NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2018
- SC DECRIMINALISES CONSENSUAL GAY SEX
In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court yesterday de-criminalised homosexual acts between consenting adults in private, bringing cheers to millions of members of the LGBT community who had been hounded for their sexual orientation under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that made it a punishable offence.
A five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, read down the British-era law, terming it “irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary”.
The five judges wrote four concurring verdicts. While CJI Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar delivered one verdict, Justices Rohinton Nariman, Dhananjay Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra wrote separate verdicts.
The top court said homosexuality was a type of sexual orientation and not a disease and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community deserved to be treated with human dignity. Terming sexual orientation a “biological phenomenon”, it said any discrimination on this ground was violative of their fundamental rights.
The judgment came on petitions by dancer Navtej Jauhar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hoteliers Aman Nath and Keshav Suri, business executive Ayesha Kapur and 20 IITians challenging the validity of Section 377.
“Section 377, so far as it penalises any consensual sexual relationship between two adults, be it homosexuals (man and a man), heterosexuals (man and a woman) or lesbians (woman and a woman), cannot be regarded as constitutional.
“However, if anyone, by which we mean both a man and a woman, engages in any kind of sexual activity with an animal, the said aspect of Section 377 is constitutional and it shall remain a penal offence,” the CJI ruled. Any act without the consent of the other person would also invite penal liability.
Justice Nariman directed the Centre to ensure that the verdict was given wide publicity.
Activists across the country celebrated the judgment but cautioned that society and police needed to be sensitised if the judgment were to yield results on the ground.
“It is a fantastic judgment…. The other thing that was very touching is that they (the Supreme Court) apologised to the community for what they have been put through,” said Anjali Gopalan, founder of the Naz Foundation, which had waged a 17-year legal battle for LGBT rights.
- CONG CALLS FOR NATIONWIDE SHUTDOWN AGAINST GOVT’S ‘FUEL LOOT’ ON SEPT 10
In the wake of escalating fuel prices, Congress party on Thursday said that it will organise a nationwide shutdown on September 10, claiming that the common man is bearing the brunt while Prime Minister Modi is busy in ‘jumlebazi’ (rhetoric). It also asked other opposition parties and civil society groups to join their protest against the government.
Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala alleged that the present government has earned crores of rupees by imposing a tax on petrol and diesel.
“The Congress party has decided that we will be giving a call for Bharat Bandh on September 10, Monday, in order to highlight the Rs 11 lakh crore fuel loot and to demand an immediate reduction in central excise duty as also excessive VAT in the states,” he said.
Surjewala said the Congress also wants that petrol and diesel should be brought within the ambit of the GST so that the “common man whose budget has gone haywire is provided the requisite relief”.
Petrol prices in New Delhi and Mumbai rose to an all-time high of Rs 79.51 and Rs 86.91 per litre respectively, on Thursday. Diesel prices too rose up by Rs 0.36 per litre in Delhi (Rs 71.55 per litre) and Rs 0.42 in Mumbai (Rs 75.96 per litre).
Surjewala also launched a scathing attack on the government over the record fall in rupee against the dollar. Taking potshots at PM Modi, he said that those who shouted against the fall in rupee value in 2014 are now sitting in silence.
- 2+2 TALKS STRENGTHEN INDO-US TIES
India and the United States on Thursday sought greater political convergence with a long-term view of relations and enhanced synergy between respective foreign and defence ministries through the inaugural 2+2 dialogue.
Defence Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and James Mattis and Foreign Ministers Sushma Swaraj and Michael Pompeo sat down for separate discussions before the 2+2 dialogue.
Three sessions on energy and people-to-people ties, defence and regional security were part of the dialogue that included all four principals and their delegations.
Followed by lunch and joint press statements, the leaders collectively called on PM Modi.
India and the US inked a vital agreement on seamless exchange of military information — Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) — even as New Delhi is clear that it will “stay the course” in its military relations with Moscow. The purchase of state-of-the-art S-400 Russian air-defence missile system is at the heart of the threat of US sanctions against countries dealing with Moscow.
India has however assured the US that its purchases from Russia do not harm the US’ interests in any manner.
In a joint statement, the two countries named and called upon Pakistan to ensure its territory wasn’t used to launch terror attacks on other countries. “The ministers denounced any use of terrorist proxies in the region, and in this context, they called on Pakistan to ensure that the territory under its control is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries,’’ said the joint statement.
- TOP TRUMP OFFICIALS DENY WRITING EXPLOSIVE OP-ED
Several top Trump administration officials have denied being the author of an explosive and anonymous opinion piece that detailed a “quiet resistance” at work in the White House, amid fevered speculation over the identity of the writer.
The anonymous account, published on Wednesday by the New York Times, was said to have been written by a senior White House official, who claimed a coalition was at work to frustrate Trump’s agenda and “his worst inclinations” until he leaves, or can be removed from, office.
The White House demanded that reporters abandon their “wild obsession” with unmasking the “senior administration official” who wrote the column.
