SC: Govt Accommodation for Ex-CMs and PMs and Presidents?

The Supreme Court today took notice of the fact while hearing a petition against the legislative order of the Akhilesh Yadav Government, which gave the luxury of government bungalows to the ex-CM.

The Supreme Court while stressing that it was going beyond the scope of the present matter, asked the Central and State governments to openly put forth their views on the matter, as there are other states and central rules to the same effect.

The basic point that comes before us, and the stakeholders in the system, is, that why do people who withdraw good salaries, and then if they are not elected again, survive on benefits, be entitled to an added expenditure on the government exchequer that too when the people  rejected their tenure through the ballot.

The question of moral integrity and financial prudence, would promote the sense of a total dissociation from the state exchequer till they are elected again.

The holding of government bungalows is a common feature with the MPs, MLAs, and not to mention those who have had cabinet ranks. The ministers develop an attachment with their status as being on the payroll of the state and the Chief Ministers, Prime Ministers, and the Presidents or Governors, do not appear to be eligible for any government bungalow once they have demitted the office.

The need rests in the status and life-long comfort at the expense of the State, and enjoying a prime property at a prime location that could not have fitted in the means of a legislator’s salary.

The government’s will come forward with arguments from all corners, while nobody will focus on the pressing need to provide them with an accommodation in a government bungalow.

The issue will have to be expanded to far limits where the parties must also disclose that why does one, who has held an august office, feel himself entitled to a government bungalow.

The government properties anyway require a very serious restructuring exercise, as there is a shortage of land for offices of the government departments, while the governments lease offices at high costs in commercial locations, the prime located government bungalow, that is being maintained out of the public money shall be put to some better use, over allotting the same to a dignitary who lost his office.

 

Haj Subsidy Farewell

The issue seems to have been simmering on the boil since a 2 judge bench of Justice Aftab Alam, in the year 2012 ordered the government of India to do away with Haj subsidies in 10 years time. Prior to this a bench of Justice Markandey Katju declared the provision of subsidies on Haj travel as very well within the meaning and scope of Article 27 of the Constitution of India.

There is a final farewell to the issue of subsidies to Haj pilgrims, while the political discourse is now being dominated with all kinds of heated debates over communalism.

The case is not one of Communalism, but is a case of stripping Air India of all kinds of emoluments it received from the State. Air India has been the only carrier to have ferried passengers from India to Mecca and Medina. The majority sources of earnings for Air India came from the fare subsidy that the government paid directly to the company, meanwhile rest of  the charges were taken by the Saudi government. Leaving no actual benefits arising to the one taking pilgrimage. The future of the discourse has been around many political parties trying to appease Muslims by attacking the subsidies given to Hindu pilgrims by the states governed by BJP, or the Jerusalem subsidy given to Christians by the Tamil Nadu government.

The Quran does not mandate pilgrimage to Mecca, and it expresses that only those, who have been bestowed with the necessary financial capability to undertake the Haj, while the others aren’t. The Haj subsidy dates back to 1932, which has been the oldest surviving patronization to a particular community.

Haj subsidy was often viewed as a minority appeasement tactic, and the pilgrimage subsidies being offered to other communities has been described as a backlash to the Haj subsidy.

While the media may declare openly that no benefits accrued to the one undertaking pilgrimage, the over all expenditure incurred was considerably reduced. The subsidy added a burden on limited funds at bay for the betterment of the minorities, as we see today, that instead on investing heavily on providing modern education to Muslims, the State had been busy providing them subsidies for going on Haj.

The monies thus saved from subsidies shall now be utilised for creating a better environment in the madarsas and also provide other opportunities that make the Musims of India more mainstream and secure.

The argument that the State must do away any religious subsidies is one founded on a sane logic that religion must be dissociated from the polity, but the fact that the amount spent on Hindu pilgrimages is a very small figure as compared to that of the Haj subsidy. Also. many people in the old age, who have at least half the needed funds undertake Chaar Dham Yatra.

The states have laid down stringent norms while selecting people for Hindu pilgrimages, and only the elderly are allowed. This makes the argument weak, though there must be a dissociation of religion from State, thus any kind of state support to pursue one’s spiritual inclinations is opposed.

