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Supreme Court declines to hear PIL for Uniform Civil Code

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a public interest petition seeking direction to parliament for enacting a uniform civil code to end alleged discrimination being faced by Muslim women, telling the petitioner to approach parliament and not waste the court’s time.

A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur, Justice AK Sikri and Justice R Banumathi said that it is for parliament to take a call on the issue and it was not in the realm of the apex court to issue a direction (to parliament) on this.

Chief Justice Thakur, in a disapproving note, told senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the petitioner, that if such petitions were filed without regard to the law, the court will come down very heavily.

Pointing out that the legal position on the issue was “very well settled”, the court told the petitioner advocate he was “wasting the court’s time”.

“You are wasting our time”, the bench said.

The petitioner was advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who is also the spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi unit.

The court asked why none of those who are being allegedly discriminated against have come forward for redressal. “Why it is that none of the people from the community have not come,” asked Chief Justice Thakur.

If an aggrieved woman comes to the court, we may still consider examining it, the court said questioning the locus of the petitioner to raise the issue.

Asking Upadhyay to approach parliament for such a legislation, the bench said: “What you cannot do directly you are trying to do it indirectly?”

The petitioner had sought direction to the government take steps for the enactment of the Uniform Civil Code in fulfilment of its obligation under the Directive Principles of the State Policy in the constitution. Article 44, under the principles, says, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”

The petition had contended that a uniform civil code was a sign of modern progressive nation, which will show that India has moved away from religion, race, caste and sex discrimination.

Contending that at present “what we have right now in India is selective secularism, which means that in some areas, we are secular and in others”, the petitioner said: “While our economic growth has been the highest in the world, our social growth has not happened at all. In fact, it might be right to say that socially and culturally we have degraded to a point where we are neither modern nor traditional.”

Upadhyay in his PIL said that the uniform civil code meant that all the citizens have to follow the same civil laws irrespective whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, or Sikhs.

It said that uniform civil code did not limit the freedom to follow their respective religions, but it just mean that every person shall be treated equally, which Upadhyay described “as real secularism”.

(IANS)

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Was the Ban on Sale of Firecrackers in Delhi Successful? Data on Pollution Levels in Delhi Say Otherwise

Despite the much talked about cracker-ban, pollution monitoring stations placed the capital in the ‘red zone’, indicating ‘very poor’ air quality.

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pollution levels
While the ban on crackers imposed by the Supreme Court aimed to reduce pollution levels in Delhi, figures from pollution monitoring system paint an unhealthy picture with amplified levels of air pollution. (Representative image) Pixabay

New Delhi, October 20, 2017: The Supreme Court had on October 9 banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi during Diwali in order to counter the pollution, deteriorating air quality and smog-like conditions that have come to be associated with the festival in recent times.

While a radical change was not expected following the ban on firecrackers, a humble and promising beginning could be witnessed on Diwali with majority areas in Delhi reporting much lesser noise and smoke till 6 PM, compared to previous years.

However, as the festive spirit picked up from 7 PM onwards, the hopes for a pollution-free Diwali got lost behind the growing echo of the crackers.

Pollution Levels on Diwali

Despite the much talked about the ban on firecrackers, pollution monitoring stations placed the capital in the ‘red zone’, indicating ‘very poor’ air quality. According to the stats available, on Diwali day around 7 pm, online indicators showed a rising trend in the volume of cancer-causing ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10 that are capable of entering the respiratory system and reach the bloodstream.

PM2.5 and PM10 are the extremely fine particulate matter with the digits representing their diameter in micrometers. They are a major component of air pollutants that threaten both, our health and the environment at large.

ALSO READ 10 Quick Facts About Delhi Pollution Problem

However, data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) suggested that the air quality in Delhi on Diwali was better than last year.

On Thursday, the Air Quality Index (AQI) value was 319 which placed the city in the ‘very poor’ category. However, the AQI value on Diwali last year was 431 and the city was placed in the ‘severe’ category.

According to data from SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research), the 24-hour rolling average at around 11 PM was revealed as 154 and 256 micrograms per cubic meter for PM2.5 and PM10 respectively.

According to SAFAR data, pollution levels were expected to soar between 11 PM and 3 AM.

Pollution Levels in the Morning after Diwali

As the night progressed, PM2.5 levels recorded a sharp rise in multiple areas in and around Delhi, with 15 times increase in areas like India Gate

As per data from Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), PM2.5 levels at 6 AM in,

India Gate – 911 microns (Normal level – 60 microns)

RK Puram – 776 microns (13 times more than usual)

Ashoka Vihar – 820 microns (14 times more than normal)

Anand Vihar – 617 microns (10 times more than normal)

A sharp rise was observed in the PM10 levels in the early hours of the morning after Diwali which suggest hazardous pollution levels in Delhi.

