Newsletter Sept 28, 2018




 The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to refer to a larger Bench its 1994 verdict which ruled a “mosque is not an essential part of the practice of Islam” and directed the cross-appeals in the Ayodhya title suit to be listed for hearing before a three-judge Bench from October 29.

By a 2:1 verdict, a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said the court’s observation in the 1994 case was made in the limited context of “land acquisition” at the disputed site and it was not relevant for deciding the main title suit, in which cross-appeals against Allahabad High Court’s September 30, 2010 verdict are pending before the top court for eight years.

“We again make it clear that questionable observations in Ismail Faruqui’s case were made in context of land acquisition. Those observations were neither relevant for deciding the suits, nor for deciding these appeals,” said Justice Ashok Bhushan, writing the verdict for himself and the CJI.

However, Justice S Abdul Nazeer dissented, saying, “All mosques, all churches and temples are significant for the community.” The “questionable” observation of the 1994 verdict had permeated into the Allahabad High Court’s decision in the case, he noted. Whether mosque was an essential part of religion cannot be decided without a “detailed examination of the beliefs, tenets and practice of the faith”, Justice Nazeer said, ordering the issue to be referred to a larger Bench.

Muslim parties to the Ayodhya title suit wanted the top court to reconsider the five-judge Constitution Bench ruling in 1994 in M Ismail Faruqui case, which said a mosque was not integral to Islam and Muslims could offer prayers anywhere. They apprehended that the 1994 ruling would adversely affect the outcome of the title dispute.

Eight years after the Allahabad HC’s September 30, 2010 order dividing the 2.7-acre disputed land at the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site equally between Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Wakf Board, the Supreme Court is expected to take up the cross-appeals filed by various parties for hearing from October 29.



Moments after the apex court ruled that hearing in the Ayodhya title suit will start from October 29, Congress struck a note of caution on Thursday, saying all sides should abide by the decision of the court, even as it braced for political impact of the development.

The party certainly does not want to be seen standing in the way of the verdict having paid a political price last December after its Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal sought adjournment of the matter until after 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Sibal’s demand on the eve of the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections was a matter of huge controversy with the BJP attacking the Congress. The BJP eventually won Gujarat.

Yesterday, the Congress lost no time in backing the SC order and chose to attack the BJP for its intent on the temple issue. “The BJP has always conspired to mislead people on the Ram temple issue. When it is out of power it uses Lord Rama to garner votes and when it is in power it sends the Lord to exile,” Congress leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said.

The official stand apart, Congress realises it would be advantage BJP should hearing in the Ayodhya title suit begin from October 29.



 India has raised objections over Pakistan raking up the Kashmir issue at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting, saying it is completely “unwarranted” for the grouping as well as its member countries to discuss matters related to India’s internal affairs in any multilateral set up.

Pakistan raked up the Kashmir issue at the OIC Contact Group meeting held Wednesday on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly.

“We always note with regret that the matter which is very internal to Indian affairs was again discussed at the OIC,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters in New York.“We have said in the past that OIC has no locus standi to comment on India’s internal affairs” and it is completely unwarranted for OIC as well as its member countries to discuss matters related to India’s internal affairs in any multi-organisation set up.



 The Election Commission of India on Thursday announced that the model code of conduct would come in force from the day of premature dissolution of a Legislative Assembly. In a letter addressed to the Union Cabinet Secretary and all Chief Secretaries of states and Union Territories, the ECI, while quoting the Supreme Court’s order in SR Bommai case in 1994, said, “The caretaker government should merely carry on the day-to-day business and desist from taking any major policy decision.”

The immediate impact of the EC order would first be felt in Telangana, where ruling TRS boss and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, had recommended premature dissolution of Assembly, which was accepted by Governor ESL Narasimhan, who asked him to continue as the caretaker head of the government. The model code usually comes into force the day the EC announces polls and remains enforced till the electoral process is completed. The EC further insisted that the MCC “shall apply on the caretaker government as well as the central government in so far as matters relating to that state are concerned”.

The prohibition under MCC will include “use of official resources for any non-official purpose” and also “combining of official visit with electioneering work”.





In a relief for the Indian expat community in the US, H-1B visa holders are not covered, for the time being, by the deportation norms coming into force from October 1. The leeway also applies to L-1 visa holders on intra-company transfers.

The new policy of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) enables officials to start deportation proceedings against individuals whose applications for visa extension or change in status (say, from tourist to student) have been denied and who are not in a period of authorised stay at the time of the denial.

