Newsletter Sept 20, 2018




Observing that liberty of an individual cannot be sacrificed in the alter of conjecture, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra government to produce at least one best document to justify the arrest of five human rights activists, journalists and lawyers on August 28.

When the ASG told the court that the `case diary’ is self explanatory, the CJI asked the ASG “show us your one best document first.

The Bench was hearing petitions filed by Dr Romila Thapar and others challenging the arrest of five activists. The five activists Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha were taken into custody from different parts of the country on August 28. The next day the apex court had directed that they be kept under `house arrest’ and this has been extended further.

The ASG questioned the maintainability of the petition said the case and arrests had nothing to do with dissent or writings by the activists. “This concerns serious offences. There is material recovered from their laptops, computers, hard disks, etc. We want your Lordships to go through the materials, which will shock the court’s conscience. Don’t make up your mind without going through the materials in full.”

Justice Chandrachud intervened and told the ASG “the court has to look with a hawk’s eye at the case of activists’ arrest in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence. Our institutions should be robust enough to accommodate dissent. We want to have a holistic view. We won’t go by one or two documents. Don’t raise your opposition about this court entertaining the petition. We want our shoulders to be robust and not restricted. We feel liberty can’t be sacrificed in the alter of conjecture. We will look at all these attempts with the hawk’s eyes.



Citing “compelling necessity”, the Union Cabinet yesterday approved an ordinance —signed by the President later in the day — making the practice of instant triple talaq a cognisable offence with a provision of a three-year jail term for the husband.

Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Congress’ reluctance to support the Bill in the Rajya Sabha had forced the government to look for an alternative route.

He insisted that the decision was taken under “compelling necessity” as the practice continued “unabated” even after the Supreme Court annulled it last year and directed the government to bring about a legal framework to deal with the issue.

Prasad accused the Congress of not cooperating in the passage of the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill because of vote-bank politics. “It is unfortunate that despite being led by a woman, the Congress has not been forthcoming to support the law, which is aimed at giving equality and gender justice to Muslim women,” he said. He also urged BSP leader Mayawati and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee to help in the passage of the Bill pending in the RS, where the government lacks numbers. The LS has already passed the Bill.

Under the proposed ordinance, instant triple talaq would be illegal and void.

Allaying fears about the possible misuse of the proposed law, the minister said the government had included certain safeguards such as adding a provision of bail for the accused before trial. These amendments were cleared by the Cabinet on August 29.



 Weeks after the PDP and the National Conference announced a boycott of the municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the state Congress unit Wednesday said that they would contest the civic polls but with a rider — that the party will continue to “monitor the situation in the Valley” and may review its decision anytime.

Announcing his party’s decision in Srinagar, J&K Pradesh Congress’ Committee (JKPCC) chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir said that the Congress, “with full energy and utilising its full might”, will participate in the elections to stop “communal forces” from occupying the grassroots democratic units.

“We don’t want communal forces to reach to the villages and occupy the democracy units at the village level,” said Mir.

Asked about Article 35A, Mir said that Congress party supports the safeguarding of Article 35A, and, through the memorandum and commitment, has made it clear that the Congress party is not in support of tinkering with Article 35A.



The Congress on Wednesday took the rare step of petitioning the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for a thorough examination of the Rafale deal, alleging corruption and norm violations by the Narendra Modi government. It is the CAG’s constitutional mandate to audit the government’s expenses, and political parties hardly ever approach it with complaints.

“We request the CAG to undertake its constitutional duty by conducting a time-bound special and forensic audit by examining the record threadbare, so that the truth is told to the people of India in a comprehensive and transparent manner affixing the responsibility of Modi government,” the petition said.

It detailed the history of the negotiations, accused Prime Minister Modi of deciding to buy the 36 fighter jets without following due procedure, and cited the controversies over the offset contract and the pricing.

CAG Rajiv Mehrishi told the Congress delegation his office was already studying the matter and had asked the government for the relevant documents.





After a series of political and legal setbacks since his ouster from power in July 2017, former Premier Nawaz Sharif and his political heir Maryam Nawaz had the first sigh of relief as they came out of jail on bail on Wednesday night.

Legal experts and lawyers, however, foresee a long battle for the former premier as two more corruption references are being heard in the accountability court, and it might take several weeks or months before the cases are finally decided, and may involve due appeals process.

Sharif was sentenced to 10 years in jail, his daughter seven years and son-in-law one year by the accountability court on July 6 on charges of owning assets beyond means, concealment of facts etc.

The sentences would remain suspended until final decision in the case, the judgment said.



 South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North’s leader Kim Jong Un with South Korean delegation after a luncheon in Pyongyang

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un agreed to make a historic visit to Seoul soon and close a missile testing site in front of international inspectors at a summit with the South’s President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang on Wednesday.

Progress on the key issue of the North’s nuclear arsenal was limited, but the two signed a document to strengthen ties between the two halves of the divided peninsula. The agreement “carries the people’s fresh hope and the people’s strong, flaming desire for reunification”, Kim said.

