGO on the issue saying there was no public interest in the matter. The appeal was filed in the apex court.

Maharashtra govt don’t give two hoots to rights panel recommendations

Maharashtra government has acted upon less than one-third of the recommendations by the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), on various rights violations, in the last two years. While six of the 45 recommendations were rejected, 25 are still pending before the government.According to the statistics available with dna, the rights panel had sought Rs 38.76 lakh in damages for victims in 45 cases, from the state government from November 2013 to March this year. While the government accepted and released compensation worth Rs 11.87 lakh in 14 cases, it rejected six claims and have kept in abeyance 25 other recommendations.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Most of the rights violation cases (31) involved the home department. The other departments against whom the commission has submitted rights violation cases were that of tribal development, revenue & forests, urban development, town planning and energy.”As per SHRC regulations, action taken report must be submitted within a month. Also, half-yearly report needs to be submitted before the commission. It is learnt that most of the time this regulation is not followed inspite of the commission’s repeated reminders. For refusing any recommendation given by the commission, the state has to give satisfactory reasons. If the commission is not satisfied with the reasoning for denial, the complainant can go to the High Court,” said a senior member from the commission.He added that the recommendations need not be always demanding monetary compensation. They can also be to seek proper measures and actions so as to pre-empt any rights violation at a particular point of time.”The commission is doing awareness programmes on human rights at your doorsteps. An experiment was done recently at three places – Kolhapur, Amravati and Buldhana. As per the programmes, on the first day, hearing of cases was conducted at local places only, on the second day sensitisation programmes were held for public servants from all departments and on the last day an awareness programme for public at large was held. The experiment was very successful and now we plan to make it a continuous affair,” said Justice SR Bannurmath, chairperson of the commission.He added that at least 50% of the cases received by the commission are not maintainable.Status of cases handled by SHRC till February 2016Earlier pendancy of cases – 20,193Fresh cases received – 884Total cases – 21,077Total cases disposed – *442Pending cases till February – 20,635

Shoe hurled at Kanhaiya Kumar during a seminar in Hyderabad

A shoe was hurled at JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar as he was about to address a seminar on Thursday.A man sitting in the audience threw a shoe at Kumar but it missed the target and fell just ahead of the stage.The seminar on ‘Constitutional Rights’ was organised at Sundrayya Vignana Kendram (SVK) at Baghlingampally here, a building run by Left parties.Police took away the man even as commotion prevailed in the hall for sometime. The meeting continued after the incident.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier in the day, describing universities as centres to promote “criticial thinking”, Kanhaiya alleged that the educational institutions are under attack.”There is an allegation that we are doing politics. Are we doing politics or is the government is doing politics? (It) has a pre-planned script to destroy autonomy of universities.The precise work of universities, intellectuals is to promote critical thinking,” he told reporters at a press conference here.Kumar is on a two-day visit to Hyderabad and Vijaywada, his first visit after coming out of jail on facing sedition charges.The struggle in JNU is an extension of the campaign in Hyderabad Central University for justice to Rohit Vemula.There is a similalrity between HCU and JNU in the context of attack on autonomy of universtities and fight of social justice, he said.Citing examples of FTII, Aligarh Universtity and HCU and JNU he claimed that the campuses are becoming war zones.The development agenda of NDA government has taken a back seat during the last two years of its rule, he alleged.Replying to a query, he said he would not campaign in the election in five states.

NHRC notice to Chhattisgarh govt over journalist’s arrest

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday issued notice to Chhattisgarh government over the “arrest and torture” of a journalist in Bastar by the police for allegedly posting objectionable comments on social media.Click Here For LIVE SCORE: India vs Bangladesh, ICC World T20The Commission received a complaint drawing specific attention to the arrest, detention and torture of a progressive journalist by police in Bastar on March 21. The complaint alleged that human rights activists are being targeted for doing their work, an NHRC statement said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Chhattisgarh and a factual report in the matter has been sought within two weeks time. “The complainant has alleged that the victim journalist and a Human Rights activists Prabhat Singh was picked up from his shop by policemen in plain clothes without any notice or warning about 6 PM. “He was taken to Parpa police station, beaten up and tortured all night and even deprived of food and water,” the NHRC statement said.The complainant has requested the Commission for its immediate intervention, impartial investigation and action against those found guilty of violation of human rights of the victim. Prabhat Singh, who is said to be working for a Hindi national daily, was picked up by Bastar police on March 21 from Dantewada district and arrested yesterday. He was produced before a Jagdalpur court yesterday which remanded him in judicial custody for 15 days.”Singh was booked under IT Act following the complaint by Bijapur-based journalist Santosh Tiwari and other scribes for allegedly posting an insulting message on a Whatsapp group early this month,” Bastar Superintendent of Police R N Dash said. There are three other cases also lodged against him last year at different police stations of Dantewada, he said. Singh is the third journalist to be arrested in Bastar in nine months. Two others — Santosh Yadav and Somaru Nag — have been arrested for allegedly helping Maoists. Nag was arrested in July last year, and Yadav two months later.