“The policy will not be implemented with respect to employment-based petitions and humanitarian applications and petitions, at this time,” said a USCIS statement. The USCIS is taking an incremental approach to implement its updated Notice to Appear (NTA) policy, announced on June 28. Serving of an NTA is the first stage in deportation proceedings.



The Maldivian opposition appealed to the international community on Thursday to help ensure a peaceful transition of power amid fears that strongman Abdulla Yameen may cling onto power despite his shock election defeat.

The joint opposition, which includes four political parties that successfully put forward the little-known Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at Sunday’s vote, called for external help to re-establish democracy in the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago.

“In this regard, we look towards our friends and partners in the international community to assist us, as we move forward in trying to create a Maldives in which all citizens can enjoy peace, prosperity and justice,” the opposition said in a statement. It did not say what form of assistance was requested, but opposition sources said they were looking for strong foreign warnings to Yameen to go quietly.

Yameen decisively lost Sunday’s election, despite all his main rivals being in prison or in exile, sparse media coverage of the opposition, and monitors and the opposition predicting vote-rigging.





The Supreme Court’s decision, declining to set up a larger bench for a relook of its 1994 verdict which held that a “mosque is not an essential part of the practice of Islam” drew widely divergent reactions from different leaders of the Muslim organisations.

Welcoming the decision, Babri Masjid Action Committee convenor Zafaryab Jilani said that in clarifying the question of whether a mosque is integral to Islam the court has paved the way for an amicable settlement to the Babri dispute. “The court clarified that the 1994 judgment was in a particular context and that the question is not relevant to the title suit. People are unnecessarily trying to create an impression that this has bearing on the upcoming hearing on Ayodhya. The court today clarified just that – it said the previous verdict has no relevance to the title suit. We are satisfied with the judgment; now the Ayodhya hearing can commence.” he said.

Kamal Farooqui, member, All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), on the other hand, said that “things have gone haywire” with Thursday’s decision. “The immediate implication of mosque not being an integral part of Islam is that there is no bar on the government acquiring the Babri Masjid land for its three-way division, as mandated by Allahabad High Court,” he said.

Emphasising that mosque is an integral part of Islam —- “the Quran says so, as does the Hadees” – Asaduddin Owaisi, the Lok Sabha MP and a member of the executive committee of AIMPLB, said, “It would have been in the fitness of things for the matter to be referred to a larger bench. First they said beard is not integral to Islam, then they said triple talaq is not integral to Islam, now they say mosque is not integral to Islam. What is the Indian Muslim left with then?”

The RSS and its affiliate Vishwa Hindu Parishad expressed satisfaction while hoping for an early decision on the matter. VHP president Alok Kumar stated that all sorts of impediments to “delay the matter” (construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya) have now been removed.


 In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday declared unconstitutional Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code which punished only men for having sexual relationship with a married woman.

According to Section 497, whosoever has sexual intercourse with the wife of another man is guilty of adultery, which is punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. It says the woman in question can’t be punished as an abettor.

In a unanimous verdict, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the archaic Victorian era law violated a woman’s right to equality and right to non-discrimination guaranteed under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution as it treated women as chattels.

In all there were four concurring verdicts. The first one by the CJI for himself and Justice AM Khanwikkar and then one each–separate but concurring verdicts by Justice RF Nariman, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra–who all declared Section 497 of the IPC unconstitutional.

The top court rejected the Centre’s demand to make adultery gender-neutral and keep it on the statute book in order to protect sanctity of the institution of marriage. The Centre had maintained that striking down Section 497 of the IPC would prove to be detrimental to intrinsic Indian ethos which gave paramount importance to the institution and sanctity of marriage.

While declaring the penal provision on adultery unconstitutional, CJI Misra cautioned that the verdict should not be taken as a licence to indulge in such acts. The bench clarified that adultery could still be used as a ground for divorce by a husband or a wife in matrimonial proceedings.


Interestingly, Justice DY Chandrachud has overruled his father’s verdict once again.

His father, Justice YV Chandrachud had earlier upheld the validity of Section 497 of the IPC.

In August 2017, the same son had overruled his father in the infamous ADM Jabalpur case of 1976.



The Centre’s decision to celebrate the second anniversary of the cross-border surgical strikes as a three-day “Parakram Parv”, ahead of the 2019 general elections, has raised some eyebrows in the defence establishment.

Several military officers expressed “unease” at the “continuing politicisation” of the surgical strikes, stressing that covert military operations should not be publicised to score points in political battles.