“The media’s wild obsession with the identity of the anonymous coward is recklessly tarnishing the reputation of thousands of great Americans who proudly serve our country and work for the president,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Thursday.
- FRANCE, GERMANY, CANADA AND US BACK BRITAIN OVER SALISBURY POISONING
Britain, France, Germany, Canada and the United States pledged on Thursday to work to disrupt “the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks” and called on Russia to disclose its nerve agent programme.
In a joint statement, the other four countries said they backed Britain’s assessment that Russian officers were behind a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter using Novichok after London charged two Russians in absentia.
- KIM SETS DENUKE TIMELINE
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has given his first timeline for denuclearisation, aiming for the end of US President Donald Trump’s first term, Seoul officials said on Thursday, prompting thanks from Trump who said they would “get it done together”.
Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will also meet in Pyongyang on September 18-20 for a third summit and discuss “practical measures” towards denuclearisation, Moon’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, said a day after meeting Kim. The summit could provide renewed momentum to talks over denuclearisation between North Korea and the US, after Trump cancelled a visit to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month citing lack of progress.
Kim told South Korean officials his faith in Trump was “unchanged” and that he wanted denuclearisation and an end to hostile relations with the US before Trump’s first term in office ends in early 2021, Chung said.
Trump welcomed Kim’s remarks in a trademark tweet. “Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims ‘unwavering faith in President Trump.’ Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will get it done together!” Trump wrote.
- KCR OPTS FOR EARLY POLLS, DISSOLVES TELANGANA HOUSE
Confident of returning to power and to avoid a possible clubbing of Assembly polls with Lok Sabha elections, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao Thursday chose to dissolve the Assembly and seek a fresh mandate.
The decision brings the curtains down on the first elected government in Telangana where the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), of which Rao is the founder president, has 82 members in the 120-strong Assembly.
The Election Commission, in all likelihood, will hold Telangana elections along with Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram, where polls are due later this year.
High among the reasons Rao, popularly known as KCR, chose to sacrifice more than eight months was to delink the Assembly elections in Telangana (due in April 2019) from the Lok Sabha elections, also expected in April-May 2019. He is wary that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will steal the campaign narrative if state and national polls are held simultaneously.
KCR is also said to be apprehensive that if the Congress does stage a comeback in Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan, which go to polls in November, the Telangana Congress will be emboldened and put up a stiff fight.
- GUJARAT: CONGRESS TO HOLD FAST TODAY IN SOLIDARITY WITH HARDIK PATEL
The Congress on Thursday announced to observe a 24-hour-fast across the state on Friday in solidarity with Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel who has been sitting on an indefinite fast since August 25 for farm loan waiver and reservation to Patidar youths in government jobs and education. A Congress delegation, comprising 25 MLAs and other senior leaders, met Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and handed him a memorandum raising a range of issues, including the demands raised by Hardik.
The BJP slammed the Congress, saying that submitting the memorandum to the CM, the Opposition was making efforts to sustain its political existence in the state.
As his hunger strike entered thirteenth day on Thursday, Hardik Patel gave up taking water and expressed his disappointment with the BJP government which has not yet responded to his demands.
- J&K POLICE CHIEF REPLACED
SP Vaid, Director General of the J&K Police has been transferred out of office, following kidnappings of close relatives of ten personnel of the J&K Police who were abducted by militants on September 1. Even as the relatives of the police personnel were later released, the situation raised an alarm throughout the valley, and left the top brass of the police embarrassed.
Vaid, a 1986 batch IPS officer, has been posted as Transport Commissioner J&K, headquartered in Jammu. DGP Prisons, Dilbagh Singh will take his place till a new appointment is made. Vaid served as Director General of the J&K police from March 2016, until now.
Following the crisis on September 1, Vaid’s transfer was considered imminent as it occurred within days of the new J&K Governor, Satya Pal Malik taking charge of the state which has been under Governor’s rule since June 20, this year.
According to the J&K Police, 24 policemen have been killed in the valley this year; many not on active duty.
- SC’S STRONG EXCEPTION TO PUNE POLICE PRESSER
The Supreme Court on Thursday took strong exception to the Pune police press briefing on the arrest of five activists, saying they (police) tried to insinuate the court.
“I watched the press briefing by the Assistant Commissioner, Pune, which insinuated that the Supreme Court should not have intervened at this stage. He has no business saying that and casting aspersions on judges,” Justice DY Chandrachud — who was part of a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra — said.
The court’s outburst came after senior advocate Indira Jaising requested it to restrain the police from going to the press and holding briefings. “Every day they are releasing a letter. Yesterday they released a letter which was shown by a TV channel,” she said. “You must ask your police officials to be more responsible. The matter is before us now and we don’t want the police to be telling us that we are wrong,” the Bench told the ASG.
It adjourned the matter for hearing on September 12 after Mehta apologised to the court on behalf of the state of Maharashtra. It also extended till September 12 the house arrest of five activists in connection with the violence in Koregaon-Bhima in Maharashtra.