Lok Sabha members press for law to end discrimination against transgenders

Cutting across party lines, Lok Sabha members on Friday underlined the need for an effective law to end discrimination against transgenders so that they can enjoy all constitutional rights and live a dignified life.Resuming the debate over the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, BJP member Jagdambika Pal said the transgenders are also citizens of this country and they must have all the rights. “It is unfortunate that they are being discriminated, tortured and not treated well by the society…they should be provided legal protection,” he added.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Several members from different political parties suggested that Lok Sabha should pass the Transgender Persons Bill, a private measure, which was approved by the Rajya Sabha earlier. The Rajya Sabha had created history last April when it passed the private members’ bill brought by Tiruchi Siva (DMK). He was present in the gallery of the Lower House to witness the debate.Participating in the discussion, Congress member Shashi Tharoor said the bill sought to address the problems being faced by homosexuals as well as transgenders. Tharoor regretted that the country is saddled with colonial era laws which reflected Victorian morality.The Supreme Court, he said, has ruled that transgenders should have all the rights of a citizen provided in the Constitution and should have the option to decide whether they belong to category – male, female or the third gender.He suggested that there should be a transgender welfare board to take care of the needs of such persons and demanded the Lok Sabha should pass the bill approved by the Upper House. Intervening in the discussion, Thawar Chand Gehlot, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, asked the members to also give their views on a definition of ‘transgenders’, how they can be provided reservation and should they be treated as males or females.Prahlad Singh Patel (BJP), however, suggested that the law to protect the rights of transgenders should not be passed in a hurry. “We need to consider all connected issues before enacting any law on the rights of transgenders,” Patel said adding it is mainly the responsibility of the family to take care of such children.Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) also said that there are lot of incongruities in the bill and suggested that the government should come out with a comprehensive bill to deal with the problems of transgenders.Among others who participated in the discussion were P P Choudhary, Lakhan Lal Sahu and Bhairon Prasad Mishra (all BJP) and Konda Vishweshwar Reddy (TRS). The discussion will continue. The bill provides for formulation of a implementation of a comprehensive national policy for ensuring overall development of the transgender persons and for their welfare. According to some estimates there were about 25 lakh transgenders in the country, though the number could be much higher as many do not declare their status because of social stigma.

JNU row: Kanhaiya Kumar cries conspiracy, says videos ‘doctored’

JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested in a sedition case, has claimed he is a victim of conspiracy and falsely implicated by “fabricating” evidence.The jailed students leader, who has moved the Delhi High Court for bail, alleged that a doctored video, which seeks to superimpose utterances that may have been made elsewhere by others, was being circulated to falsely implicate him in the case. His petition contended that the charge of sedition has not been made against him merely for raising slogans against government as that action was not accompanied by violence or incitement.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is alleged that the petitioner (Kanhaiya) raised slogans on the evening February 9 at JNU. However, the petitioner strenuously denies that he raised any slogan that would fall within the mischief of section 124 A (sedition) of IPC… The petitioner, however, submits that he is a victim of conspiracy where certain vested elements are seeking to fabricate evidence against him and circulate a doctored video which seeks to superimpose utterances that may have been made elsewhere by others, on him,” the bail plea, filed by Kanhaiya said.The petition further said that he never raised any seditious slogans and no charge under section 124 A of IPC is made out against him.”The conspectus (a summary or overview of a subject) of circumstances shows that petitioner has never made any seditious utterances/slogans on February 9 and that utterances made by others are sought to be superimposed on the petitioner to falsely implicate him,” it said.Kanhaiya has also referred to Supreme Court judgements which state that section 124 A would be attracted only “when the accused brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt or incites or attempts to incite disaffection towards government established by law in India”.”It is further held that raising some slogans or making a speech does not constitute any threat to the government, particularly, if it is not accompanied by any violence or incitement for violence…That even as per the FIR no seditious utterance has been attributed to the petitioner. That post facto, there have been no incidents of violence as a consequence of any utterances (speeches or slogans) that the petitioner may have made. The JNU premises have remained calm and not a single incident of violence or any sort of disturbance has been reported..,” the plea said.He has also referred to the National Human Rights Commission report which has castigated the police for dereliction of its duty and concluded that events which took place at Patiala House Courts were a security lapse.

