Supreme Court Upholds Legal Validity of Demonetisation But Outs RBI as Rubber Stamp Bank of India; Gerrymandering Before Assam Delimitation
Govt suddenly highlights Muslims killed in Kashmir, amoeba-like NFDC absorbs film bodies, Delhi, 1857: A world turned upside down, Amul won’t absorb Nandini, Persian lingers on in India’s legalese
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Snapshot of the day
January 2, 2023
A five judge bench of the Supreme Court has held, 4 to 1, that the Modi government’s controversial November 2016 decision to demonetise 1000 and 500 rupee notes was legally valid, even if the objectives meant to be served were not met. Adopting a narrow, technical approach, the majority verdict, authored by Justice BR Gavai ruled that the government’s decision was valid under Section 26(2) of The Reserve Bank of India Act of 1934, which allowed it to demonetise any series of bank notes if the RBI’s Board recommended that this be done. In her dissent, Justice BV Nagarathna made two important points. First, that the RBI Board’s ‘recommendation’ was not a recommendation in the strict sense, nor was it made with any application of mind. She noted that the proposal actually came from the Union Government in the form of a letter to the RBI on November 7, 2016. This made it clear that the recommendation to demonetise all Rs 500 and 1000 notes “did not originate from the bank under Section 26(2) of the RBI Act but was obtained from the bank by the Central Government. A proposal originating from the Central Government is not akin to a proposal originating from the Central Board of the Bank.”
Second, she noted that Section 26(2) of the RBI Act allowed the government to demonetise a “series” of currency notes of a denomination but not all currency notes, and that such a major step should have been taken by the legislature and not the executive.
However, both the majority and dissenting judgments have clearly brought out the shocking timeline behind the move: 24 hours. This makes it clear that the RBI did not bother to critically examine the proposal and reflect on its consequences for the economy and the lives of millions but merely rubber-stamped a decision the government had taken for it. Leaving aside the debate that its verdict is bound to trigger, the fact that it has taken the Supreme Court more than six years to rule on this question will be seen as a poor reflection on the independence of the judiciary.
Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy or CMIE data reveals that the unemployment rate has risen to a 16-month high of 8.3% in December 2022. The urban unemployment rate rose to 10.09% from 8.96% in November, while the rural unemployment rate showed a small decline to 7.44% from 7.55%.
Maruti Suzuki India reports a 9% decline in total wholesales in December 2022 as compared to a year ago, the company said in an official statement.
The 205th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle passed without incident. Lakhs of Ambedkarites from across the country congregated near the victory pillar in Perne village in Pune district yesterday, under heavy security cover. Crowds had been gathering since Saturday evening to pay tribute to the Mahar soldiers who fought against the Peshwa’s forces in the 1818 battle. Meanwhile, BBC Hindi has a detailed report looking at the 16 persons who were incarcerated for years over events surrounding the 200th anniversary of Bhima-Koregaon. The trial is yet to begin. How did this issue arise? In an interview with Ajaz Ashraf, former judge Justice Kolse Patil alleges that it was personal animus against Justice PM Sawant.
India has (again!) abstained in a UN vote on a resolution seeking the opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of Israel’s “prolonged occupation” and annexation of Palestinian territory. The draft resolution ‘Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem’ was nevertheless adopted by the General Assembly, with 87 votes in favour, 26 against and 53 abstentions, including by India.
Pakistan and India yesterday exchanged a list of their nuclear installations that cannot be attacked in case of an escalation in hostilities, a Pakistan Foreign Office statement said, as part of an annual ritual of over three decades’ standing, practised since January 1, 1992. The lists of nuclear installations and facilities were exchanged as per the provisions of Article-II of the Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities, signed on December 31, 1988 and ratified on January 27, 1991. This exchanging of lists has continued since January 1, 1992. India has called on Pakistan to release and repatriate 631 Indian fishermen and two civilian prisoners who have completed their jail term and whose nationality has been confirmed. It has also called for immediate consular access to the remaining 30 fishermen and 22 civilian prisoners in Pakistan's custody, who are believed to be Indians.
