Newsletter Aug 31, 2018




 The Law Commission has said that a person should not be charged with sedition for “merely expressing a thought that is not in consonance with the policy of the Government of the day”.

In a consultation paper on the sedition law (124A IPC) — in which it has spelt out multiple issues that require wider discussion — the Law Commission, headed by Justice (retired) B S Chauhan, has said that the stringent sedition law should be invoked only in cases “where intention” behind the act is to “disrupt public order or to overthrow the Government with violence and illegal means”.

“The Commission hopes a healthy debate will take place among the legal luminaries, lawmakers, Government and non-Government agencies, academia, students and above all, the general public, on the above issues, so that a public-friendly amendment could be brought about,” the panel said in its paper

Defending the right to freedom of speech and expression, the panel said: “In a democracy, singing from the same book is not a benchmark of patriotism. People should be at liberty to show their affection towards their country in their own way. For doing the same, one might indulge in constructive criticism or debates, pointing out the loopholes in the policy of the Government. Expressions used in such thoughts might be harsh and unpleasant to some, but that does not render the actions to be branded seditious.”

Every irresponsible exercise of right to free speech and expression, the panel said, cannot be termed seditious. “Expression of frustration over the state of affairs, for instance, calling India ‘no country for women’, or a country that is ‘racist’ for its obsession with skin colour as a marker of beauty are critiques that do not ‘threaten’ the idea of a nation. Berating the country, or a particular aspect of it, cannot and should not be treated as sedition,” the panel said.

“If the country is not open to positive criticism, there lies little difference between the pre- and post-independence eras. Right to criticise one’s own history and the right to ‘offend’ are rights protected under free speech,” the panel said.


Young India is waiting for a decision on a joint parliamentary committee on the Rafale deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi told Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday, a day after he gave him 24 hours to “check and revert” on the issue.

As Indian Youth Congress workers gathered outside the AICC office in preparation for a protest march to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence on the issue, Gandhi took to Twitter to address the finance minister.

“Dear Mr Jaitley, Less than 6 hrs left for your deadline on the #Rafale JPC to run out. Young India is waiting. I hope you’re busy convincing Modi Ji and Anil Ambani Ji about why they should listen to you & approve this!” he said.

The Congress, which has launched a frontal attack on the government over the Rafale issue, is undertaking a pan-India campaign to “apprise people” on the deal. Party leaders are fanning out across the country, holding press conferences which will be followed by plans for district- and state-level agitations on the issue.

In Delhi, the Congress is holding protests outside its headquarters and will march towards the PM’s house with top party leaders expected to participate in the agitation.

The Congress president termed the 2016 demonetisation as “country’s biggest scam” and alleged that it was a “well-intended” move to help 15-20 “crony capitalists” of the country. Taking a swipe at Modi, Gandhi said he (PM Modi) rightly claims that what he achieved was not done in 70 years. Demonetisation is proof of that as it was aimed at helping only the rich, he added.


The Supreme Court has ruled by a 4:1 majority that people notified as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in one state cannot claim reservation in jobs or education if they migrate to another state except for the national capital territory of Delhi.

The “benefits of reservation provided for by the Constitution would stand confined to the geographical territories of a state/Union territory in respect of which the lists of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes have been notified”, Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, writing the majority verdict.

Justices Gogoi, N.V. Ramana, M.M. Shantanagoudar and S. Abdul Nazeer also said: “We further hold that so far as the national capital territory of Delhi is concerned, the pan-India reservation rule in force is in accord with the constitutional scheme relating to services under the Union and the states/Union territories.” The court relied on a 1992 constitution bench ruling that Delhi was a “miniature India” that drew people from all sections.

Justice R. Banumathi differed, saying SC/ST migrants to Delhi would also lose quota benefits. All the five judges agreed that Parliament could amend the Constitution if it wanted to provide for reservations for migrant SCs and STs.

Another bench of Supreme Court yesterday emphasised that “quantifiable data” would be needed to determine backwardness of SC/ST communities for providing quota benefits in promotions.

“Quantifiable data, in our view, as a basis is unavoidable,” said a five-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, which reserved its verdict on reconsideration of its 12-year-old judgment in M Nagaraj case.




China will join Russia in a giant military exercise, sending a message of deterrence to the United States which has designated Beijing and Moscow as “revisionist powers”.

The five day Vostok -2018 exercises to be held from September 11 will be bigger that Zapad- 81—the mammoth manoeuvres carried out in Eastern Europe by the former Soviet Union in 1981. Mongolia will be third country participating in this mega-exercise.