Stop charging Kanhaiya Kumar with sedition: Humar Rights Watch

A top American human rights body on Friday asked Indian authorities to stop charging peaceful activists, including JNU students’ union leader Kanhaiya Kumar, with sedition.The Indian authorities should immediately drop all charges that violate the right to free expression, and fully investigate the attack inside the court and fairly prosecute those responsible, including any ruling party supporters, Human Rights Watch said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The BJP government seems eager to punish peaceful speech but less willing to investigate supporters who commit violence in the name of nationalism,” alleged Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.”The authorities not only need to find out why BJP supporters were apparently involved in an assault inside a court, but also why the police did nothing,” she said.HRW said the case has highlighted the urgent need for India’s parliament to repeal the country’s sedition law. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code prohibits any words, spoken or written, or any signs or visible representation that can cause “hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection,” toward the government.The Supreme Court has imposed limits on the use of the sedition law, making incitement to violence a necessary element, but police continue to file sedition charges even in cases where this requirement is not met, it said.Observing that repeated use of the law to silence peaceful speech is a violation of India s international human rights obligations, HRW said the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India ratified in 1979, prohibits restrictions on freedom of expression on national security grounds unless they are provided by law, strictly construed, and necessary and proportionate to address a legitimate threat. Such laws cannot put the right itself in jeopardy, it said.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi is promoting Indian democracy around the world as an attractive market, and yet back home, his administration is cracking down on peaceful dissent. Failing to uphold basic human rights is not a good global message,” Ganguly said.

Jamaat-e-Ulema can intervene in matters regarding Muslim women’s rights, says Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday permitted an intervention application by the Jamaat-e-Ulema-Hind contending that Muslim personal law was protected by the right to freedom of religion guaranteed under the Constitution and there was sufficient protection for women’s rights under it.

A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur, Justice AK Sikri and Justice R Banumathi permitted the organisation of Muslim clerics to intervene in the matter relating to gender equality of Muslim women that was directed to be taken up a PIL by one of the benches of the top court.

Senior counsel Huzefa Ahmedi, appearing for the Jamaat, said that Muslim Personal Law was protected by Article 25 of the Constitution and it could only be interfered by the parliament and not the judiciary.

Article 25 guaranteeing the right to freedom of religion says: “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.”

Ahmedi said that under Muslim personal law, women have sufficient rights and the court should not interfere with it.

Supreme Court. ReutersSupreme Court. Reuters

Supreme Court. Reuters

Since Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi was not present during the hearing and the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has yet to take a position, the court adjourned the matter for six weeks.

A bench of Justice Anil R Dave and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel had by their 16 October, 2015 order issued notice to Rohatgi and NALSA as it directed the separate listing of a PIL addressing the question of the rights of Muslim women.

Referring to the suggestion by some lawyers that a separate PIL may be registered to go into the question of rights of Muslim women, the court had said: “We are of the view that the suggestion needs consideration in view of earlier decision of this court. The issue has also been highlighted in recent articles appearing in the press on this subject.”

While directing a separate PIL, the court had referred to an “important issue of gender discrimination” which was not connected with the matter being dealt by the court but was raised by some lawyers concerning the rights of Muslim women.

The court noted the submission by the lawyers which said that “inspite of guarantee of the constitution, Muslim women are subjected to discrimination. There is no safeguard against arbitrary divorce and second marriage by her husband during currency of the first marriage, resulting in denial of dignity and security to her”.

The court by its 16 October order had noted that several times the issue of safeguarding the Muslim women from arbitrary divorce had come up before the court but every time it was said that since the challenge to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 was pending before the constitution bench, there was “no reason to multiply proceedings on such an issue”.

The court’s view came in the second part of its judgment in a batch of matters on the issue whether Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, had retrospective effect.