His trip to Seoul would be the first by a Northern leader since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, when hostilities ceased with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving them technically in a state of war.

Moon added that the visit could happen this year and would be a “monumental milestone in inter-Korean relations”.

In their agreement, the North also agreed to “permanently close” a missile engine testing site and launch facility in Tongchang-ri “in the presence of experts from relevant nations”.



 “More than two years since the 2016 referendum, a political, economic and possibly constitutional crisis is gathering across the United Kingdom… the most viable and democratic way of resolving it is to allow the public to have their say on Brexit. To deny them a voice challenges the basic principle of informed consent,” said Lord Kerr, a former top civil servant and former U.K. Ambassador to the EU in the 1990s, who authored a report published on Wednesday.

Following consultations with constitutional and legal experts, the report concluded that the “die is not irrevocably cast… there is still time, and until the U.K. has left the EU, the Article 50 letter can be withdrawn,” he said, referring to the mechanism that the U.K. triggered last year, which set a two-year deadline for Britain to leave the EU. The country is set to leave on March 29 next year.

According to a poll published by YouGov in July, 42% of people in the U.K. believe there should be a referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal, while 40% do not.





 Madhav Sadasiva Golwalkar (popularly known as Sri Guruji), the second and the longest-serving chief of the RSS credited with widening the RSS’s footprints in post-Independent India, did not find any mention among 32 personalities referred to by the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat during the two days of his lecture series on the future of India.

Bhagwat had to make one reference on the last day, Wednesday, when he was responding to a question on Golwalkar’s ‘Bunch of Thoughts where Muslims are called the shatru (enemy).

“As far as Bunch of Thoughts goes, every statement carries a context of time and circumstance…his enduring thoughts are in a popular edition in which we have removed all remarks that have a temporary context and retained those that will endure for ages. You won’t find the (Muslim-is-an-enemy) remark there,” said Bhagwat.

The only other time Bhagwat referred to Golwalkar was in response to a question when he made a passing mention of a little-known incident from Golwalkar’s life endorsing an inter-caste marriage in 1942.

The omission of Golwalkar’s name was startling given that Bhagwat invoked 32 different personalities as many as 102 times in the first two days of his lectures to show how the Sangh incorporates the best of diverse sources.

For the Sangh, Golwalkar is considered its prime architect and is widely revered. He took over as RSS chief after the death of founder Hedgewar in 1940 and steered the RSS until 1973.

This omission of Golwalkar also holds significance given that he remains the most contentious Sangh figure who has always been invoked by the Sangh’s strongest critics to call out the RSS’s hard line on the Constitution and the position of Muslims in India.



The Uttarakhand Assembly unanimously passed a resolution on Wednesday to declare cow the ‘Rashtra Mata’ or the mother of the nation.

Opposition Congress also supported the resolution. However, party leaders said in the Assembly that besides conferring the status of ‘Rashtra Mata’, efforts must also be made to conserve and protect the cow and its progeny.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Indira Hridayesh, said, “Giving a very high status to the cow is good, but we often hear that cows are dying in cow shelters across the country due to lack of care and required facilities. The Congress has no problem with the cow being declared Rashtra Mata, but much more needs to be done on the ground to truly respect the cow.”



For as long as a month from the day she was allegedly gangraped, the 16-year-old couldn’t speak a word about it. But on September 14, after she missed her period, the fear of being pregnant finally made her confide in a friend in the hostel of their boarding school on the outskirts of Dehradun.

That’s when, police and officials said, the school authorities got together to ensure silence and secrecy.

The girl told the friend that on August 14, four boys, all fellow students, had taken turns to allegedly rape her inside a room on the campus. She confided that her month-long silence was due to fear and shock from the alleged rape and warnings from the boys that she would be defamed if she told anyone about it.

According to the sequence of events put together by police and officials probing the case, and the FIR filed by the girl’s father, she told the school administrative officer’s wife and the hostel caretaker about the alleged rape and fear of pregnancy. The officer’s wife told her husband about the incident, and both convinced the girl to consume a home-made drink, “kadhaa”, to end a possible pregnancy.

Then they took the matter to the principal, police and officials said. Meanwhile, they said, experiments with “kadhaa” and other medicines continued in the hostel.

On Tuesday, five members of the school administration and staff — the director, principal, the administrative officer and his wife, and the hostel caretaker — and one of the boys, who is an adult, were presented in the POCSO court and sent to judicial custody for 14 days. The three minor boys were taken to the juvenile justice board facility in Dehradun.



 India is all set to roll out the National Registry of Sexual Offenders on Thursday, and will become the ninth country in the world to set up and maintain such a database. The Indian registry will include names, photographs, residential address, fingerprints, DNA samples, and PAN and Aadhaar numbers, of convicted sexual offenders.

The database will contain more than 4.5 lakh cases, including profiles of first-time and repeat offenders, based on details compiled from prisons across the country. The offenders will be classified on the basis of criminal history to ascertain if “they pose a serious danger to the community”.