 

 

The Khap Panchayat and The Freedom to Love: SC

The Supreme Court today while dealing with a petition filed in 2010 by an NGO Shakti Vahini, talked about the concept of falling in love and marrying their chosen one.

There have been incidents of violence against the couple, who choose their own life and way forward, defying the rules and norms laid down by the community and the society. Such incidents are known as honour killing where the couple’s peaceful co-existence and individual lives are put to danger just because they went against the rules laid down by their fathers, brothers and their community.

The famous Khap Panchayats of the villages, which have on several occasions used the mandate of the village to scuttle not only the individual freedom, but also have acted as a bar to prevent any maturity on the part of the elders of the community over issues that call for evolution with time, but are dear to them due to age old cherished beliefs and customs.

The tyranny of the Khap Panchayats continues to be one of the kind which transgresses to the levels of intolerance, for example the occasions where the Panchayats banned the use of cellphones by young girls and wearing of jeans or skin fit lower garments were barred. There have even such situations where Panchayats have assumed the roles of a Family Court, thereby adjudicating the potency of the spouses,or annulling the marriage completely.

This does not end here when they, in the name of honour conjure the people to meddle with an inter-religious marriage or an inter-caste marriage. Such occasions are seen to have happened on many occasions. This does not only happen in the villages, but also is a feature in Tier-2 cities of India that are a home to the most rapidly evolving population in the country, not to mention the Tier-3 cities.

The social intolerance breeds high in various communities and the woman/girl who chooses to take a  man from another caste as her partner for life, is often subjected to the illusory honour that surrounds the girl, and is destructive to the father and the brother,or rather the entire family, and the community too.

It is a very simple expression of homogamous marriages being exaggerated to an extent where it becomes impossible for the people to accept the individual freedom of the girl and the boy involved.

The halo of honour has led to several couples living in a situation of spite and threat, or even getting killed which has not been monitored by the Police. The Police is not most of the times aware of any such threat, because such couples live under the belief that law would not aid their association, while the Supreme Court in  the spirit of giving a sigh of relief to such lovers, has allowed them to live, without fear, though there may  be no law, yet the concept shall be evolved.

The bench comprising of the Chief Justice, and Justice DY Chandrachud, and AM Khanwiljar, has done a great job, yet the evolution of the principles need various quarters to walk in for a more productive approach to the controversies that surround love marriages in India.

 

‘Politico-Military’ Approach is No Approach, General Saahab

With Supreme Court of India dealing with the status of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, the overall status of Kashmir, still hangs in an abyss.

The Wazir-e-Azam of Jammu and Kashmir, recently reminded the people of Kashmir that the only benefit of the Kashmiris, as a people, lies in India. The Kashmiri Separatists have for long held on to two agendas, one being siding with Kashmir, while the other remains to form an independent nation for Kashmiris.

The ideas also has been garnering support within ranks of Pakistani establishment since partition as Kashmir remains one of the ever green contentious issue that India has been faced with.

The scenario today is about outrage and protests fomenting due to AFSPA, which has blessed the state with a woeful story of massacres and inhuman atrocities being perpetrated by the military in the valley.

The AFSPA started with the onset of militancy and war against Pandits of the valley. The AFSPA got more veracity due the support offered to the infiltrators by the Kashmiris to Pakistani militants who have actually abused the state and the government machinery there.

Today, with the information age taking strides in India, the whole of the world is talking about the grief of Kashmiris while we don’t talk about the Anti-Pandit riots and racketeering that took place in the valley.

The Valley today, is a lifeless place which is blessed with immense bounty of nature, the whole issue is based on the premise that the Muslims inhabiting Kashmir don’t feel that they are a part of India.

The military has been rough with the people due to their violent activities that are often aimed against India and the prevalence of militancy in the State. The military general of the day, Gen. Bipin Rawat suggested that a ‘politico-military’ approach remains the most logical approach to Kashmir is not correct.

The author is an Indian by blood, and fully endorses the efforts made by Dineshwar Sharma, the interlocutor appointed by the central government to deal with the issues, yet there exists a fault-line that nobody is willing to acknowledge.