Urging the court to consider the issue of the rights of Muslim women, it was pointed out by the lawyers that the “matter needs consideration by this court as the issue relates not merely to a policy matter but to fundamental rights of women under articles 14, 15 and 21 and international conventions and covenants”.

IANS

Court can’t test validity of personal law: Muslim group to Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind to become a party in a suo motu PIL instituted to deal with various issues including gender bias against Muslim women, with the organisation contending that the court cannot test the validity of personal law.A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi, which had issued notices to the Attorney General and National Legal Services Authority on the PIL, directed the Centre and the organisation to file reply within six weeks.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In its plea, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has contended that the apex court cannot examine the constitutional validity of the practices of marriage, divorce and maintenance in Muslim personal law on the ground that provisions of personal laws cannot be challenged by the reason of fundamental rights.”Personal laws do not derive their validity on the ground that they have been passed or made by a legislature or other competent authority. The foundational sources of personal law are their respective scriptural texts. The Mohammedan Law is founded essentially on the Holy Koran and thus it cannot fall within the purview of the expression ‘laws in force’ as mentioned in Article 13 of the Constitution of India, and hence its validity cannot be tested on a challenge based on Part III of the Constitution,”it said.Last year, the apex court had ordered registration of a PIL and asked the Chief Justice to set up a Special Bench to deal with issues relating to the challenge to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act. It had noted that the issue was not merely a policy matter but concerns the fundamental rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution.The issue had cropped-up during the hearing of a matter related to Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act and the bench had noted that “an important issue of gender discrimination which though not directly involved in this appeal, has been raised by some of the counsel for the parties which concerns rights to Muslim women. Discussions on gender discrimination led to this issue also.””It was pointed out that inspite of guarantee of the Constitution, Muslim women are subjected to discrimination. There is no safeguard against arbitrary divorce and second marriage by her husband during currency of the first marriage, resulting in denial of dignity and security to her,” it had noted.

WikiLeaks’ Assange ‘arbitrarily detained’ in embassy, U.N. panel to say | Reuters

STOCKHOLM/LONDON WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange‘s three-and-a-half-year stay in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid rape investigation in Sweden amounts to ‘arbitrary detention’, a United Nations panel will rule on Friday.

Assange, who enraged the United States by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, appealed to the panel saying he was a political refugee whose rights had been infringed by being unable to take up asylum in Ecuador.

The former computer hacker denies allegations of a 2010 rape in Sweden, saying the charge is a ploy that would eventually take him to the United States where a criminal investigation into the activities of WikiLeaks is still open.

His leaks laid bare often highly critical U.S. appraisals of world leaders from Vladimir Putin to the Saudi royal family.

Britain said it had never arbitrarily detained Assange and that the Australian had voluntarily avoided arrest by jumping bail to flee to the embassy.

But the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled in Assange’s favour, Sweden said.

“Should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me,” Assange, 44, said in a short statement posted on Twitter.

He had said that if he lost the appeal then he would leave his cramped quarters at the embassy in the Knightsbridge area of London, though Britain said he would be arrested and extradited to Sweden as soon as he stepped outside.

Assange made international headlines in early 2010 when WikiLeaks published classified U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff.

Later that year, the group released over 90,000 secret documents detailing the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan, followed by almost 400,000 internal U.S. military reports detailing operations in Iraq.

More than 250,000 classified cables from U.S. embassies followed, then almost three million dating back to 1973.

POLITICAL REFUGEE?

In his submission to the U.N. working group, which is due to publish its findings on Friday, Assange argued that his time in the embassy constituted arbitrary detention.

“(The) working group has made the judgment that Assange has been arbitrarily detained in contravention of international commitments,” a spokeswoman for the Swedish Foreign Ministry said, confirming an earlier report by the BBC.

He said that he had been deprived of fundamental liberties including access to sunlight and fresh air, adequate medical facilities and legal and procedural security.

While the ruling may draw attention to Assange’s fate, it is unlikely to immediately affect the current investigations against him.

“We have been consistently clear that Mr Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK but is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy,” a British government spokeswoman said.

“An allegation of rape is still outstanding and a European Arrest Warrant in place, so the UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden,” she said.

Swedish prosecutors said the U.N. decision had no formal impact on the rape investigation under Swedish law. A U.S. Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks is ongoing.

STAY OR GO?