The Vostok-2018 will involve a jaw dropping 300,000 troops. They will engage in tri-service mock-operations involving 1000 military aircraft, two of Russia’s naval fleets and all its airborne units, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday. Nearly 36,000 military vehicles will participate in the drills that will take place at Russia’s Tsugol training range in the trans-Baikal region

China will dispatch about 3,200 troops, along with more than 900 pieces of weaponry, as well as 30 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, to take part in live-fire strikes and counter-attack training, state-run Xinhua reported, citing China’s Ministry of National Defence.



More critics of US Donald Trump found themselves unblocked from his Twitter account, in keeping with a court ruling that he can’t shut out opposing viewpoints.

A federal district court judge in May ruled that blocking people from the President’s @realDonaldTrump account violated First Amendment free speech rights in a case brought by The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

The seven people named in the suit were unblocked as the decision was appealed.

The institute tweeted on Wednesday that it had gotten word that many people on a list of 41 more Twitter users it had given to the Department of Justice had also been unblocked by @realDonaldTrump.

“We’re pleased to see the White House take steps to comply with the district court’s ruling that the First Amendment prohibits the president from blocking Twitter users simply because they have criticized him,” the institute said.



Iran is sticking to the terms of its nuclear deal with world powers, a UN atomic watchdog report showed Thursday, despite ongoing uncertainty over its future.

The report from the International Atomic Energy Agency showed that Iran was still complying with the key parameters of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

It comes despite the future of the deal being thrown into doubt after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact in May and re-imposed US sanctions.

The latest report says the IAEA had had access “to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit”.




At least four close relatives of J&K policemen were abducted Thursday by suspected militants in different parts of south Kashmir, police said.

Suspected militants “raided” the houses of policemen in the four districts of south Kashmir — Shopian, Kulgam, Pulwama and Anantnag — and abducted “their sons and brothers”.

This comes a day after four J&K policemen were killed by suspected militants and follows allegations of the Army setting on fire houses of militants — both in Shopian. The Army has denied the allegations. On the same day, J&K Police also arrested the father of Hizbul Mujahideen’s operations chief Riyaz Naikoo.

“This 9the kidnappings) seems to be retaliation against the arrest of militants’ relatives. This is aimed at pressuring the police force,” a senior police officer said.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Thursday morning arrested Syed Ahmad Shakeel, a lab technician at a government hospital and son of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, from his residence in Srinagar’s Rambagh area. Shakeel was taken to New Delhi.


Barely two months after it circulated a training booklet in Hindi among its Mahila Morcha cadres that described China as a threat to India and Indian interests, the BJP, in the English version of its booklet, has done a rewrite: “Our border dispute with China is very old. However, earlier it appeared that China does not want its solution, but now there are positive signs on this front after the meeting of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping”.

The booklet in Hindi had mentioned that China appeared to be “not interested in resolving the issue” and “although no firing has taken place on the border after 1962, and no major tension has erupted either, China is constantly stockpiling ammunition on the border. Recently, China supported Pakistan on a proposal in the United Nations regarding Lakhvi” — 26/11 attack plotter Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

The English version has dropped these lines.

In the section ‘External Challenges’, the booklet states: “Since then there is peace on the border and there are also no heated arguments. But despite that China continues to amass arms in huge quantity near the Indian border. It also continues to create a competitive atmosphere for India. It continued its anti-India stand on some issues in the UNO also.”

“However, India has always adopted the policy of economic cooperation with China… China is continuously strengthening its navy, posing a grave challenge for Indian sea interests. It’s a matter of worry for all of us.. By building a huge road network near the Indian border, China is helping Pakistan and Sri Lanka. This has posed a big challenge to India’s control in the Indian Ocean,” the booklet states.


Nearly two years after a resolution was passed in the Maharashtra Assembly, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport has finally been rechristened as Chhatrapati Shivaji ‘Maharaj’ International Airport. Confirming the development, Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday said the long-pending demand of the state had been fulfilled.

“I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji for the concern towards the sentiments of the people of Maharashtra,” Prabhu tweeted.

The Maharashtra government on December 8 decided to insert the word ‘Maharaj’ to the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus as it felt the Maratha warrior king deserved to be paid more respect. A proposal was passed in the Assembly and forwarded to the Centre in December 2016.

While the change was immediately made by the then Railway Minister, the change in airport name had been pending.


The new motor insurance regulations to take effect from Saturday would, fear officials at automobile companies, impel those wishing to buy cars or two-wheelers to postpone purchasing.

Car dealers have been flooded with calls from buyers who had booked new vehicles in the past fortnight. The new regulation mandates buyers of cars and two-wheelers to purchase upfront insurance cover for at least three and five years, respectively.

Insurance is mandatory for all road-worthy vehicles in India but owners tend to skip renewing the policies after these lapse. A longer tenure and upfront payment would push up the on-road prices.



A big medal was won on the last day of the athletics competition at the main Gelora Bung Karno Stadium. For here, 56 years ago, was the last time when the Indian national anthem was played during the medal ceremony of the 1500m race. At the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, it was Mohinder Singh who stood first on the podium.

