Newsletter April 22, 2018










In the wake of the outrage over the kidnapping, rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua, the Union Cabinet on Saturday approved the promulgation of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, which allowed courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children below 12 years of age.

The Ordinance will now be sent to President Ram Nath Kovind for approval and will have to be ratified by both Houses of Parliament within six weeks, once they reconvene.

The last time the government took the Ordinance route for an amendment of the criminal law was in 2013. Then, soon after the December 2012 gang rape in Delhi, the UPA government had brought in an Ordinance to provide for stringent punishment for sexual offences against women.

The Ordinance provides for stringent punishment for rape of girls under 12, with a minimum of 20 years’ imprisonment or imprisonment for rest of life and the maximum of death. In case of gang rape of a girl below 12 years, the minimum punishment will be imprisonment for the “rest of life” and the maximum, death sentence.

The proposed Ordinance also extends the maximum punishment for rape of a child between 12 and 16 years from 10 years of rigorous imprisonment in prison to 20 years, “extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which shall mean imprisonment till that person’s natural life”.

For the offence of rape, of those above 16, minimum punishment has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, “extendable to life imprisonment”.

The proposed Ordinance also makes it difficult for those accused of raping or gangraping a child under 16 to obtain bail, removing the provision for anticipatory bail for such a person. “It has also been provided that court has to give a notice of 15 days to the public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age,” the government said in a statement.

The proposed Ordinance sets a time-limit of two months for investigation and trial in rape cases to be completed and prescribes a time limit of six months for disposal of appeals in rape cases.

It also says NCRB will maintain a national database and profile of sexual offenders and the data collected will be regularly shared with states and union territories for tracking, monitoring and investigation, including verification of antecedents by police.

The Union Cabinet also set a deadline of three months to set up new fast-track courts in consultation with States and UTs and High Courts, create new posts of public prosecutors, ensure special forensic kits for rape cases at all police stations and hospitals, provide manpower for investigation of rape cases and set up special forensic labs in each State/UT exclusively for rape cases.





The Union Cabinet on Saturday approved a proposal to promulgate the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance 2018 that provides for confiscating properties and assets of economic offenders like loan defaulters who flee the country, officials said. The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 12 but could not be passed due to the logjam in Parliament. It seeks to confiscate properties of economic offenders, like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, who have left the country to avoid facing criminal prosecution. While the ordinance will come into effect after the President’s assent, it will have to be approved by Parliament within six weeks of its reassembly, or else it will cease to exist.

The ordinance defines a fugitive economic offender as a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued for committing offences like counterfeiting government stamps or currency, dishonouring cheque due to insufficiency of funds, money laundering, and transactions defrauding creditors.

According to the ordinance, a director or deputy director (appointed under the PMLA) may file an application before a special court to declare a person as a fugitive economic offender.





There will be no bilateral meetings between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with their Pakistan counterparts at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) ministerial meets to be held here, official sources said.

“There will be no meetings with their Pakistan counterparts,” official sources here said, ruling out any planned meetings between the Indian and Pakistani ministers.

Swaraj, who arrived in Beijing yesterday, will take part in the foreign ministers meeting of the SCO to be held on April 24. The same day, Sitharaman will take part in the SCO defence ministers meeting.

The meetings, which are part of the preparations for the SCO summit to be held in the Chinese city of Qingdao in June, have become prominent as these are the first such meetings after India and Pakistan were admitted into the eight-member group last year. Both events are to be attended by the respective ministers from Pakistan. A host of issues, including that of regional security and counter-terrorism, are expected to figure in the meetings.

The SCO, in which China and Russia play an influential role, specialises in regional security, counter-terrorism and related issues.

The organisation consists of China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.





BJP national chief Amit Shah on Saturday accused Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi of “defaming Hindu culture”, the open attack in Congress pocket borough Rae Bareli. Shah brought up Monday’s verdict in the Mecca Masjid blast case to accuse the Congress of following a divisive policy.

“The Congress leaders have always followed a divisive policy. They have even supported terrorism to mislead the people and consolidate their vote bank. Recently, a court in Hyderabad acquitted all the accused in the Mecca Masjid case and released Aseemanandji. The Congress government had accused Aseemanandji and others of a bomb blast in Mecca Masjid,” Shah told the rally attended by BJP workers from Rae Bareli and Amethi.

“I want to ask Rahul Baba from the land of Rae Bareli… Rahul Baba, you and your home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, (and Congress leaders) P. Chidambaram and Digvijaya Singh had tried to do the dirty work of defaming Hindu culture by associating saffron and terrorism. You should apologise to the country because all your plans on Mecca Masjid were washed away,” Shah said.

