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Lokpal law amendment may be taken up for consideration during Monsoon session of Parliament: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court of India says sex with wife below 18 is Rape. Wikimedia

New Delhi, March 28, 2017: The Central government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the Lokpal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014, a stepping stone for operationalising the institution, may be taken up for consideration during the monsoon session of Parliament.

Telling the bench that government was not dragging its feet on taking up the amendment bill, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Navin Sinha that the current session of parliament is devoted to budget and “may be it (amendment bill) will be considered in the monsoon session”.

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He told the court that the selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India can’t nominate the fifth member – the eminent jurist – without the Leader of Opposition being there.

As the government said that it was seized of the issue and opposed any intervention by the court, the court reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions including one by society Common Cause seeking mandamus to the government to take steps for enforcing the law enacted in 2013.

Citing the separation of powers under the Constitution, Rohatgi told the court that “there can’t be a mandamus to bring an Act into force because as parliament can’t ask how courts are functioning or a particular case be decided in a particular time frame” and similarly, courts can’t venture into the law-making province of legislature.

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“Whether they pass, how they pass, how they do, whether they can pass in two minutes, is within the province of the parliament,” he stressed.

Rohatgi said that the amendment to treat the leader of the largest opposition party as Leader of Opposition for the purposes of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, was just one of the many amendments that are being sought to be made in the statute.

Earlier appearing for Common Cause, senior counsel Shanti Bhushan referred to different laws where leader of the largest opposition party is treated Leader of Opposition for the purposes of the appointment of the Central Bureau of Investigations’ Director or even the Chief Vigilance Commissioner.

He pressed for the direction that in the absences of the Leader of the Opposition, the remaining three member – the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker and the Chief Justice of India should nominate the fifth member – the eminent jurist – so that the process for the appointment of Lokpal could start.

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Buttressing the point advanced by Bhushan, another counsel Gopal Shankarnarayan drew the attention of the court to the passing of the amendment to Section 44 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, dealing with the declaration of assets by the public servants.

He said that in the case of the amendment, the government had the clear intention and it went ahead with it and asked how piecemeal amendment can be given effect to while the other amendments which, according to the government, are essential for operationalising the law are not being pushed by it. (IANS)

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With the Modi in Camelot 2.0, Expect the Unexpected

Many aspirations and ambitions have to be fulfilled while hard work and perseverance will need to be rewarded

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Modi, AIM, Global
The prime focus of the government as well as NITI Aayog remains on accelerating the pace of manufacturing sector in India. Flickr

With a gargantuan majority at his disposal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a huge gene pool to choose from and reward as he goes about appointing members to his new Camelot. However, with PM Modi, no one can second-guess him. At the same time, speculation is rife in Delhi’s political circles on the composition of the new Cabinet.

For starters, one will have to look at the Big Four – members of the all important Cabinet Committee on Security. In the erstwhile Cabinet there were two women. Apparently, former Rajasthan Chief MInister Vasundhara Raje may be sounded out for the External Affairs Ministry while giant killer Smriti Irani, who toppled Congress President Rahul Gandhi from his pocket borough of Amethi, may get the plum post of Raksha Mantri. Many aspirations and ambitions have to be fulfilled while hard work and perseverance will need to be rewarded.

The PM may also be looking at certain technocrats to push his JAM policy where the tri-junction of Jan, Aadhar and Mobile meet. This has paid handsome dividends at the bottom of the pyramid and in more ways than one given a sense of liberation and purpose to rural women. As such, one shouldn’t be surprised if there is a Make in India, Skill Development and other such nomenclatures in the new Cabinet.

Grapevine also indicates that NSA Ajit Doval may be one of the contenders for the Defence Minister’s job. He could even be sent to Washington as India’s ambassador to the US. Adding a twist to the permutations and combinations, if BJP President Amit Shah is inducted into the Cabinet, he may get one of the most crucial portfolios out of three – Home, Defence or even Finance.

Modi, Camelot 2.0
Former Rajasthan Chief MInister Vasundhara Raje may be sounded out for the External Affairs Ministry. Flickr

In whatever role the PM assigns him, he will be pushing the rollout agenda of the PM’s pet schemes aggressively. In the eventuality that he joins the Cabinet, given the nature of Indian polity where the country lurches from one election to another and the whirligig is more often than not year round; Dharmendra Pradhan or Bhupendra Yadav may get the nod for the party top job.

Health minister J.P. Nadda is another name doing the rounds. National General Secretary and a Rajya Sabha MP from Himachal Pradesh, Nadda is known as a master strategist in his party. The party had given him charge of Uttar Pradesh in the recently concluded hustings. The party bagged 62 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats.

Meanwhile, Pradhan cut his teeth in the Bihar Lok Sabha elections 2014 and once again, this time in his home state Odisha. BJP’s vote share in the Lok Sabha polls in Odisha rose from about 21.9 per cent in 2014 to 38.37 per cent while the ruling BJD’s fell from 44.1 per cent in 2014 to 42.76 per cent.

BJP’s vote share in the Odisha Assembly polls also rose significantly from 18.2 per cent in 2014 to 32.5 per cent in 2019. An RSS member since his student days and a close confidant of both Modi and Shah, Pradhan is expected to play a bigger role in BJP.

Also Read- FSS Expands in EU to Set Up a Transaction Processing Centre in US

Bhupendra Yadav is a Rajya Sabha member, but equally a powerful national general secretary. Fiercely private, like his mentor Amit Shah, Yadav keeps to the confines of the war room, a role that he relishes. Yadav had been the BJP election in-charge for Rajasthan in 2013, Jharkhand in 2014 and Bihar in 2015. While Bihar did not go the way the BJP would have liked, Yadav delivered results for his boss, Shah, in both Rajasthan and Jharkhand.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh may be retained in his present job, but if party President Amit Shah, who has played a monumental role in the BJP returning to power working ceaselessly and tirelessly to put the strategic tent poles in place, joins the Cabinet, the former party president may become the new Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, who served as the interim finance minister when Arun Jaitley was undergoing treatment, may step into his shoes.

However, other names are also doing the rounds for this post. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad may be moved to a more prominent ministry after his win in Patna Sahib. He was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and became a cabinet minister under Modi. Nitin Gadkari had a number of ministries under him and is credited with most tangible work being done in those departments. He may continue with the work assigned to him. Agriculture will be one of the focus areas and, there is a thinking that a technocrat like Ashok Gulati should be given the job to ameliorate the woes of agrarian India which appears to be in distress mode.

Modi, Camelot 2.0
Speculation is rife in Delhi’s political circles on the composition of the new Cabinet. Flickr

Telecom will have a new minister since Manoj Sinha is one of the prominent losers in the BJP. If Pradhan moves to head the party, then the energy portfolio comprising petroleum and natural gas will also see a new face. Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi may get a cabinet rank this time. He is the most prominent Muslim face in the Modi team. Prakash Javdekar will also be given an important position — he served as HRD Minister in the old Council of Ministers.

Also Read- India: In Modi 2.0 Cabinet, Allies and Performers will be Rewarded

With nearly 80 members in the previous Cabinet, lots of faces and names to fill the posts abound. Expect the infusion of new blood and representation to states where the BJP has done exceedingly well — Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Jharkhand, Odisha, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and equal weight to the allies. (IANS)