Modi Govt Takes Convenient U-Turn on Sedition, Non-Committal About Marital Rape; How Charles Sobhraj Fooled the Indian Press, Cheated Thai Firing Squad
Tamil Nadu Iron Age goes back to 4,200 years ago, Army Chief seeks ‘whole of nation’ approach on LAC, FIIs shun LIC IPO, Singapore bans ‘The Kashmir Files’, Danish Siddiqui & colleagues get Pulitzer
A newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, Sushant Singh and Tanweer Alam | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
May 10, 2022
The AAP government in Delhi has spent Rs 68 lakh on spreading bio-decomposers to benefit only 955 farmers, reports Newslaundry, and spent Rs 23 crore on publicising it.
Almost desperate to see that the Supreme Court does not hear petitions on the validity of the colonial-era sedition law in Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, the Modi government has dramatically changed its line in 48 hours. Drawing PM Modi directly into the discourse, it said that the Union government would reconsider and reexamine the provision, and asked the top court to wait while it conducts the exercise. The position of the PM, senior leaders and the BJP on sedition had been crystal clear. It berated the Congress for criticising the law in its 2019 election manifesto. A website on sedition run by Article-14.com reveals a whopping rise in sedition cases in the past decade, especially since the BJP came to power ― 96% of live sedition cases were filed against 405 people after the BJP’s 2014 victory. This afternoon, the Supreme Court is hearing suits against sedition law to determine, specifically, if the Kedarnath Singh judgment needs to be revisited.
Such non-committal stonewalling by the Union was also visible during the hearing of cases in the Delhi High Court seeking criminalisation of marital rape, where the constitutionality of Exception 2 to Section 375 of the IPC is under question, reminds Manu Sebastian. The Union repeatedly requested the court to defer the hearing because it is undertaking a consultative review of the IPC provisions. The High Court refused because “there is no terminal date” for the process and reserved judgement after hearing the parties. A clear stand was also not forthcoming from the Union on petitions challenging Section 377 of the IPC for criminalising consensual homosexual relations. It had filed an affidavit stating that “it leaves the matter to the wisdom of the court”. This “neutral stand” was not appreciated and Justice DY Chandrachud specifically criticised the Union for not taking a position.
The Centre has also revised its stand on minorities. In a fresh affidavit to the Supreme Court yesterday, it declared that it has the power to declare communities as minorities, but since the issue has far-reaching ramifications throughout the country, it should be allowed to have a detailed deliberation and wide consultation with the states and other stakeholders before finalising its stand.
Though the Delimitation Commission recommended nominating Kashmiri migrants and people displaced from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir to the J&K Assembly, Kashmiri migrants want to be rehabilitated first. The film ‘The Kashmir Files’ has been banned in Singapore by the country’s InfoComm Media Development Authority, on the grounds that it could disturb religious harmony. The IMDA said that it had consulted the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the Ministry of Home Affairs, and they found the film to have “exceeded the Film Classification Guidelines for its provocative and one-sided portrayal of Muslims and the depictions of Hindus being persecuted in the ongoing conflict in Kashmir.”
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A Reuters team of photographers consisting of four Indians, including the late Danish Siddiqui, were awarded a Pulitzer Prize last night for “images of Covid’s toll in India that balanced intimacy and devastation, while offering viewers a heightened sense of place”, according to the Pulitzer Prizes website. Meanwhile, the Indian government is desperately fighting the facts about the death toll.
New Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande has said that the basic issue with China remains the resolution of the boundary question but Beijing’s intent has been to keep it “alive”. He asserted that Indian troops are adequately deployed and the aim is to restore the status quo ante April 2020. “What we need as a country is a ‘whole of nation’ approach and in the military domain, [the goal] is to prevent and counter any attempt to alter the status quo at the LAC,” he added.
China yesterday asked India to investigate “in accordance with laws”, following smartphone maker Xiaomi’s claims of coercion during ongoing investigations into its financial practices. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, “We hope the Indian side can provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies making investments and operating in the country, and conduct investigation and law enforcement in accordance with laws and regulations so as to beef up the international community’s confidence in investment.” Xiaomi, in a court filing, claimed that its officials were threatened with consequences if they did not submit compliant statements, which the ED has rejected. The Karnataka High Court on Saturday stayed the April 29 order under which Rs 5,551.27 crore was seized under the Foreign Exchange Management Act.
Bloomberg reports that the Reserve Bank of India is intervening in all foreign exchange markets and will continue to do so to protect the rupee, which slid to a record low yesterday. Bloomberg cited “a person familiar with the matter.” (Also see Reportedly below)
Foreign institutional investors have broadly steered clear of India’s biggest share sale, the LIC IPO, deeming it too expensive given currency and global market risks. FIIs have put in orders for a mere 8% of the shares set aside for institutional buyers.
Yesterday, protests marked the death of two tribals in Seoni, who were accused of killing two cows. Bajrang Dal activists are said to have been involved in the incident and the police later said it uses “tips” from them to go after those who kill cows. The district offices had to face the crowds.
An investigation by Dainik Bhaskar in Rajasthan found that the reason the state’s intelligence agencies have failed to nip communal disturbances in the bud is because 60% of their time goes in providing the government ‘political’ information that is unrelated to law and order.
Following a backlash over IndiGo Airlines refusing to allow a child with special needs to board a plane in Ranchi with his family, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has decided to conduct a fact-finding probe into the incident and appointed a three-member committee.
The Polis Project has a photo feature on Rohingya refugees who fled Jammu, fearing violence.
More food inflation ahead
As the rupee depreciated to a historic low,
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