SC Hijab Verdict Split, Up Next is Challenge to Law on Converting Places of Worship; Mumbai’s Senas Arming for Civic Polls
SC hearing notebandi petitions but govt may want it to re-examine 1991 Places of Worship too, Section 66A refs to be scrubbed from cases, Singaporeans concerned about recruitment of Indian medics
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Snapshot of the day
October 13, 2022
The Supreme Court has delivered a split verdict in the hijab case, with Justice Hemant Gupta backing the ban in educational institutions while Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia “respectfully disagreed” because the education of girls is more important and the crux is freedom of choice. The matter will now be heard by a larger bench.
Ahead of the five-yearly Chinese Communist Party Congress, India and China discussed bilateral relations in Beijing. Ambassador Pradeep Kumar Rawat spoke with Liu Jinsong, Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs at the Foreign Ministry. The talks were “candid”, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. China has granted visas to 1,300 Indian students and nearly 300 businesspeople in recent weeks, though travel to the country remains a hurdle and at least 20,000 more students are waiting to return to campus. But Indian soldiers can still not patrol vast tracts of territory in Ladakh which were once their stomping ground.
“As India is the world’s largest democracy and a Major Defence Partner, the US and India will work together, bilaterally and multilaterally, to support our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” says the Biden administration’s first national security strategy, released yesterday. Also referring to multilateral and plurilateral mechanisms in which they are engaged, the strategy says that Beijing has “ambitions to create an enhanced sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific and to become the world’s leading power”.
The Union government has defended its decision to deport UK-based anthropologist Filippo Osella in March, saying that he was in the “highest category of blacklisting”. It told the Delhi High Court, “There was a lot of material because of which he had to be deported. There is more to it than meets the eyes.” The government urged the court to peruse the file as it was not possible to “disclose everything on an affidavit”. Justice Yashwant Varma asked the Union to file its written response before any privileged document was consulted. The matter will be heard next on February 23.
India has abstained again on Russia, with China and Pakistan, but the UN has passed a resolution demanding that Russia reverse the Ukraine annexations. The vote was 143-5 with 35 abstentions, the strongest support yet from the General Assembly for Ukraine.
Namibia claimed there was a quid pro quo in the deal for introducing cheetahs in India by the PM on his birthday ― India’s support on lifting the ban on ivory. It will be put to vote again in November. India has backed a total ban on the ivory trade since the 1980s.
The Supreme Court has again directed that no one should be prosecuted under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act 2000, which it struck down as unconstitutional in 2015 in the Shreya Singhal case. The court ordered Directors General of Police and Home Secretaries of all states to ensure that references to Section 66A are removed from all pending cases. The court also directed that the bare IT Act should adequately inform readers that Section 66A is invalidated. The People’s Union for Civil Liberties approached the court with the assistance of the Internet Freedom Foundation, raising issues about misuse of Section 66A.
A resident of Undhela village, where some Muslim men were flogged by Gujarat policemen in plainclothes for hurling stones at a garba event, has filed an affidavit with the local magistrate’s court accusing senior police officers and the local MLA of a “pre-planned conspiracy” for holding the garba at the village chowk, which was not the practice. In his affidavit in the Matar magistrate court, Ayubmiya Mirsabmiya Shaikh has named Kheda Deputy Superintendent of Police VR Bajpai, Undhela sarpanch Indravadan Patel, local BJP MLA Kesarisinh Solanki and a local police inspector as accused. Inspector AV Parmar and Sub-Inspector Kumavat, who were seen in a viral video of the public flogging, were also named as accused.
The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to furnish by October 31 its affidavit in response to petitions challenging the validity of provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which prohibit legal action to reclaim a place of worship or change its character from the status at Independence. When a bench headed by Chief Justice UU Lalit was told the Centre has not yet filed its response, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, said the response is under consideration. The court asked Mehta if the issue was covered by the Ayodhya verdict. “May not be covered. Because that was in a different context,” he replied.
On September 30, the Centre concluded a 75-day special drive to lift its dismal Covid-19 booster dose coverage. The promise of free “precautionary” doses for all adults raised coverage from 8% to 27%. However, more than 70% have skipped the booster shot, raising concerns during the festive season.
It turns out that many unvaccinated and deceased Indians are being issued vaccination certificates. A technical glitch? Whatever, it calls into question India’s claims of incredibly high vaccination rates.
A recent study by the non-profit iFOREST reported that India’s current environmental, land and labour laws cannot address the decommissioning of industries and thermal power plants (TPPs). According to the report, ‘Just Transition of Coal-Based Power Plants in India: A policy and regulatory review’, no specific laws are available. iFOREST CEO Chandra Bhushan said, “If the Ministry of Power’s advisory to retire coal-based generation units over 25 years old is implemented, then 50,000-60,000 MW capacity will have to retire by 2030.”
In a significant order, the Kerala High Court has held that the religion of parties is not a consideration for registering marriages under the Kerala Registration of Marriages (Common) Rules, 2008. Registration cannot be refused simply because a parent of one of the parties belongs to a different religion.
In September, Singapore’s Ministry of Health Holdings (MOHH) sought to appoint an agency to recruit 180 junior doctors from India over the next three years. Though locals would make up 90% of recruits, there is a backlash against the plan to hire doctors from India.
Teesta Setalvad, who was in custody for 57 days on the charge of falsifying evidence on the 2002 Gujarat riots, has spoken out about how she was roughed up during her arrest and trauma in jail, and unexpected rays of hope.
The Enforcement Directorate has filed a chargesheet against journalist Rana Ayyub for alleged ‘money laundering’, charges she has strongly denied. The case pertains to money raised by Ayyub for Covid relief.
Read economist and activist Jean Dreze’s tribute to his late father, Jacques Dreze.
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