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Delhi High Court’s remarks political rather than legal: experts

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New Delhi: Senior legal experts yesterday denounced the Delhi High Court’s remarks on nationalism and love for the nation while granting bail to JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar.

Judge Pratibha Rani’s observations are a part of a judicial trend which needs to be curbed right away, leading advocates said, with one dubbing them “totally uncalled for, unwarranted and unfortunate”.

Senior lawyers said the judge appeared to be broadly espousing the official line on the events at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) where Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on February 12 on charges of sedition.

He was accused of raising anti-India slogans at a meeting organised to mark the execution of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, a militant from Jammu and Kashmir. Kanhaiya Kumar has repeatedly denied the charge.

The high court judge, while granting six-month interim bail to Kanhaiya Kumar, reminded him his fundamental duties, love for the country, nationalism and the sacrifices soldiers were making and the demoralizing effect that anti-India slogans had on the families of martyrs.

Pointing out that the observations had been lapped up by government circles and right-wing groups, activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan told reporters: “It is a political rather than a legal judgement.”

“The judge has no business to expound on nationalism or anti-nationalism which is not an offence under the law.”

He added: “Nationalism is not defined anywhere and is not a ground on which freedom of speech can be restricted.”

“By expounding on this issue, the judge seems to have played into the hands of those who are using this as a political weapon to drum up fascist hysteria in this country.”

Echoing Bhushan’s sentiments, Supreme Court Bar Association president and senior counsel Dushyant Dave described the observations as “totally uncalled for, unwarranted and unfortunate”.

He added: “Judges must stay away from political debate.”

Saying Kanhaiya Kumar deserved unconditional bail, Dave said: “Nationalism is not a part of judges’ function to write about. They must confine to law and not emotive issues.”

Former Delhi High Court judge Rupinder Singh Sodhi said that making loose observations was an unfortunate trend that the judiciary was adopting. “I think this trend has to stop now and immediately.”

Justice Sodhi, also a senior lawyer in the Supreme Court, says granting interim bail had no legal precedent.

“All bails are interim in nature and can be cancelled at any time. Ordinarily, an interim bail is granted to fulfill an extreme social obligation which the court can always accommodate. As a rule, bail can either be granted or dismissed.”

Another leading lawyer who did not wish to be identified by name said that while attempting to define nationalism in a pluralistic society, the judge seemed to have overstepped her judicial limits.

“Her observations are symptomatic of all that ails Indian judiciary and deserve to be expunged.” (Parmod Kumar, IANS)

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Publishers Body Welcomes HC Order Lifting Non-NCERT Book Ban

"The ruling, in addition to providing convenience to children and parents, will also enable them to choose books depending on their preference,"

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Good education can reduce the impact of childhood abuse. Pixabay
Good education can reduce the impact of childhood abuse. Pixabay

The Association of Publishers in India (API) on Tuesday welcomed the Delhi High Court order which stipulated that sale of non-NCERT books must not be disallowed in CBSE-affiliated schools, calling the practice “discriminatory”.

“The court decision exemplifies the point that an ideal education system is the one that recognizes the role of multiple stakeholders and is learner-centric. The decision has been welcomed by not just students and parents but also by schools, private publishers, authors and others as it symbolizes ‘freedom of choice’ in education,” the representative body of publishers of academic texts said in a statement.

ALSO READ: The glorious tales of Chaar Sahibzaade to be included in NCERT syllabi

“The ruling, in addition to providing convenience to children and parents, will also enable them to choose books depending on their preference,” it said.

NCERT
Arguing that the sale of books, stationery and other items sold by the school be treated as “essential requirements”, the court last week in a decision refused to put a ban on these activities. Pixabay

 

In doing so, the court overturned the April 2017 injunction issued by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which asked affiliating schools not to indulge in “commercial” activities.

ALSO READ: App allowing free download of all NCERT books to be launched soon

The court said the availability of uniforms, non-NCERT reference books or even food items for sale only to the students of the school does not fall in the category of and cannot at all be considered as commercialization.

Earlier in its circular, the board had asked the schools to “desist from the unhealthy practice of coercing parents to buy textbooks, notebooks, stationery, uniforms, shoes, school bags etc from within the premise or from selected vendors only” and directed them to operate as doing “community service” as per the board by-laws.

Minister of State for Human Resource Development Upendra Kushwaha, in December last year, told Parliament that CBSE has not directed students or schools to buy or prescribe NCERT books only. (IANS)

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