The MoD, however, said the surgical strikes had “strategic ramifications and were aimed to dissuade inimical adversary from adopting the path of violence and to ensure an environment of peace”. “Armed forces have always brought laurels to the nation. That is why we celebrate Vijay Diwas, Kargil Vijay Diwas and many battle honours days,” said a spokesperson, adding the main function of the Parakram Parv will be held at the India Gate lawns in New Delhi from September 28 to 30.



 The RBI yesterday allowed banks to dip further into statutory cash reserves in a bid to ease a liquidity squeeze afflicting the nation’s money markets.

RBI in a statement said banks could ‘carve out’ up to 15% of holdings under the statutory liquidity reserves to meet their liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) requirements as compared to 13% now.

The move by the central bank follows concerns over tight liquidity conditions and banks’ unwillingness to lend to NBFCs.

RBI said it “stands ready to meet the durable liquidity requirements of the system through various available instruments depending on its dynamic assessment of the evolving liquidity and market conditions.”

Concerns of liquidity crunch were triggered following defaults by an IL&FS group company. It spread to NBFCs, which in turn roiled financial markets.

IL&FS Financial Services, a group company of IL&FS, defaulted on one of its commercial paper issuances due for repayment on Monday. This was the third default by the company.



“If my words can trigger the #MeToo movement in India, my sufferings will not have gone waste,” says former Miss India and Bollywood actor Tanushree Dutta.

Tanushree, who now lives in the US, is in India to visit her family. In interviews over the last couple of days, she has alleged that actor Nana Patekar sexually harassed her during a film shoot ten years ago.

She said the alleged incident transpired when she was shooting for a song for 2009 film Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss. “It was a bullying tactic and Nana Patekar misbehaved with me. He got choreographer Ganesh Acharya to change the steps on the day of the shoot to include intimate moves. I walked out of the shoot. The producer later called goons to harass me while I waited in my vanity van for my family members to arrive. As I was leaving with my parents, the goons attacked the car,” she alleged.

Dutta further alleged that several members of the industry, including the film’s producer Samee Siddiqui and director Rakesh Sarang, were aware of the incident and chose to side with Patekar.

In interviews to a television channel, Acharya, Patekar and Sarang have dismissed Dutta’s allegations.

“My fight is not against Nana Patekar — of course I would be happy if this exercise brings me justice — but my primary goal is to point out the hypocrisy and misogyny in the industry,” Tanushree said.



 The US Securities and Exchange Commission charged Tesla CEO Elon Musk with securities fraud, alleging he misled investors last month in tweets about taking the company private.

Musk tweeted August 7 that he had “secured” funding to privatize the electric automaker at $420 a share, causing a brief spike in Tesla’s share price.

The SEC said Musk’s statements on Twitter were “false and misleading” and that he had never discussed the plans with company officials or potential funders.

Musk later said he later decided against the plan.

The charges were a fresh blow to Musk and Tesla, which have also been buffeted in recent months as the company struggled to reach production targets and Musk gave emotional comments to the media, including one interview where he appeared to smoke marijuana.



India will be aiming to reassert their continental supremacy in the grand finale of the Asia Cup in Dubai today.

A passionate Bangladesh turned out to be the party-poopers on Wednesday as they wrecked the prospects of an India-Pakistan summit clash with a gutsy performance despite losing key players to injury.  On paper, India will remain overwhelming favourites to win the tournament for a record seventh time while Bangladesh will be hoping to be third-time lucky in a summit clash.

But heading into the final, Bangladesh are facing injury woes. Star batsman Tamim Iqbal is already out with a fractured hand and Bangladesh will also not have premier all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan in the line-up owing to a finger injury.

After resting five regulars during a wake-up call from Afghanistan in their tied Super Four encounter, the order is expected to be restored in the summit clash.

The opening pair of skipper Rohit Sharma and his deputy Shikhar Dhawan will be back while Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Yuzvendra Chahal will bolster the bowling.



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 I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. – Thomas Jefferson



A man takes his girl out. On the way home he stops five miles out of town and tells her he wants her. She refuses to put out so he . . . puts her out. She walks back.

The next night they go back out again. This time, though, he has the presence of mind to go out of town 15 miles before he stops the car and proposes the same. She declines. Once again, she’s put out of the car, and treks 15 long miles back home.

Third night (you see a pattern here?) they’re out. 30 miles away from home he stops the car. And proposes the same thing yet again. But this time she gives in. And rather enthusiastically!

Later, he asks her why she gave in finally.

She replies, “Look, for a friend, I’d walk five miles. I’d even walk fifteen miles. But there’s no way on earth I’d walk thirty miles EVEN to save a FRIEND of mine from a case of Herpes!”

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