Britain, where Assange is wanted for jumping bail, has spent over 10 million pounds ($15 million) on keeping guards outside the embassy for over three years,

“There seems to me a real risk that if he left the embassy that he may expose himself to arrest or questioning,” said Philip Lynch, director of the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva, an NGO.

“A decision that effective confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy constitutes arbitrary detention – it doesn’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that the underlying arrest warrants and extradition requests are unlawful.”

Per Samuelson, one of Assange’s Swedish lawyers, said if the U.N. panel judged Assange’s time in the embassy to be custody, he should be released immediately.

“It is a very important body that would be then saying that Sweden’s actions are inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights. And it is international common practice to follow those decisions,” Samuelson told Reuters.

Since Assange’s confinement, WikiLeaks has continued to publish documents on topics such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the world’s biggest multinational trade deals.

($1 = 0.6859 pounds)

(Additional reporting by Matt Siegal in Sydney, Daniel Dickson in Stockholm, Michael Holden and Kate Holtin in London, Alistair Scrutton and Simon Johnson in Stockholm, Tom Miles in Geneva, Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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Tasting blood on land bill, Congress out to take on Modi government on forest land rights

After successfully forcing the central government to withdraw amendments in the Land Acquisition Bill, main Opposition Congress is now out to cash in on the guidelines and circulars issued over past 18 months aimed at synchronizing the Forests Rights Act (FRA) with “ease of business”.Under the new guidelines, degraded forests can be handed over to private companies and also permission of “gram sabha” shall be no longer necessary, for setting up projects. Senior party leader and spokesperson Jairam Ramesh on Friday said the party was launching a nationwide campaign to force government to withdraw new guidelines as well as to project Modi government anti-tribal. Next week, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has summoned all state unit chiefs to Delhi to formulate a strategy for the campaign and also review implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MG NREGA) exactly a decade after its implementation. The party hopes the latest campaign will also emulate the buzz as the anti-land bill amendments had created, forcing the government their withdrawal, lest being dubbed as anti-farmer.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Since 2006, when the FRA was adopted, about 16.7 lakh forest dwellers, predominantly tribals, have received legal land titles. Each ‘patta’ is about 4 acres. These also include 30,000 community forest resource rights. As many as 60% of these rights have been issues in Odisha and Tripura, leaving even the Congress rules states faltering.Menda Lekha, a tribal village in Maoist-affected Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, had become a national symbol of empowerment of the gram sabha when it was handed over control of bamboo from the forest department in 2011. For three years, it posted an annual income of Rs 1 crore. Ramesh said the village was now protesting, as the rights have been returned to to the forest department once again.Further, the actions include notification of rules under the colonial Indian Forest Act, guidelines for privatisation of forests, diversion of forest lands without the consent of the gram sabhas, and massive plantation in tribal lands by overruling the FRA. “These moves have greatly affected the early gains made by the FRA in empowering the tribals and even halted the process of implementation in many states. All these exhibit an intolerance towards the democratic governance of forests in the country and the protective legislations enacted after a long struggle by the tribal and forest dwellers,” he said.The Central government guidelines are set to open up 40 percent of the forests in India for private sector. The guidelines specify that, aside from fodder, local communities’ rights will be restricted to “10-15%” of the allotted plots.

Centre seeks legal base for use of term ‘divyang’ for differently-abled people

The Centre is seeking a legal base for use of the term ‘divyang’ for persons with disabilities after Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested that the word be used to replace ‘viklang’.The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has invited views from all stakeholders, including states and Union territories (UTs), in this regard. “Prime Minister in a recently broadcast radio programme ‘Man ki Baat’ has suggested that persons with disabilities should be called as ‘divyang’ instead of ‘viklang’.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”With a view to taking forward the use of the word ‘divyang’ i.e. ‘persons with extraordinary abilities’ and giving a legal base for the use of this word, the department intends to invite the views of all stakeholders including States/UTs,” the letter sent to state governments and UTs said.The letter sought “inputs/comments regarding the use of the word ‘divyang’ in place of ‘Persons with Disabilities’ for all practical purposes, including in the legal instrument.” The phrase ‘Persons with Disabilities’ is used in the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, and in the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).”‘Person with Disabilities’ is being used so that the self-esteem and dignity of the persons with disabilities is not compromised,” the letter added. However, several disabled people’s organisations today strongly objected to the use of the term ‘divyang’ to address the community and urged Modi to not use it to replace ‘viklang’.In a letter to the PM, they said that disability was not a divine gift and that the use of phrases like ‘divyang’ in no way ensures de-stigmatisation or an end to discrimination on grounds of disability.The organisations further said that the government should address the issues of stigma, discrimination and marginalisation that persons with disabilities are subjected to on account of the cultural, social, physical and attitudinal barriers that hinder their effective participation in the country’s economic, social and political life. “We would, therefore, request you to refrain from using the term ‘divyang’ and also shelve any plan that the government may be making to officially use this term,” the organisations said.