The registry will be available only to law enforcement agencies in India, unlike in the US where the database maintained by the FBI can be accessed by the public. The registries maintained by other countries — UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and Trinidad & Tobago — are available only to law enforcement agencies.



The National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA) has come to the aid of homebuyers by concluding that a builder of affordable houses has profiteered by not passing the benefits of input tax credit to the buyers. It has asked officials to ensure that the profiteered amount is passed on to the buyers.

“This is the first case where the authority has found evidence of profiteering in terms of input tax credit. All other orders relate to tax cuts,” said Harpreet Singh, partner KPMG.

A total of 109 homebuyers had filed an application against a builder before the Haryana state screening committee for not passing input tax credit of the GST paid on construction services. They had booked flats under the Haryana Affordable Housing Policy 2013, and paid excise duty and Value Added Tax (VAT).

After the GST rollout, 12 per cent tax was levied on the construction service, which was further reduced to 8 per cent from January 25, 2018.

But the benefit accrued to the builder post-GST had not been passed to the flat buyers. The builder had argued that there has been an increase in tax rate as earlier VAT was levied at 5.25 per cent and, hence, no benefit could be passed on to applicants.

However, the NAA opined that sale consideration did not include taxes, surcharges, etc, and homebuyers were liable to pay all taxes, thus, the builder was obligated to pass on the benefit of input tax credit.



Amazon India’s flagship campaign ‘Apni Dukaan’, to connect with customers in the remotest parts of the country, could run into copyright issues. Pune-based businessman Ravi Jain, who registered as a domain name back in 2007, wants Amazon to stop using the campaign. The owners of, a platform to sell kitchen appliances, electronics and furniture, are in the process of asking Amazon, which entered India in 2013, to remove all references to ‘Apni Dukaan’ from its advertisements and marketing campaigns as they own the intellectual property rights of the brand.

“Our firm and Amazon have no connection. As we own the trademark of Apni Dukaan, we are going to request Amazon to remove references to Apni Dukaan in all the ad and marketing campaigns,” Jain said.

Jain had bought the domain name a decade ago for just Rs 500. Analysts pointed out that it would be a windfall for him if Amazon were to buy the brand name.

Apni Dukaan, a campaign which Amazon launched via Youtube advertisements and videos sometime in 2016, is an integral part of the company’s India play.



India ticked all the boxes as they decimated Pakistan by eight wickets in a lopsided Asia Cup group league encounter here on Wednesday. It was a superlative effort from the bowling unit that saw India dismiss Pakistan for a paltry 162 in 43.1 overs before Rohit Sharma (52 off 39 balls) and Shikhat Dhawan (46 off 54 balls) added 86 for the opening wicket to ensure a smooth chase for the Men in Blue in only 29 overs. This was India’s most comprehensive victory in terms of balls remaining (126).

After a wakeup call against Hong Kong, the Pakistan match was a near perfect performance for India as Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/15) and Kedar Jadhav (3/23) were perfectly complemented by Jasprit Bumrah (2/23) and Kuldeep Yadav (1/37).

If Kuldeep’s googly to snuff out Babar Azam was the turning point, Kedar Jadhav’s unconventional side-arm off-breaks broke the lower middle-order. With the pressure of scoreboard virtually non-existent, Rohit and Dhawan showed why they are one of the most formidable opening pairs in white-ball cricket.



 Sensex 37,121 (-170), Nifty 11,234 (-45), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores) 33,074

Nasdaq 7,950 (-6) Dow 26,406 (+159), S&P 2,908 (+4)

US$-Rs. 72.25 GBP-Rs. 95.01, Euro-Rs. 84.36, UAE Dhm-Rs.19.66, Can$-Rs. 55.78, Aus$- Rs. 52.38

GBP 0.76 /US$, Euro 0.85 /US$, Jap.Yen 112.29 /US$, Aus$ 1.37 /US$, Sing 1.36 /US$, Bang Taka 83.06 /US$, Can$ 1.29 /US$, Mal Ring 4.13 /US$,

Pak Re 123.36 /US$, Phil Peso 53.96 /US$, Russian Rouble 66.97 /US$, NZ$ 1.51 /US$, Thai Baht 32.41 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 27.97 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 6,289

Dollar Index 94.11 Brent Crude 79.60 BDI 1373

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,206 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3024 / 2936, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 40,000



 When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people. – Abraham Joshua Heschel



Two guys were standing at heaven’s gate, waiting to be interviewed by St. Peter.

The first guy: “How did you get here?”

The second guy: “Hypothermia. You?”

The first guy: “You won’t believe it. I was sure my wife was cheating on me, so I came home early one day hoping to find the guy. I accused my wife of unfaithfulness and searched the whole house without any luck. Then I felt so bad about the whole thing I had a massive heart attack.”

The second guy: “Oh, man, if you had checked the walk-in freezer we’d both be alive!”

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