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12 DEC 2023



In a win of sorts for the Modi govt, the Supreme Court on Monday unanimously upheld its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution that bestowed special status upon the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, ordered restoration of statehood "at the earliest" and set a September 30, 2024, deadline for holding the assembly elections.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud delivered three concurring judgments.

Writing the judgment for himself and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, CJI Chandrachud ruled that Article 370 was a temporary provision and the President of India was empowered to revoke it in the absence of the Constituent Assembly of the erstwhile state whose term expired in 1957.

"Article 370 of the Constitution read together with Article 1 leaves no manner of doubt that the integration of Jammu and Kashmir as a part of the nation, which in itself was a Union of States, was complete. Any interpretation of Article 370 cannot postulate that the integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India was temporary," the court held.

Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sanjiv Khanna penned separate but concurring verdicts on the issue.

The apex court also upheld the validity of the Union govt's decision to carve out the Union territory of Ladakh from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Supreme Court verdict is a "resounding declaration of hope, progress, unity for our sisters and brothers in J&K, Ladakh," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.





"In view of the statement we do not find it necessary to determine whether the reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir is permissible under Article 3.

"However, we uphold the validity of the decision to carve out the Union territory of Ladakh in view of Article 3(a) read with Explanation I which permits forming a Union territory by separation of a territory from any state," he said.

The bench dealt with the validity of the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order (CO)-272 dated August 5, 2019, by which all provisions of the Constitution of India were applied to J-K and the word 'constituent assembly' in Article 370 (3) was modified to 'legislative assembly'.

"Article 370 cannot be amended by exercise of power under Article 370(1)(d)," the bench said, adding, "Paragraph 2 of CO 272 by which Article 370 was amended through Article 367 is ultra vires Article 370(1)(d) because it modifies Article 370, in effect, without following the procedure prescribed to modify Article 370. An interpretation clause cannot be used to bypass the procedure laid down for amendment."

The bench said recourse must have been taken to the procedure contemplated by Article 370(3) if Article 370 was to cease to operate or was to be amended or modified in its application to Jammu and Kashmir.

"The concurrence of the govt of the state was not necessary for the President of India to exercise power under Article 370(1)(d) to apply all provisions of the Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir. The exercise of power by the President under Article 370(1)(d) to issue CO 272 is not mala fide. Thus, CO 272 is valid to the extent that it applies all the provisions of the Constitution of India to the State of Jammu and Kashmir," it said.

Pronouncing his verdict, Justice Kaul said the purpose of Article 370 was to slowly bring J&K at par with other Indian states. He ordered setting up of an "impartial truth-and-reconciliation commission" to probe human rights violations, both by State and non-State actors, at least since 1980.





As the news of the verdict came in, National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah said in a post on X that he was disappointed but not disheartened. "The struggle will continue," Abdullah asserted.

People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti said the Supreme Court's decision marks the defeat of the idea of India with which the Muslim-majority state had acceded in 1947. ”Today an unconstitutional and illegal act that took place in the Parliament was declared legal. It is nothing less than a death sentence not only for Jammu and Kashmir but for the idea of India,” Mufti said in a five-minute video message she posted on X.

Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) chairperson Ghulam Nabi Azad said the verdict was "sad and unfortunate" but it had to be accepted.





Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday assured the country that the beginning of building a "new and developed Kashmir" that will be free from terrorism has been made under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that full statehood would be restored to Jammu and Kashmir at an appropriate time.

He was replying to the over four-hour debate on the JK Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill and JK Reservation (Amendment) Bill -- seeking to nominate two members from the Kashmiri migrant community and one representing the displaced persons from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to the legislative assembly, besides providing reservation to certain communities in Jammu and Kashmir.

Parliament has now passed the two bills as Rajya Sabha cleared them with a voice vote on Monday after Shah's reply. These were passed by the Lok Sabha last week.

Shah attacked the opposition saying it was unable to see the change on the ground in Jammu and Kashmir after the scrapping of Article 370.

"I want to assure the people of the country, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised from the ramparts of the Red Fort, that the youth of Kashmir will no longer carry guns or stones and will instead carry laptops…..The beginning of building a 'New Kashmir' has been made which will be free from terrorism. The foundation of a 'new and developed' Kashmir has been laid and when India becomes developed, Kashmir will stand equally among the other states, where tourists from across the world would come," he said.

He also alleged that Jammu and Kashmir suffered due to the "mistakes" of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and listed decisions like the "untimely" ceasefire and taking the Kashmir issue to the United Nations among them.

The opposition led by the Congress, however, walked out of the House midway during the home minister's reply.