Opening Ayodhya temple doors error of judgement by Rajiv Gandhi: President Mukherjee

The opening of Ram Janmabhoomi temple site in Ayodhya was an “error of judgement” by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the demolition of Babri Masjid an act of “absolute perfidy” that destroyed India’s image, President Pranab Mukherjee has said in his memoir released on Thursday.”The opening of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple site on 1 February 1986 was perhaps another error of judgement. People felt these actions could have been avoided,” the President has written in the book titled “The Turbulent Years: 1980-96″, released by Vice President Hamid Ansari.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The demolition of Babri Masjid was an act of absolute perfidy…It was the senseless, wanton destruction of a religious structure, purely to serve political ends. It deeply wounded the sentiments of the Muslim community in India and abroad. It destroyed India’s image as a tolerant, pluralistic nation,” he says.Mukherjee says implementation of the Mandal Commission’s recommendations “contributed to reducing social injustice in society though it also divided and polarised different sections of our population”. The period of 1989-91, Mukherjee says, was a phase dominated by violence and bitter divisions within Indian society.”Insurgency and cross border terrorism broke out in Jammu and Kashmir; the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir-Babri Masjid issue rocked the nation. Finally, a suicide bomber brought Rajiv’s life to an abrupt and tragic end on 21 May 1991,” he says.The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s campaign by mobilising activists to collect bricks from all over the country and take them in a procession to Ayodhya caused communal tension, he said.Recalling the Shah Bano case, the President says Rajiv Gandhi’s action eroded his image of a modern man.”Rajiv’s actions on the Shah Bano judgement and the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Bill drew criticism and eroded his modern image,” the President said.Shah Bano, a Muslim mother of five children, was divorced by her husband in 1978. She filed a criminal suit in which the Supreme Court ruled in her favour and she won the right to alimony from her husband.However, the then Congress government, enacted the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. The most controversial provision of the Act was that it gave a Muslim woman the right to maintenance for the period of iddat (about three months) after the divorce, and shifted the onus of maintaining her to her relatives or the Wakf Board. The Act was seen as discriminatory as it denied divorced Muslim women the right to basic maintenance which women of other faiths had recourse to under secular law.Mukherjee says Rajiv Gandhi has been criticised for his excessive reliance on some close friends and advisers who installed the so-called ‘babalog’ government. “Some of them turned out to be fortune seekers.” The Bofors issue proved to be one of the causes for Rajiv Gandhi’s undoing in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections, though no charge has been substantiated against him till date, Mukherjee writes. He says V P Singh earned fame as “messiah” for his government’s decision to implement the Mandal Commission’s recommendations for quotas to Other Backward Classes in government jobs and central universities.The move, he says, reduced social injustice but left the country “divided and polarised”. Mukherjee says during 1980-1996 India emerged stronger from these challenges.”The reforms of the 1980s, though limited in scope, were precursors to the systematic policy narrative of the 1990s. In all, they yielded rich dividends for the country. During this period, India managed to surmount some challenges, kept others at bay and charted new paths. This is not to say that some of those challenges won’t reappear or that newer ones won’t emerge-but we did not give up on the idea of India our Constituent Assembly had left us with,” he says.