Thirteen editions of the Asian Games later, it was Johnson’s turn to soak up the experience of seeing the national flag fluttering at the same venue. Johnson, who finished second despite being the favourite for the 800m gold, had his revenge on Thursday as he clinched the first position with a timing of 3m, 44.72s.

In the 800m on Tuesday he tailed off in the final 80 metres, but in the 1500m final, he focused on the finish and did the exact opposite. He executed his race strategy perfectly and stayed in touch with the leaders, Iran’s Amir Moradi and Bahrain’s Mohamed Tiouali. He made his move in the last 200 metres and overtook them to finish ahead of them. Moradi finished second to bag silver, Tiouali got the bronze medal.

Johnson had opened a huge gap between himself and the two in the last 80m stretch, and won rather comfortably.

Bahadur Prasad was last Indian man to win a medal in the 1500m in the Asian Games, at Bangkok1998, where he won a bronze.


India rocked in the final two events of the Asian Games athletics competition last evening, winning a gold and silver in the last two races. India won five medals on the final day, wrapping the show up with gold in the women’s 4x400m relay and silver in the men’s 4x400m relay.

The Indian women extended their stranglehold on the 4×400 gold with another powerful performance. Hima Das, who ran the first leg, gave India a sizeable lead. MR Poovamma extended it after the first baton exchange, leaving Saritaben Gayakwad and V Vismaya to see it through to the end with a time of 3m 28.72s. However, the Indian team narrowly missed out on the Asian Games record of 3:28.68.

This was the fifth successive gold medal for the Indian team since the 2002 Busan Asian Games.

The men’s 4X400 relay team, though, had to be content with a silver behind a dominant Qatar. The team comprising Kunhu Muhammed, Dharun Ayyasamy, Muhammed Anas and Rajiv Arokia finished in a time of 3m, 1.85s, behind Qatar, who made a Games record with 3:00.56. Japan won the bronze medal. Kunhu Muhammed had run the first lap, followed by Dharun Ayyasamy. By the time Anas got the baton, Qatar had put quite a distance between them and the Indians. In fact, the Indian team was placed fourth at that time but Anas ran a brilliant leg to pass two runners, and Arokia Rajiv managed to maintain the second position.

Earlier, PU Chitra and Seema Punia contributed to the medal tally with a bronze each in the women’s 1500m and discus throw, respectively. Chitra finished third in the 1500m event with a timing of 4m, 12.56s, behind Bahrain’s Kalkidan Befkadu and Tigist Belay. Chitra had won gold in the Asian Championship last year in Bhubaneswar.

India are currently placed 8th, with 13 Gold, 21 Silver and 25 bronze medals


The Indian heads dropped as SV Sunil missed his attempt deep into the sudden death of a thrilling shootout. Malaysian supporters out-screamed the majority Indian crowd in the stadium.

Malaysia had stunned defending champions India in the semifinals, thereby denying the world No. 5 and Asia No. 1 side a chance to seal a direct entry into the 2020 Olympics.

After a thrilling 2-2 draw in regular time, Malaysia won 7-6 in sudden death. The world No. 12 side will take on Japan, who beat Pakistan 1-0 in the other semifinal, in the summit clash. It means that India will fight for the bronze medal with archrivals Pakistan.

India, who had pumped in an astounding 81 goals in the tournament so far, wasted five penalty corners in the first half. But Harmanpreet Singh gave India the lead in the 32nd minute with a low drag-flick. But the Malaysians equalised in the 39th minute. A minute later, India restored their advantage after Varun Kumar scored from a penalty corner variation.

With just over a minute left for the final hooter, Razie Rahim converted a penalty corner to force the game into a shootout.


Sam Curran’s 78 helped England recover from 86/6 to 246 all out against India on the first day of the fourth Test on Thursday after the tourists’ pace attack proved too good for their top order at the Ageas Bowl.

England captain Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat in glorious sunshine and with a track that looked nicely prepared for batting.

Trailing 1-2 in the series, Indian bowling attack combined aggression, movement and consistency as they removed the top order cheaply. Ishant, Shami and Aswin picked 2 wickets each. Bumrah picked 3 and Pandya 1.

At day’s end, India were 19/0 in reply to England’s 246.


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Self-respect is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has a price. – Joan Didion


A kangaroo kept getting out of his enclosure at the zoo. Knowing that he could hop high, the zoo officials put up a ten-foot fence.

He was out the next morning, just sauntering around the zoo. A twenty-foot fence was put up. Again he got out.

When the fence was forty feet high, a camel in the next enclosure asked the kangaroo, “How high do you think they’ll go?”

The kangaroo said, “About a thousand feet, unless somebody locks the gate at night!”

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