As per data from Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), PM10 levels at 6 AM in,

India Gate – 985 microns

RK Puram – 1083 (11 times more than usual)

Anand Vihar – 2402 microns (24 times more than normal. Normal level is considered around 100 microns)

While the ban on firecrackers imposed by the Supreme Court aimed to reduce pollution levels in Delhi, figures from pollution monitoring system paint an unhealthy picture with amplified levels of air pollution.

Official figures from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are yet to be announced today. However, judging from the data available, it won’t be wrong to say that pollution levels in Delhi have increased post-Diwali.

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Indian Muslim Should Embrace The Triple Talaq Verdict, As It Outlaws the Radical Religious Side

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Triple Talaq
End of Triple Talaq. IANS

by Frank F. Islam

Sep 21, 2017 (IANS): On August 22, the Supreme Court ruled that triple talaq — the practice which allows a man to divorce his wife instantly by saying the word talaq thrice — is unconstitutional. Predictably, the ruling was denounced by a number of Muslim leaders and organisations. Some interpreted it as an attack on their religion and way of life. Others saw a conspiracy angle in the importance given to an issue.

This perspective is desperate and distorted. This perspective is not only wrong but also wrong-headed, misplaced and misguided.

I applaud this judgement because I strongly believe that Muslim instant divorce is illegal and incorrect in many ways. Instant divorce is deplorable, disgraceful and shameful. In addition, it is demeaning, demonising, disheartening and demoralising to Indian Muslim women.

Most importantly, as one of the judges pointed out, triple talaq is against the basic tenets of the Quran. Recognising this, many Islamic countries, including two of India’s large Muslim neighbours — Pakistan and Bangladesh — have abolished the practice.

In addition, it is unconscionable to think that a man should be allowed to banish a woman to whom he is married — who is also the mother of his child or children, in many cases — by uttering a word three times, with no consequences. Triple talaq is also inherently discriminatory in that only a man has that “right” — a Muslim woman cannot end the marriage in a similar way.

Also Read: One India, One Law: End of Triple Talaq 

Over the years, some Muslim organisations have rationalised triple talaq by arguing that divorce rates within their community are quite low compared to other religious groups. It affects less than a third of a per cent of Muslim women, they argue. This is neither a sound legal nor moral argument. Even if one concedes that instant divorce affects only a minuscule population, injustice should never have legal sanction, regardless of how many people are affected.

The triple talaq ruling, the result of a decades-long campaign by women’s rights groups, was a historic verdict. With the stroke of a pen, the judges made illegal a practice that over the decades has ruined the lives of countless Indian Muslim women.

In the absence of a comprehensive study among Indian Muslim women, it is not known how many of them have been divorced in this manner. A 2013 survey of Muslim women in 10 Indian states by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, an advocacy group that fights for the rights of Indian Muslims, found that triple talaq was the most common mode of divorce among those surveyed.

Of the 4,710 women sampled in the survey, 525 were divorcees. Of them, 404 were victims of triple talaq. More than 80 per cent of them did not receive any compensation at the time of divorce.

Two of the five judges that delivered the triple talaq judgment differed on the constitutionality of practice. The bench was in unanimous agreement, however, in asking the government to enact within six months legislation to govern Muslim marriages and divorces.

India’s justice system has numerous drawbacks. It often takes decades for courts to deliver justice. In this instance, the Supreme Court should be applauded for delivering a correct judgment in a timely manner.

The ball is now in the government’s court. It is up to people’s representatives to come up with policies that will change the lives of Muslim women for the better.

Equitable legislation on Muslim marriages and divorces should be just the starting point. The central and state governments must craft policies that empower women belonging to all castes, creeds and religions. Such policies should focus on educating women, developing their skills and making them part of the work force. Empowerment of this type will allow them to pursue and create their own destiny. It will lead to financial independence. In addition, it will promote the security and stability of women and will build their self-esteem and confidence.

India’s Muslim community should embrace the Supreme Court verdict. They should join together to say: End triple talaq. End triple talaq. End triple talaq. They should leverage the verdict as an opportunity to advocate for and bring about much-needed reforms related to women’s rights. (IANS)

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Why Does 45th Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra Need ‘Z’-Category Security of Armed NSG Commandos?

Jjustice Depak Misra, who had been recommended as a successor by Justice J.S Khehar in July, becomes the 45th Chief Justice of India and was administered the oath of office by President Ram Nath Kovind.