The Israeli military said it had taken control of the area surrounding the former headquarters of Hamas in Gaza City, and that its forces were engaged in intense battles in three areas of the Gaza Strip where it said the group still had “strongholds”, including in the south, where the UN has warned of an increasingly perilous humanitarian crisis.

Israel is yet to find Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader, who they believe is hiding in southern Gaza. Admiral Hagari said that capturing or killing him is still a goal of the war, which has entered its third month. The director of Israel’s national security council, Tzahi Hanegbi, has rejected the idea that the lives of Sinwar and other top Hamas leaders could be spared if they went into exile outside Gaza.

Hamas on Sunday warned the remaining 137 hostages it holds won’t survive unless Israel meets its demands and frees more Palestinian prisoners. Israeli PM Netanyahu called on the group to “surrender now”. “It is the beginning of the end of Hamas. I say to the Hamas terrorists: It’s over”.

With very little aid allowed into Gaza, Palestinians face severe shortages of food, water and other basic goods.





The president of Harvard University, Claudine Gay, faced escalating pressure Sunday to resign as prominent alumni, donors and politicians called for her ouster. But a group of faculty members rallied to support her, arguing that she was being railroaded for a moment of poorly worded remarks about antisemitism.

As of Sunday evening, more than 500 members of the Harvard faculty had signed a petition urging to “resist political pressures that are at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom.” Harvard has about 2,300 faculty members. Gay is the first Black woman to lead Harvard and took on the role less than six months ago. Late Saturday, the president of the University of Pennsylvania, Liz Magill, resigned amid the same row.





After four days of deadlock, a new draft agreement text emerged at COP28 climate meeting that severely watered down earlier provision on fossil fuel elimination but singled out coal for a rapid phase-down, which could be problematic for India.

The draft agreement text was immediately rejected by the European Union and some small island states, which could prolong the negotiations beyond the scheduled closing day on Tuesday. “We think that there are elements in the text that are wholly unacceptable,” Spain’s Minister for Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera said, speaking on behalf of EU.

“I cannot hide the fact from you that the text is disappointing,” EU climate commissioner said. “There are good things, but overall it is clearly insufficient and not adequate to addressing the problem we are here to address,” he said.

The new draft called upon countries to “reduce both consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner”.

Fossil fuels, which account for nearly 80 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, have never been mentioned in any COP decision earlier. These decisions would only talk about the need to reduce emissions, but kept away from saying what needed to be done to reduce these emissions.

India did not react to Monday’s draft agreement but has been making it clear that attempts to single out coal for accelerated reduction was discriminatory.









Mohan Yadav (58), a BJP MLA from Ujjain South, will be sworn in as the next Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, the party announced on Monday. Yadav, who had defeated the rival Congress candidate by a margin of 12,941 votes, will succeed Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who completed four terms as the CM of the state where the BJP registered a resounding victory in the assembly polls.

Ever since the results, speculation has been rife over who the next CM would be – Shivraj, whose ‘laadli behna’ scheme played a key role in the party’s win, or a new face.

“He (Yadav) is an able administrator. We expect him to carry forward the party’s development policies. The BJP has asked me to be a state legislator; I will fulfil my duties. I was never in the race myself,” Singh said.

Yadav, an OBC leader, was elected at a meeting in Bhopal held in the evening in presence of central observers, the BJP said.

An MLA from Ujjain for three terms, Yadav served as the education minister in the govt under Chouhan. According to the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha website, he holds a degree in law and has an MBA and a PhD. He was awarded by the President of India in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 for promoting tourism in the state.





Opposition and treasury benches on Monday engaged in a heated verbal duel in Rajya Sabha after a controversial remark by a DMK member during a discussion on Jammu and Kashmir bills, following which Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar expunged it and reminded the MPs of the responsibility that came with the freedom of speech.

Disapproving of M Mohamed Abdulla's remarks, Mr Dhankhar told the DMK member, who also described the abrogation of Article 370 as an attack on federalism, that the freedom of speech in the Upper House "is not unqualified". "Can we quote anything in this House? Can we go to the extent of it being seditious, challenging our integrity, going against our Constitution?” he said during the proceedings.

Dhankar’s disapproval followed Abdulla invoking Periyar's words in the Rajya Sabha, asserting the right to self-determination for every race. The Chair deemed Abdulla's statement antithetical to the Constitution. Dhankhar remarked, "Can the House subscribe to this? Can you observe silence on this?" Observing that Abdulla was "abusing the platform", Mr Dhankhar expunged the remarks and said he had gone too far. He also asked the Opposition members why they were silent on such an issue.

Senior Congress leader KC Venugopal asked the Chairman to go through records and verify in what context Periyar had made the remarks, which was quoted by the DMK member.