The BJP president said Rae Bareli had seen only “parivarwad (dynasty politics)” since independence. “The BJP today launches a movement to end parivarwad in Rae Bareli and take the district on the path of development. We will develop Rae Bareli as an ideal constituency,” he added.

Dwijendra Tripathi, spokesperson for the Uttar Pradesh Congress, said: “Shah’s rally much before elections in Rae Bareli and the frequent visits of Smriti Irani, the Union textiles minister, to Amethi indicate that the BJP wants to confine Sonia and Rahul to their constituencies and prevent them from exposing Modi’s misrule. But this is not going to happen as Rahul and Sonia would keep telling (the people) about anarchy under Modi’s and Yogi’s rule.”

“The people of Amethi and Rae Bareli know that over 100 industries, many schools, colleges and hospitals were started there during Congress rule. They also know that the people of Varanasi regret electing Modi as their MP because he failed to develop the holy city and didn’t clean the Ganga. This is proof that the BJP is using Hinduism for politics,” Tripathi said.









North Korea’s announcement that it is halting nuclear and missile tests has received a broad international welcome. Early on Saturday Leader Kim Jong-un said: “From 21 April, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

Leader Kim Jong-un said further tests were not needed, as the North had demonstrated it had nuclear weapons.

Donald Trump described the move as “good news” for the world, and South Korea said it was meaningful progress.

The EU said it was “positive”, but called for complete denuclearisation.

North Korea is preparing for historic summits with South Korea and the US.

KCNA quoted Kim as saying that North Korea should focus on economic development now that it had achieved its aim of becoming a nuclear state. “The whole party and the whole nation should now focus on the development of the socialist economy,” he was quoted as saying. “This is the party’s new strategic policy line.”





Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that Iran’s atomic agency was ready with “expected and unexpected” reactions if the United States pulls out of a multinational nuclear deal, as US President Donald Trump has threatened to do.

“Our Atomic Energy Organisation is fully prepared … for actions that they expect and actions they do not expect,” Rouhani said without elaborating in a speech carried by state television, referring to a possible decision by Trump to leave the accord next month.

The deal reached between Iran, the United States and five other world powers put curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

Trump has called the agreement one of the worst deals ever negotiated. In January he sent an ultimatum to Britain, France and Germany, saying they must agree to fix what the United States sees as the deal’s flaws or he would refuse to extend the critical US sanctions relief that it entails.





Chinese naval forces have passed through waters south of Taiwan and carried out military exercises in the western Pacific, the latest in a series of military drills that self-ruled Taiwan has criticised as amounting to “intimidation”.

J-15 fighters took off from China’s sole operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, on Friday for training in the area to the east of the Bashi Channel, which runs between Taiwan and the Philippines, the official newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) reported on Saturday.

Chinese destroyers carried out offensive and defensive drills to test their capabilities, the PLA Daily said. The Ministry of Defence carried pictures of the exercises on its website on Saturday. China has been ramping up military displays in the area over the last week.









Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who has been openly critical of the current party leadership, on Saturday quit the party. “Four years ago, I had quit electoral politics. Now I am taking ‘sanyas’ from party politics,” he said at a meeting in Patna attended by Opposition leaders from the Congress and the RJD, besides rebel BJP leader and Patna Sahib MP Shatrughan Sinha.

Sinha said that while he would not engage in any party politics, he would join any movement that works towards “upholding the democratic values of the country”.

Sinha, a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleged that democracy was under threat under the present government. A former Union finance minister, Sinha has also criticised the government’s handling of the economy.

The meeting, at which Sinha made the announcement, was hosted by Rashtriya Manch, an “apolitical forum” set up by Sinha earlier this year to highlight the alleged “anti-people policies” of the Centre.

Shatrughan Sinha, while attacking the BJP, praised RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav. “Tejashwi is emerging as the face of Bihar… Such maturity at this age! Tejashwi is the worthy son of a worthy father,” he said. He dared the ruling party to take action against him if it wants to but made it clear he won’t resign from its membership on his own. “I heard that the party is contemplating to take action against me since the Bihar Assembly polls but they did not take action. Are they so helpless that they will look for a mohurat to expel (me),” the Patna Saheb lawmaker said.





The CPM’s decision to keep the door open to an understanding with the Congress in the fight against the RSS-BJP is not what the party’s Kerala unit has all along bargained for.

The Kerala leadership had openly backed Prakash Karat’s line that the CPM’s efforts to defeat the BJP in 2019 have to be done “without an understanding or electoral alliance with the Congress party”.