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Chief Justice of India.
The swearing in ceremony of Justice Dipak Misra as the 45th Chief Justice of India. Twitter
  • Justice Dipak Misra was sworn in as the 45th Chief Justice of India
  • His tenure will span for the next 14 months until his retirement in October 2018
  • Justice Misra is the only CJI to have armed protection of black commandos

New Delhi, August 29, 2017: The Chief Justice of India (CJI) J.S Khehar demitted office on August 27. The next in line was Justice Dipak Misra, who was sworn in on August 28 as the 45th Chief Justice of India at a ceremony held at the Darbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath taking ceremony of Misra, who had been recommended as a successor by Justice J.S Khehar in July this year.

In his career spanning 40 years, Justice Dipak Misra ventured into most realms of the law- civil, criminal, constitutional, revenue services and matters concerning sales tax, proving his grit to take over the new position. But that is not the only intriguing aspect of his career.

Justice Deepak Misra is the first ever Chief Justice of India to have a ‘Z’-category security cover.

The 45th CJI was provided with an upgraded security cover in 2015 after he had received a death-threat letter from terrorist organizations.

Why Would A Supreme Court Judge Need Security Cover?

On July 30, 2015, Justice-Misra headed the three-judge bench in a hearing when Yakub Memon, convicted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, pleaded for a 14 days’ stay on his death penalty just hours before he was to be hanged. The pleas were starkly dismissed in an incomparable 2:30 am hearing and the judgment went on to become a landmark in the Indian legal history.

However, shortly after the hearing, an anonymous letter enclosed in an envelope threatening Misra of dreadful consequences was delivered at his official residence following which he was provided with a ‘Z’ security cover which remains till date.

ALSO READ: Threat letter to judge who rejected Memon’s mercy plea

A protectee under ‘Z’ category gets security cover from armed commandos of the National Security Guards (NSG) along with an escort vehicle and a pilot vehicle, each having three armed personnel, for the protection of his official vehicle.

Today, Justice Misra is the only top judge to ever use a bullet-proof ambassador car supplemented with a police escort.

Chief Justice of India
CJI Dipak Misra, seen here with Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, President Ram Nath Kovind and PM Narendra Modi. Twitter

However, death threats never stalled the 63-year old Justice Dipak Misra from taking monumental judgments and he has been at the forefront of some of the landmark judgments in the recent history. We take a look at the highlights from his career,

1. In May 2017, Justice Misra doctored the long-awaited landmark ruling and confirmed death penalty of the four convicts in the monstrous 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape that shook the entire world.

2. Justice Dipak Misra also headed the bench that mandated to play the National Anthem in cinema houses before the start of every movie for which he received a lot of flak. He also ordered for the viewers to stand up in “committed patriotism and nationalism” every time the National Anthem and/or the National Flag are featured in the theatres.

3. One of the most noteworthy decisions by Justice Misra include directing all State and Union Territories to upload all FIRs registered on their websites within 24 hours of registration at the police station. The move has made the entire process transparent, allowing the accused to download complaints and seek redressal of their grievances.

4. Justice Misra was also one of the seven judges of the special bench set up by the Supreme Court for a contempt of court hearing against Justice C.A Karman who had levied corruption charged on 20 judges of the High Court. The bench defended the constitutionality of the 150-year old law on criminal defamation and sentenced Karnan to six months in jail.

5. In 2015, a Justice Misra-led bench stayed the Maharashtra government’s ban on dance bars that had mushroomed in Mumbai and other parts of the state during the 90s. However, it maintained that the government must take steps to protect and uphold the dignity of women who performed at these bars.

6. Justice Misra is also known for his strict stand against frivolous litigations. He previously rejected one such appeal that had objected to the use of the term ‘Dhobi Ghat’ in a film’s title and had warned the petitioner.

7. He was also part of the bench that rejected the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to allow for reservations in promotions and asserted that this can only be allowed if there is sufficient supportive data and evidence to justify the decision.

8. Holding chair as the executive chairperson of the National Legal Services Authority, Justice Misra introduced the facility of Legal Assistance Establishment or Nyay Sanyog in states to simplify activities to provide free and faster legal aid to the deprived people.

9. Justice Misra also headed the three-judge bench that instructed the Centre in April 2017 to conduct NEET examination in Urdu from academic year 2018-2019 onwards. NEET examinations are held for students who wish to pursue a graduate medical course or a post-graduate medical course in private or government colleges.

Justice Dipak Misra’s tenure as the 45th Chief Justice of India will span for the next 14 months until he retires in October 2018 and is expected to see judgments in some high-magnitude issues like the validity of the Aadhaar card, the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir and the Ayodhya land dispute.


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