- RUPEE BREACHES 72 MARK AGAINST DOLLAR FOR THE FIRST TIME; RBI INTERVENES
The rupee crossed the 72-a-dollar mark on Thursday, but retreated on intervention by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The currency fell to 72.07 a dollar in intra-day trade, but closed just below the 72-mark. Many economists who were critical of the RBI not intervening were coming out in support of the central bank’s hands-off approach, in view of the volatility in other emerging markets (EMs).
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday there was no need for a knee-jerk reaction because of the rupee movement. “The rupee is moving because of global factors,” Jaitley said in an interaction with the media. Except the dollar, the rupee has strengthened or remained in a range against all other currencies, he said.
“Eventually, the inherent strength of the Indian economy has to play a very important role. The RBI is doing whatever is necessary to deal with the situation. I don’t think there’s any need for the world’s fastest-growing economy to react adversely,” Jaitley said.
“Statements from the FM indicate the government is comfortable with a gradual depreciation and we can expect some intervention, which will only stem a sudden fall but not a reversal. We expect the rupee to trade between 71.80 and 72.50,” said Salil Datar, chief executive officer of Essel Finance VKC Forex.
- J&J AGREES TO PAY ₹20L PRELIMINARY RELIEF TO THOSE WHO GOT FAULTY IMPLANTS
Global health major Johnson and Johnson has agreed to pay Rs 20 lakh as minimum compensation to patients in India who suffered due to faulty hip implants, accepting the direction to the firm from drug regulator central Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) of India..
The move is expected to bring some relief to thousands of patients who suffered disability and spent years in pain after undergoing a hip replacement surgery using J&J’s defective ASR hip implant, sources said. In response to an strongly worded order sent by DCGI, the pharmaceutical multinational said it is “agreeable to working with DCGI to compensate ASR patients in India”, in line with the recommendations of a committee headed by Dr Arun Agarwal, former dean of Maulana Azad Medical College.
The move assumes significance because it was awaited whether the company might opt for the legal route to challenge DCGI’s order, which in turn would have resulted in a longer wait and uncertainty for patients in distress.
On Tuesday, the DCGI wrote to J&J asking it to pay a base compensation of Rs 20 lakh to all the patients who had undergone a hip replacement surgery with J&J’s ASR implant. Apart from this, the compensation will be further enhanced based on expert committee’s evaluation of “degree of disability” in individual cases.
- US OPEN 2018: RAFAEL NADAL BEATS DOMINIC THIEM IN EPIC QUARTER-FINAL
Defending champion Rafael Nadal dug deep to win the longest match of this year’s US Open in a classic five-set quarter-final against Dominic Thiem – which finished at 2:03am local time.
World number one Nadal lost the opening set 0-6 after being outpowered by the Austrian ninth seed in New York.
However, the 32-year-old Spanish top seed recovered to lead two sets to one before Thiem levelled in a tie-break. Nadal edged a tense fifth-set tie-break to win 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5).
The 17-time Grand Slam champion clinched victory when Thiem hit an overhead smash long on the first match point, the drama continuing until the last shot in an epic encounter lasting four hours and 49 minutes.
Nadal jumped over the net to console his Austrian opponent at the end, the pair embracing as those left inside Arthur Ashe Stadium rose to their feet to give them a thunderous ovation.
“I said to Dominic: ‘I’m very sorry and keep going.’ He has plenty of time to win. He will have his chances in the future without a doubt,” Nadal said.
Nadal will play Argentine third seed Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 champion, in the semi-finals.
In the other semi final, Kei Nishikori takes on Novak Djokovic.
In women’s Singles, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams brushed aside Latvia’s 19th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-0, in the semi final.
In the other semi final, home favourite Madison Keys lost to Japan’s Naomi Osaka 6-2, 6-4.
- INDIA EYE CONSOLATION WIN IN ALASTAIR COOK’S FAREWELL TEST
A week after England took an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match Test series, India would aim for redemption in the fifth and the final match at The Oval, which starts today. This match will also be the final appearence for former England captain Alastair Cook.
The Virat Kohli-led Indian unit will target to end the two-month long tour to England on a high note and win here at The Oval would see them finish 2-3, which will definitely look much better than 1-4, or a 1-3 for that matter. Despite failing to clinch a historic Test series victory on English soil, Indian coach Ravi Shastri has maintained to keep the boys motivated by describing them as the “best travelling side in last 15 years.”
With nothing at stake and the flop display by Indian openers, it is likely to see a reshuffled squad at The Oval.
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- THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. – Confucius
- OFF TRACK
A man was sued by a woman for defamation of character. She charged that he had called her a pig. The man was found guilty and fined.
After the trial he asked the judge, Does this mean that I cannot call Mrs. Johnson a pig?” The judge said that was true.
“Does this mean I cannot call a pig, ‘Mrs. Johnson’?” the man asked.
The judge replied that he could indeed call a pig ‘Mrs. Johnson’ with no fear of legal action.
The man looked directly at Mrs. Johnson and said, “Good afternoon, Mrs. Johnson!”