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Ex-servicemen to intensify stir over OROP

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New Delhi: As the agitation by ex-servicemen demanding the implementation of the ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme continued for the 31st day here on Tuesday, the protesting veterans said they would intensify their stir after a week.

Credits-www.indianexpress.com

“We decided to scale up the agitation from tomorrow (Wednesday), but we will wait for another seven days…if the government does not keep its promise we will launch agitation across the country,” United Front of Ex-Servicemen Morcha (UFESM) spokesperson Col. Anil Kaul (retd) said at a press conference here.

The protest would be taken to poll-bound states if the central government did not keep its promise of implementing the OROP, Kaul said.

“In August, we will launch an agitation in Bihar and hold a ‘Maha Sangram Rally’ in Patna,” Kaul said.

He said their agitation would be intensified next in Punjab.

The ex-servicemen assured that the common man would not be affected by their ongoing agitation.

The Morcha leaders also said they would continue to boycott all government functions in protest against the delay in grant of OROP by the government.

Lt. Gen. Balbir Singh (retd.) questioned the delay in acceptance of their demand by the NDA government headed by Narendra Modi.

“The government said money is no problem…so financial problems are gone…as far as administrative problems are concerned, all those who are getting pension are already on the rolls. There is no legal hassle either…,” he said.

“If they (government) are saying other government employees will also demand similar pension structure, our point is: The working conditions of a soldier are different from anyone else…the life expectancy of soldiers is less than those in the civilian jobs because of the working conditions; and then, they are not taken care of post- retirement,” he said.

Maj. Gen Satbir Singh (retd), chairman of the Indian ex-Servicemen Movement, meanwhile clarified that there cannot be OROP for major general rank officers only.

“An impression in relation to a case going on in the Supreme Court is that OROP will be given only to major general-ranked officers. All 254 major general-ranked officers, who are signatories in the case, have made it clear that they will not take OROP unless it is for all (ex-servicemen),” said Singh.

Ex-servicemen are demanding that the government give them a definite date for implementation of the OROP. They have also demanded that the nature of the scheme should not be changed.

Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the pay commission recommendations in force at the time of their retirement.

This leads to difference in pensions of officers of the same rank who retire on different dates.

The protesting veterans launched an agitation on June 14, and have been sitting on a relay hunger strike since June 15 at the Jantar Mantar in the national capital.

(IANS)

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Adultery Law Gets Scrapped: Another Progressive Step In India

Misra is stepping down as chief justice next week when he turns 65, the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court judges. 

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India
A gardener works on the lawns of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India, Aug. 22, 2017. India's Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has presided over a string of verdicts in recent weeks that grant more rights to women, gay couples and religious minorities as he prepares to retire from the bench next month. VOA

The chief justice of  Supreme Court of India has presided over a string of recent rulings that grant more rights to women, gay couples and religious minorities, challenging deeply conservative Indian society before he retires next month.

In the latest decision Thursday, Chief Justice Dipak Misra and the rest of the five-member court struck down a 158-year-old law that treated adultery in certain cases as a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison.

The court called the law, which did not allow wives to prosecute adulterous husbands, unconstitutional and noted that a “husband is not the master of woman.” Adultery can still be grounds for divorce in India, the verdict said, but a criminal penalty violated women’s protection to equal rights under the law.

Accolades for ruling

The verdict was hailed by activists and left-of-center members of India’s Parliament.

“Excellent decision,” tweeted Sushmita Dev, a lawmaker and president of the opposition Congress party’s women’s wing. She said “a law that does not give women the right to sue her adulterer husband … is unequal treatment and militates against her status as an individual.”

India
Participants displays a rainbow flag and cheer as gay rights activists and their supporters march during a gay pride parade in New Delhi, India. VOA

Amnesty International India said the decision was “a progressive judgment” and the old law was a “remnant of a time when a woman was considered to be the property of her husband.”

The scrapped law allowed men to file charges against other men who had affairs with their wives. Women having affairs could not be prosecuted, but they also couldn’t file a complaint against cheating husbands.

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Gay couples, religious minorities

Earlier this month, the Misra-led court also struck down a colonial-era law that made gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The 1861 law, a relic of Victorian England that hung on long after the end of British colonialism, was “a breach of the rights of privacy and dignity,” the court ruled. It added that “history owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries.”

On Thursday, the court also decided not to reconsider a 1994 decision that would have delayed proceedings in a case over the ownership of the site of a mosque that Hindu hard-liners demolished in 1992.

India
Indian Muslim women talk while walking through a market in Ahmadabad, India. VOA

Fast pace for India

The court’s recent pace of decisions speaks to another feature of Misra’s tenure: expediting cases in a country where they routinely take decades to resolve.

There are 33 million court cases pending in India, government figures show.

Misra is stepping down as chief justice next week when he turns 65, the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court judges.

Also Read: What Would Be The Outcome of The Judgement on Homosexuality with BJP at The Centre?

He joined India’s highest court in 2011. His 13-month tenure as chief justice has won him accolades from advocates of disadvantaged groups but drawn unprecedented criticism from other members of the bench.

In January, the four most senior justices held a news conference against Misra, who as chief justice controls the court’s roster and decides who will take which cases, listing a litany of problems that they said afflicted the court and risked undermining India’s democracy. Misra met with the dissenting judges, who continued on the bench. (VOA)