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Former Army Chief Gen VP Malik (retd) lists five changes that India needs to make in dealing with China on the border. “Why do we continue to use terms like “our” and “their” perceptions of the LAC? When the Government of India has given maps on which the LAC is marked and expects the military to ensure that no territory is lost, such little-known perceptions of the LAC invariably cause a fiasco while explaining the situation in Parliament and to the public. The Chinese do not use the terminology of perception in their statements.”
There is little cheer for the families of eight former Indian Navy personnel detained in solitary confinement in Qatar this August, as the government’s response remains perfunctory and proforma. On August 30, they were picked up by Qatari intelligence. None has been charged with a crime, and their records are impeccable. They worked for Dahra Global Technologies & Consulting Services, which trains Qatari navy personnel. The company’s CEO, an Omani national, was released just before the beginning of the FIFA Football World Cup.
Haryana minister Sandeep Singh, who has been booked in a sexual harassment case, yesterday gave up his sports portfolio. This was a day after Chandigarh Police registered an FIR against the BJP leader and former captain of the Indian hockey team on charges of sexual harassment and wrongful confinement, on a complaint of a woman junior athletics coach from Haryana. He is retaining the printing and stationery ministry.
The National Investigation Agency has registered an all time high of terror cases in 2022: 73. Officers told the media on Sunday that they are taking a “whole of ecosystem” approach to dismantle terrorist networks that aim to harm India.
About 31,000 complaints of crimes committed against women were received by the National Commission for Women (NCW) in 2022, the highest number since 2014. PTI reports that 9,710 were related to the right to live with dignity, including emotional abuse, followed by 6,970 related to domestic violence and 4,600 due to dowry harassment. About 54.5% of complaints were received from UP.
Dhirendra Jha writes on the Jharkhand government’s proposed Sarna code, a separate religious classification in the census for Adivasis. The RSS, he writes, thought it could succeed in its Hinduisation mission with superficial socio-cultural activities in tribal regions. But now, as it faces serious ideological pushback, it is on the back foot.
Home Minister and Minister for Cooperatives Amit Shah’s comments in Karnataka suggesting that Gujarat’s Amul and Karnataka’s popular dairy brand Nandini could be merged had come under fire, because the brand is part of Karnataka’s identity. The uproar has forced Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to rule out the possibility of a merger.
BCCI has shortlisted 20 players for the 2023 Men’s World Cup. They will be rotated for proper preparation before the 2023 World Cup in India, it was decided by Rahul Dravid, skipper Rohit Sharma, chief selector Chetan Sharma and NCA head VVS Laxman, along with Jay Shah and Roger Binny. BCCI said that the National Cricket Academy (NCA) will “work in tandem with the IPL franchisee to monitor the targeted Indian players participating in the IPL 2023,” emphasising the unit as the nodal centre for the fitness of Indian players. There will also be no compromise on the fitness aspect with Yo-Yo test being the chief criteria. “The Yo-Yo Test and Dexa will now be part of selection criteria and implemented in the customised roadmaps of the central pool of players,” the BCCI said after the meeting.
From a small town in Telangana’s Adilabad, Rajashekar Bhupathi is a college dropout and among the animators of Avatar 2. He is a VFX compositor.
Restofworld.org reports that in 2022, 15 of the top 20 most-used songs on Instagram Reels globally were from Indian artistes. Some of the most popular ‘Srivalli’ by Javed Ali, ‘Baarish Mein Tum’ by Neha Kakkar, ‘Kesariya’ by Arijit Singh and ‘Gypsy’ by GD Kaur.
Government changes tune on suffering of Pandits
In a somewhat macabre twist to the woes of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, an anti-government agitation by Pandit employees
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