Apex court takes State govt. to task in Church case
The Supreme Court on Tuesday lashed out at the State government, asking whether it is “above the rule of law” and admonished the Chief Secretary for not implementing the court’s judgment on July 3, 2017 resolving a prolonged dispute between the Orthodox-Jacobite factions on the management of the parish churches in Malankara.
The Supreme Court had upheld the 1934 constitution of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and dismissed a dozen review petitions filed by the Jacobite faction (which now functions as Jacobite Syrian Christian Church) in a decision which impacted over 2,000 parish churches and 30 million followers of the Church across the world.
The observations were made by Justice Arun Mishra, who was leading a Bench comprising Justice M.R. Shah, on a plea filed by the Orthodox faction for police protection to worship in the Kattachira and Varikoli churches.
The appeal was made before the apex court after the Kerala High Court decided that police protection was necessary only in case of law and order problem, not otherwise.
The High Court had given worshippers liberty to approach the police in case of any apprehension of a law and order problem.
However, Justice Mishra considered the situation and said it suggested that the State was “making a mockery of the justice delivery system”. Justice Mishra said there have been two judgments from the Supreme Court itself resolving the issue, and the court would not intervene again. The judge asked why the State still finds it difficult to implement court orders.
“Tell your Chief Secretary that if he intends to go against the Supreme Court’s order, we will call everyone here. Is Kerala above rule of law? You are making a mockery of the justice delivery system,” Justice Mishra addressed senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, for Kerala.
“What is happening in the country? If they feel that they can do things like this, we will call everyone here. This is not the way the Supreme Court can be treated,” Justice Mishra orally observed.
On November 16, 2017, a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and (now retired) Amitava Roy had upheld their July 3 judgment which had reiterated a 1995 verdict of the Supreme Court that the 1934 constitution of the Malankara Church governs the parish churches under it.
The Bench had, with their July judgment, brought a finality to the over 100-year-old dispute between the faction with allegiance to the Patriarch of Antioch (Jacobites) and the Catholicos of the East (Orthdox faction) – the two powerful factions of the Malankara Church, believed to be established in AD 52 by St. Thomas.
The apex court had twice previously intervened in the dispute between the two groups – once in 1958 and the second time in 1995. On both occasions, the apex court had upheld the validity of the 1934 constitution to administer the parish churches. The July 3 judgment was the third time the court had stepped in.
U.K. High Court allows Mallya to appeal
The U.K. High Court on Tuesday allowed embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya to appeal at least on one of the five grounds against his extradition order signed off by the U.K. Home Secretary to face alleged fraud and money laundering charges amounting to Rs. 9,000 crore in India.
A Bench of the Royal Courts of Justice comprising Justices George Leggatt and Andrew Popplewell made the conclusion after hearing the arguments.
The Bench said that the arguments can be reasonably made on some of Westminster Magistrates’ Court Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot’s conclusions in her prima facie case ruling.
Earlier, the 63-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines head said he was feeling “positive”.
Representatives from the Indian High Commission in London were present in court to observe the proceedings.
Mr. Mallya, accompanied by his son Sidharth and partner Pinky Lalwani, watched as his barrister, Clare Montgomery, began by reiterating many of her arguments laid out during the extradition trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last year.
Ms. Montgomery characterised aspects of the Chief Magistrate’s ruling as “plain wrong”.
Bangladesh seeks to synergise ties with India
Bangladesh on Tuesday said the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wishes to continue cooperation with the re-elected Modi government and urged for dignified return of the Rohingya refugees from camps in Chittagong to Myanmar.
Delivering a keynote speech at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Rohtak, Syed Muazzem Ali called for bilateral synergy and closer cooperation between Dhaka and New Delhi. He reiterated Dhaka’s demand for bringing international pressure on Myanmar to end the Rohingya crisis and said, “What we are working on is the early, safe and dignified repatriation of the Rohingyas to their home in Myanmar.”
The comments are the first since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge in May. Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid participated in the swearing-in of the Modi government.
Ms. Hasina, who did not participate, congratulated Mr. Modi on phone and both the leaders had agreed to identify dates for a meeting at the earliest.
Mr. Modi is soon expected to travel to various South Asian capitals. He visited Maldives and Sri Lanka in June and reports suggest that he will travel to Bhutan in the coming weeks, though the exact date is yet to be announced. Diplomatic sources pointed out that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met the Bangladeshi envoy.
Outreach to China:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s five-day visit to China that began on Monday is aimed at seeking Beijing’s assurances to resolve the Rohingya crisis.
Dhaka and Beijing are expected to sign energy deals that are connected to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Govt. bats for sharing biological research data
A draft note from the government on use and sharing of biological data requires researchers who collect such data and use public funds for the same, to ensure that this data is made public within two years at the latest.
The draft document, called the Biological Data Storage, Access and Sharing Policy of India, is primarily meant to address a long-standing peeve among many scientists, that several scientists use government funds to conduct research and collect biological specimens and data such as DNA samples, cell and tissue samples, store these details in databases and often lock them up — sometimes for good, barring access to other researchers and scientists who may be interested in them. This leads to duplication of data collection exercises, lost opportunities to access data collected over the years and a wastage of public money.
“Raw (Level-1) data must be shared, by placement on a database identified and approved by the funding agency of the Government of India, within one year of generation of the data. If no such database is identified by the agency, then raw data must be made available to anyone working in any Indian institution, public or private, requesting for these data,” says the draft note which is open for public comments until July 31.