Despite the number of sops for Kashmiris, the divide is germinating from the sense of minority vs majority  that has kept the Indian subcontinent divided over for years.

Today, also the Indian state is being perceived as an oppressor by the people of the valley who possibly do not hold sensitive views towards secularism. A political solution simply aims to address the issues pertaining to representation, and bargaining with the State, while the military solution means to address every act with a bullet.

The solution has to come with a ‘Socio-Political’ approach, where the military is only left to the borders. The social moulding and mobilisation will need social leaders, and religious leaders from the various communities to hold proper dialogues and address the issues that seem to spread hate, and gather the popular support of the masses in the valley.

A socio-political approach shall be one which aims to make the negotiating or rather conciliating parties form a people’ common minimum programme under which a peaceful co-existence is worded.

The future for the Kashmir issue must be addressed at the earliest while the Indian State as well as the Kashmiris may do some self-check.

Legislators Must Not Take Up Practice Before The Courts

The Bar Council of India in furtherance of a petition filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyaya before the Supreme Court of India, has stated that why not a Legislator, an MP, and an MLA be designated as public servant that falls within the definition of the employee-employer relationship, has issued a circular for comments from the legislators, whether they must be banned from practicing in the Courts of law as and when they assume offices.

There is a wide range of debate centered around this issue, where there exists a strong case against the prevalent practice.

The rules of the Advocates Act, specifically bar the persons who are in services under some specific authority whereby drawing an emolument as employment, which is full time. This leads us to ponder, why the Supreme Court of India in the case of M.Karunanidhi vs Union of India declared that the relationship of a legislator with that of the State is not one of an employer-employee, while the legislators do fall in the meaning of the definition of the Public Servants in the legislation.

The issue has another flaw, that rests on the concept that these legislators while they are in power, they receive emoluments from their respective clients, and in certain cases, are parties against the State as well. The ultimate employer of the legislator is the state concerned. This brings in another fact that the Constitution bars the legislators from being involved in any employment other than that of the State itself. The employment means that they must not hold any office of profit apart from that they hold.

This also brings their unavailability to devote their expertise to the profession of law, and the most important job of the legislator. The job of a legislator just does not involve attending the proceeding in the house, but involves at making the lives of the voters better by serving them in the House. Legislators need to visit their constituencies, and conduct surveys, aid in the law making process and much more. The legislators sadly do not devote the necessary time, which is why find many ayarams and gayarams in politics.

The inevitability of lawyers for the political profession is known to all, the logical and the legal expertise that follows them, has from ancient times as they contribute to the the evolution of law.  While today, they spend time elsewhere, they have not time to devote to the profession of law.

This is also handicapped by the fact that the lawyers who  are legislators have the power to initiate impeachment proceedings against the judges they plead before, while they may use their clout to threaten the judges with any adversities, or their fellow lawyers, they may also abuse the powers.

The politics in judiciary also acts as a mode of publicity which is used in the District Courts and continues upto the higher Courts. The advocates assuming roles as legislators advertise themselves over the expense of the state, get to distinguish themselves over others, this is not under the ethics of the legal profession thus they must be beyond doubt be barred from practicing.

The professions of other callings, like CA, CS, Engineers and Doctors, among others who take up the profession of politician must be barred from practicing their professions and devote their time to the political profession only.

The law must build a a consensus, on this issue and bar the legislators from taking up practice along with the same, as it is unethical and is not healthy for the esteem of the legislative profession.

 

Administering the Supreme Court Through the Media

As four senior judges of the Supreme Court coming out through a press conference against the Supreme Court of India, the entire legal fraternity as well as the people have been thrown into a frenzy.

Justices Ranjan Gogoi, M.B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph, Justice J Chelameswar, today appeared before the national media today and allegedly broke their silence over the fact that the incumbent Chief Justice of India is one who is not discharging his duties with the due diligence required.

The further call has been that the democracy is being led into danger.

The responses coming in from over the various quarters are falling in every spectrum of morality, while the justices urged the Prime Minister to intervene in the matter urgently.