One in every two children in West Bengal anaemic: NFHS

Over 50 per cent children under five years of age are anaemic in West Bengal, as per the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4 for 2015-16) data. “In West Bengal, though the number of children under five years of age suffering from anaemia decreased by seven per cent points over the last decade (from 61 per cent in 2005-06 to 54.2 per cent in 2015-16), one in every two children is still anaemic,” Atindra Nath Das, Regional Director (East), Child Rights and You told PTI while quoting from the report.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mothers do not fare any better than children in this regard either, as more than 60 per cent of all women and 53.2 per cent of pregnant women were found anaemic in the state, the survey revealed. “The nutritional status of children in West Bengal is found to have improved only marginally, in comparison to that of the previous NFHS data published almost a decade ago,” Das said. The much-awaited survey on India’s health indicators was released by the Health Ministry recently, after almost a decade.While the report indicates an improvement in the overall health of children, the rate of progression on annual basis was alarming. Besides child malnutrition, quality of ante-natal and delivery care for expecting mothers also showed worrying trends negatively impacting child-health in the state, as findings of the recent survey suggested. However, overall findings of the first phase of the NFHS-4 show marginal improvement in the maternal and child health and nutrition across 13 states and two UTs.Even though West Bengal has done fairly well in several child health and nutrition indicators like immunisation and treatment of critical childhood diseases, the progression rate of critical indicators like child nutrition, which has direct linkage with children’s overall growth and development, remained far below than expectation, Das said. “The NFHS is not just a reflection of the state of health and nutritional wellbeing of children, but it also provides a direction for corrective measures in state policies and programmes,” he added.

President hosts lunch for 100 women achievers

President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday hosted a lunch for 100 women achievers for their contribution to nation building and community development on the first anniversary of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ scheme at Rashtrapati Bhawan.”These women have now emerged as achievers through public support. These are women who have pushed boundaries to prove their mettle over 20 categories,” senior Women and Child Development Ministry official said. The 100 women achievers were selected by the ministry through a nationwide contest and public nominations. The ministry, in collaboration with Facebook, had conducted the ‘100 Women Initiative’ to recognize women who are making a difference in their communities across the country and their achievements may have gone unsung.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The contest was beamed live on ministry’s Facebook page on July 15 last year through which nominations were invited in 20 categories. “The ministry received an encouraging response from the public, with nominations flowing in from the public. A panel of jury members shortlisted the top 200 women nominees across 20 categories,” ministry official said. Public voting was held through Facebook from 3-20 December, 2015.Rashida Bi from Madhya Pradesh has been selected in the Environment and Forests and Wildlife category for working towards the welfare of Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims for the last 30 years. The list of nominees also includes Patiala-based Harshinder Kaur, a paediatric doctor who has been awarded by numerous governments across the globe for her work in eradicating discrimination against female child, and Lalita Nijhawan from Delhi for her commendable work in the field of education for women and children, especially the girl child.The categories include Access to Justice Protecting Women & their Rights, Agriculture and Animal husbandry, Animal Welfare, Arts and Culture, Commerce Industry and Entrepreneurship, Community Mobilization, Disability and Disadvantage, Education, among others.

Thaawarchand Gehlot discusses Transgender Persons Bill with stakeholders

Union Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot on Monday held a meeting with concerned ministries, legal experts and representatives of transgender community, while promising a “conducive environment” for the community in the country.Presiding over a pre-legislative consultation meeting on the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill 2015 here, the Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment assured that the suggestions given by the stakeholders for the welfare of transgender persons will be duly considered and implemented through the respective state governments.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Central government will try to create a conducive environment for the community at various levels so that they can be brought into the mainstream,” he said.Various issues relating to stigma and discrimination of transgender persons, including children in the community, schools, colleges and at work place etc were discussed. Other issues that were deliberated upon were establishment of a Welfare Board for Transgender Persons at national and state levels for effective implementation of the provisions of Bill and to act as a grievance redressal mechanism.”Members also felt that various legislations pertaining to violence and abuse should also be extended to the transgender persons which would go a long way in securing justice for this vulnerable community,” said a statement issued by the Ministry.As per the draft Bill, transgenders who by birth do not belong to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes may be declared as Backward Class and would be entitled for reservation under the existing ceiling of OBC category. Those who by birth belong to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, would be entitled for reservation under their respective categories as per the existing rules.Transgenders will be declared as the third gender and will have the option to identify as ‘man’, ‘woman’ or transgender’. Only the nomenclature ‘transgender’ will be used and ‘other or ‘others’ will not be used.”Also, transgenders would be issued a proper certificate for their identity by a state-level authority duly designated or constituted by respective state or UT on the lines of Tamil Nadu Aravanis Welfare Board,” Gehlot said.The certificate issued will have to be acceptable to all authorities for indicating the gender on official documents like ration card, passport, birth certificate, aadhaar card, etc.In the education sector, the institutions and universities will be establishing an anti-discrimination cell to monitor any form of discrimination against the transgender community. Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla was also present in the consultation meeting.

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