While data generated from public funds will now be open to private companies too, the data has to be excised of all features that would identify individuals, the draft note adds.
Army nod to tax pension for disability
Responding to growing criticism over a Finance Ministry decision to tax the disability pension of military personnel, Minister Nirmala Sitharaman put the onus for the initiative on the Army.
In a message on Twitter, Ms. Sitharaman’s office put out an unsigned note calling it the “response of the Armed Forces on the issue of taxability of disability pension”, which states that “unscrupulous personnel” have found leverage in the existing system for seeking financial gains through their disabilities.
Disability is granted to personnel who are disabled in combat or during peace and their disability is attributable to service conditions, the note states.
“There should be no segregation amongst genuinely disabled personnel. At the same time, those who have found the leverages in the existing system for seeking financial gains through their disabilities, need to be scrutinised and taken to task, wherever necessitated,” the note added.
SC seeks EC response on cash transfer schemes
The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought a response from the Election Commission of India (ECI) on a plea to declare the implementation of direct cash transfer schemes such as the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, by “parties in power” in the Centre and six States immediately before or during polls as “illegal and unconstitutional” and contrary to the “right of equal participation of each citizen in polity.”
The Court issued the notice on a writ petition filed by Pentapati Pulla Rao, represented by senior advocate Santosh Pal and advocate Sravan Kumar. Mr. Rao was a contestant from the Eluru Parliamentary constituency in Andhra Pradesh on a JanaSena Party ticket.
Mr. Rao has arraigned, besides the ECI, the Centre and States Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand as respondents in the petition. He alleged that these States had done cash transactions to sections of voters under various direct cash transfer schemes during or just before the polls.
Besides the PM kisan scheme, the schemes mentioned in the petition are Pasupu Kumkuma, NTR Atmabandhu, Rytu Bandhu, KALIA and Mukhya Mantri Krishi Yojana.
The plea sought action under Article 324 and Section 123 of the Representation of People Act.
‘Note ban did not affect economy’
India continues to be the fastest growing economy and demonetisation has had no effect on it, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Rajya Sabha.
Responding to supplementaries during the Question Hour, she said the manufacturing sector had taken a hit, but it was not attributable to demonetisation. Ms. Sitharaman said “the moderation in growth momentum in 2018-19 is primarily on account of lower growth in agriculture and allied sectors and trade, hotel, transport, storage, communication and services related to broadcasting and public administration and defence sectors.”
Classical status for Marathi under consideration
A proposal for granting Marathi the status of a classical language was under “active consideration,” Union Minister of State (independent charge) Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel told Rajya Sabha.
Criteria for declaration of a language as a Classical Language are:
High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years;
A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers;
The literary tradition should be original and not borrowed from another speech community;
The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.
The government of India has declared Tamil, Sanskrit, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Odiya as classical languages.
The benefits that will accrue to a language declared as “Classical Language” are:
Two major international awards for scholars of eminence in Classical Indian Languages are awarded annually.
A ‘Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Languages’ will be set up.
The University Grants Commission will be requested to create, to start with at least in the Central Universities, a certain number of Professional Chairs for Classical Languages for scholars of eminence in Classical Indian Languages.
Culture Minister flags off Kailash yatris
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel flagged off a group of pilgrims leaving for the Kailash Mansarovar yatra. Speaking at the event, he said the government was open to feedback, even if negative, from the pilgrims to make the yatra better for them.
The government had moved an application to include the yatra in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites earlier this year.
Kailash Manasarovar Yatra:
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra (KMY) is known for its religious importance, cultural significance and arduous nature. The annual pilgrimage holds religious importance for Hindus, Jains and Buddhists. The Yatra is organized by the government of India in close cooperation with the Government of the People’s Republic of China. State Governments of Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Delhi, and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited (KMVN) are other major Indian partners of the Ministry in organizing the Yatra.
Mansarovar Lake is located at an altitude of 14,950 ft (4,558 m) is said to be the highest freshwater lake in the world. It is located in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China, 940 kilometres from Lhasa. To the west of it is Lake Rakshastal and to the north is Mount Kailash.
Senate Bill grants India NATO ally-like status
The U.S. Senate has passed a legislative provision that brings India at par with America’s NATO allies and countries such as Israel and South Korea for increasing defence cooperation.
The National Defense Authorisation Act, or NDAA, for the fiscal year 2020, which contained such a proposal, was passed by the U.S. Senate last week.
Introduced by Senate India Caucus co-chair Senator John Cornyn with the support of Senate India Caucus co-chair Senator Mark Warner, the amendment provides for increased U.S.-India defence cooperation in the Indian Ocean, in the areas of humanitarian assistance, counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and maritime security.
Last week, House India Caucus Co-Chair Brad Sherman, along with Congressmen Joe Wilson, Ami Bera, Ted Yoho, George Holding, Ed Case and Raja Krishnamoorthi, introduced a similar legislative proposal to the House FY2020 NDAA that would greatly enhance relationship between both the countries.
The Bill would be signed into law after both the chambers of the U.S. Congress — the House of Representatives and the Senate — passes it.
The House is expected to take up its version of the NDAA sometime in July before legislators adjourn for the month-long August recess on July 29.
In a statement, the Hindu American Foundation commended Senators Cornyn and Warner for their efforts in advancing the U.S.-India strategic partnership.
About North Atlantic Treaty Organization (North Atlantic Alliance):
Significance: It constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
Political – NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
Military – NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO’s founding treaty – Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organisations.