Last January, the Kerala unit was instrumental in shooting down a resolution moved by party general secretary Sitaram Yechury for a tactical understanding with the Congress to defeat the BJP. That resolution was rejected by the CPM central committee by 35-55 votes. In its final resolution, the party has removed the words “without having an understanding with the Congress Party” and retained “without having a political alliance with the Congress Party”.

It is understandable that the leadership will have to do a lot of explanation back home in Kerala. In the run-up to the party congress, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had at every district committee meeting repeatedly rejected any truck with the Congress at any level. It had even bordered on a personal attack on Yechury under the guise of anti-Congressism.





The Karnataka BJP took out newspaper ads chastising the Congress government for “rapes” in the state on Friday, two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that rapes should not be politicised.

The front-page advertisements appeared in English and Kannada newspapers in the form of an eight-column strip right under the masthead.

“Rapes, Murders & Lawlessness, An Insensitive Karnataka Government,” read the text, which appeared alongside photographs of Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and chief ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa.

At an event in London on Wednesday, Modi had said, in apparent allusion to the outrage over the Unnao and Kathua gang rapes: “What a painful incident is it when a little girl is raped. “But can we say there were that many rapes during your government and that many during ours? Rape is rape.”

State Congress vice-president K.E. Radhakrishna slammed the BJP’s “double standards”.





A day after seven Opposition parties, led by the Congress, moved a notice for impeachment of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, highly placed sources aware about the scrutiny process in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat said they had violated the provisions of the ‘Handbook for Members of Rajya Sabha’, which says any notice submitted to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha should not be given advance “publicity”. However, RS Secretariat sources said this violation alone cannot be sufficient reason for rejecting the impeachment notice.

On December 8, 2017, the parliamentary bulletin for Rajya Sabha also reminded members that as per “parliamentary customs and conventions”, a notice submitted to the House should not be given publicity by any member. “Kind cooperation of all members is solicited,” it said.

But Opposition leaders on Saturday cited Article 19(1)a of the Indian Constitution to assert their right to freedom of speech.





Swati Maliwal, Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women, announced this evening that she would break her indefinite hunger strike on Sunday as the Union Cabinet has approved an ordinance to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act.

Maliwal has been on fast since April 13, demanding death penalty for rapists of children after the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and other instances that took place recently.

Earlier, she turned down the request of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to break her fast.





Over 600 teachers and scholars worldwide have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing anguish at the Kathua and Unnao gang rapes and holding his government responsible for the “terrible state of affairs”.

“We wish to express our deep anger and anguish over the events in Kathua and Unnao and the aftermath of these events; over the efforts of those administering the relevant states to protect the alleged perpetrators of these monstrous crimes; over the subsequent (and) profoundly distasteful efforts of rationalisation and the deflection and diversion that have been so much in evidence in the reactions of your party’s spokespersons in the media,” the letter says.

“We have observed that there has been a prolonged silence on your part over the terrible state of affairs in the country and an undeniable association of violence with the ruling dispensation.”

Among the signatories are academics from New York University, Brown University, Harvard, Columbia University, and the IITs. “We send you this letter because it is our duty to do so; so that we are not guilty of silence.”





The legend of Chris Gayle continued to grow in the company of young KL Rahul as Kings XI Punjab outclassed Kolkata Knight Riders by nine wickets in a rain-hit IPL encounter.

While KKR scored a competitive 191/7 in 20 overs, KXIP had a revised target of 125 in 13 overs after a sharp spell of shower halted play for 95 minutes. Gayle completed a hat-trick of half-centuries with an unbeaten 62 from 38 balls that had five fours and six sixes while Rahul helped himself to a 60 off 27 balls.

Gayle hit the winning runs with a six off Tom Curran over long-on as they sealed the issue with 11 balls to spare. Having scored the fastest half-century in the IPL, Rahul once again underlined his credentials as an opener in the shortest format with nine fours and two sixes as KXIP clinched 4th win from five games. This was also their first win at the Eden Gardens since 2012.

Kolkata have 3 wins from 6 matches.

In the second match yesterday, in Bengaluru, AB de Villiers’ unbeaten 39-ball 90 helped Royal Challengers Bangalore notch up a six-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils. He almost singled-handedly chased down the 175-run target with two overs to spare to bring RCB’s campaign back on track. The former South African skipper smashed 10 fours and five sixes in his unconquered knock.

Batting first, Delhi scored 174/5. Bangalore reached there with 2 overs to spare.

For Bangalore, it was their 2nd win in 5 matches while for Delhi, it was their 4th loss in 5 matches.





I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you. – Anne Frank





A turtle is mugged by three snails.

When asked by police to give a description of what happened, he replies, “I don’t know, it all happened so fast!”



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