If there existed some apprehensions of this, or if there were such appalling and urgent circumstances, the justices may have done it confidentially, as has been done on many innumerable occasions.

The direct impact that  the media exposure and the hovering possibilities of a media trial have led to demean the highest Court of the land. The tussle involved, has dented the overall trust that has been reposed in the judiciary by the people.

The direct allegation by the Senior Judges, has been that the CJI, is promoting s preferential allotment of cases, which is detrimental to natural justice.

The allegation, and the call, has such consequences, and the impact of the same may be felt in the days to come, with the Judiciary condemning or boycotting the proceedings emanating from the misinformation propaganda against the CJI.

The office of the CJI is one of the most influential offices in the country, and there has been one incident in the Prasad Medical College case, where Senior Advocate, Prashant Bhushan waived an FIR registered against the CJI in Orissa.

This incident took the CJI by alarm, and then he declared himself to be the last authority after the Registrar General of the Supreme Court, in the administrative side.

The allegations today, may have certain truth lying beneath these as the judges who pursued the trajectory, are known to be honest and responsible judges. The judges might have also tried to follow an in-house resolution system that possibly failed, while the judges’ who have take this extra measure will have to answer collectively not just to the institution, but also the nation.

It is also to be noted that yesterday the Supreme Collegium cleared the names of Senior Advocate Indu Malhotra and Judges KM Joseph for elevation to the Supreme Court, while it cleared certain names for appointment to the High Court as well.

The Judges have also take note of the fact that they are not giving a political statement , but they are cautioning the nation. The caution also comes at a price of the reputation of the judiciary.

The matter is now in the public, and while the media trials are not allowed, the judges have submitted yet the entire judiciary to the trial by the media. Though the urgency and the veracity of the disclosure are not yet confirmed, but the damage has been done. And a fact finding will have to be commenced at  the earliest to bring the matter to truth.

 

Probing the Prayers: SC

A bench of justices Navin Sinha and RF Nariman sent notices to the Kendriya Vidyalayas for their ritual of prayer in the morning assembly, which were Hindu prayers, and were obligatory for all the students to offer prayers, irrespective of their faith.

The petition is moved by a lawyer based in MP, who learnt from his children that they were subjected to the same ritual. The petitioner states that that instead of building scientific temper in the tender minds, the country’s largest school, is promoting fantasies and  a culture of relying on something that they don’t know over themselves.

The petitioner has also asserted that the prayers in Hindi and Sanskrit are imposed on students from the minority communities as well, who might not find it to be in consonance with their religious beliefs, and it maybe impermissible under the Constitution.

The SC, in response to the said petition, shot off a notice to the government and the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, and also ordered them to end the practice, pending further orders.

Justice Nariman branded it as a serious issue pertaining to a violation of one’s religious rights in one go. The move will have very far and wide ranging repercussions in the society.

The matter ha not been viewed from a perspective which forms the basic feature of the Indian society, while the petitioner stated that he had no personal interest, but it was for the minorities that he feels, he will be doing a service. While this issue has come to the fore, the petitioner has not taken the notice of the fact the missionary schools, and other minority schools, have a trend to promote their methods of prayers, while at the same time promoting their religion.

This fact also need to be inspected from the roots of the societal values where the majority people irrespective of their caste, and religion, give  a prominent place to the concept of a Supreme Person, in-charge of their lives.

This fact, has its echo in the very schools of our system that cater to the same masses, the name of the lord is invoked to bring down positivity and inculcate values in the students, as has been argued over by prominent educationists over the years.

The fact that prayers in Hindi or Sanskrit are violative of religious beliefs of people, will have to be adjudged from the perspective of the contents of the prayers itself. In the worst case scenarios where the prayer refers to God as a Supreme Person, in any term which excludes idolatry, or cult, shall not be brought in question.

The society has fluctuating morals, while religion provides a constant set of basic human values, is another argument, which will stand good today’s times, while the State must promote a cult of cultural sensitization, while at the same time inculcating morals, the Court will have to take a task which shall not be very fruitful in its outcome.

The Court will have to define morality and supplant strong arguments against theology. Also the Court will have to take on the minority institutions for preaching in their own ways too.