Mr Dhankar retorted, "Can we quote anything in this House? Can we go to the extent of it being seditious, challenging our integrity, going against our Constitution?"

In response, Kharge said Abdulla had only quoted Periyar and whether supporting it or against it can be a matter of discussion but "it is very undemocratic to stop someone from speaking in the house".

Congress member Jairam Ramesh asserted that his party does not support the statement.

DMK party leader Tiruchi Siva accused the ruling members of creating hype and trying to give a different colour to "a very ordinary statement" made by Mr Abdulla.





The Centre has decided to withdraw the three new criminal law bills from Lok Sabha to bring in new draft laws, reflecting some of the changes suggested by the Parliamentary panel, including replacing “mental illness” as a defence of the accused with “unsound mind” in the Bhartiya Nyay Samhita (BNS) 2023.

The BNS has omitted Section 497 of the IPC since the Supreme Court, in a ruling in 2018, had decriminalised adultery. However, the committee has expressed concerns there is a need to retain the provision to safeguard the sanctity of the institution of marriage, while it can be tweaked to address the gender discrimination aspect.

The govt has disagreed, sources said. The reworked bills may face opposition from the INDIA bloc in Parliament. The opposition parties have already decided to coordinate their floor strategy in Parliament on the three bills, as well as on the Chief Election Commissioner and Other ECs (Appointment, Conditions of Service, and Term of Office) Bill.

They have decided to demand that the three Bills be referred to a joint Select Committee. The Bills have already been scrutinised by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, and the govt is unlikely to accept the opposition demand.

On August 11, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had introduced three Bills in Lok Sabha which were referred to a standing committee the same day.

From a new provision on mob lynching, punishable by seven years imprisonment or life imprisonment or death penalty; to enabling speedy justice through video trials, e-filing of FIRs; expanding the definition of sedition; bringing corruption, terrorism, and organized crime under the penal laws; introducing community service and solitary confinement as new forms of punishment; holding trials in the absence of an accused; among others — the new Bills provide for substantive changes in criminal jurisprudence.





The return to the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) by a few states would put a huge burden on their finances, restricting them from undertaking capital expenditure to drive the growth, a report released by the Reserve Bank of India said. Any reversion to OPS by the states will be a major step backwards, undermining the benefits of past reforms and compromising the interest of future generations, the RBI said in State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2023-24, released on Monday.

The OPS is a defined benefit (DB) scheme under which, after retirement, state govt employees get a pension fixed at 50 per cent of the last drawn salary. The NPS is a defined contribution (DC) scheme in which the employees’ defined contribution is 10 per cent of basic salary and dearness allowances, with a matching contribution from the state govt.

In a recent report, Elara Securities India said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s win will see a readoption of the NPS is states, such as Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where the Congress had shifted to OPS, but would see adoption of the old scheme in Telangana, where Congress has won.

Internal estimates suggest that if all the state govts revert to OPS from the NPS, the cumulative fiscal burden could be as high as 4.5 times that of NPS, with the additional burden reaching 0.9 per cent of GDP annually by 2060, the RBI’s report said.





Actor Ranbir Kapoor has breached Rs 700 cr globally. The actor’s latest action thriller drama Animal is re-writing box office records with even its domestic collections inching closer to the coveted Rs 500 cr club, which only Shah Rukh Khan and Sunny Deol have cracked so far in Bollywood.

The ten-day total of the film now stands at Rs 432.37 cr. Animal’s worldwide gross is Rs 717.46 crore. All eyes are no on whether the Ranbir Kapoor film will manage to enter Rs 1000 crore club before it has to make way for Shah Rukh Khan’s Dunki and Prabhas’ Salaar at the box office.

The film, despite coming under fire for its misogyny and excessive violence, is trending at an excellent pace at the box office and will now target to break the record of Gadar 2, which was Rs 525 cr. The film now has a free 10-day run, before Shah Rukh’s third film of the year, Dunki arrives. A day later, on December 22, Prabhas’ actioner Salaar will hit cinemas.

Before the screens are considerably reduced due to the big Christmas releases, Animal will hope to make as much money as possible and eventually target the records of Pathaan (Rs 543 all India) and Jawan (Rs 640 cr all India).





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Most people rust out due to lack of challenge. Few people rust out due to overuse. - Denis Waitley





This American kid said to his teacher, “I ain’t got no pencil.”

She corrected him at once: “It’s ‘I don’t have a pencil.’ ‘You don’t have a pencil.’ ‘We don’t have any pencils.’ ‘They don’t have any pencils.’ Is that clear?”

“No,” said the bewildered child. “What happened to all them pencils?”


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