The HINDU Notes – 13th March 2019 - VISION

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 13th March 2019


📰 Don’t help the Maduro regime: U.S.

Mike Pompeo urges India to stop importing oil from Venezuela

•Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale discussed the situation in Venezuela and Venezuelan oil purchases with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo during their meeting on Monday, Mr Pompeo told the press at a briefing in the afternoon.

•Asked if there was a discussion on India’s oil purchases Mr. Pompeo said, “Yeah, so we’re asking the same thing of India as we are of every country: Do not be the economic lifeline for the Maduro regime.”

•“ So we talked about — I certainly won’t characterise the conversations; they’re private conversations. But I’m very confident — in the same way that India has been incredibly supportive of our efforts on Iran, I’m confident that they, too, understand the real threat to the Venezuelan people. And so we had a good conversation around that.” India and seven other countries were given a six month exemption from U.S. sanctions on trade with Iran and allowed to purchase a limited quantity of Iranian oil without facing sanctions. Mr Gokhale’s discussions in Washington are expected to cover the renewal of the sanction exemption.

Twitter warning

•Regarding Venezuela, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton had warned India and other countries on Twitter last month against purchasing oil from Venezuela in response to Venezuelan Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo making a trip to India to pitch for more oil sales. “Nations and firms that support Maduro’s theft of Venezuelan resources will not be forgotten,” Mr Bolton had tweeted above a link to a report on Mr. Quevedo’s visit to India.

📰 To serve the governed: on Official Secrets Act

The Official Secrets Act has no place in a democracy, as the Goswami Commission had suggested in the late 1970s

•The constitutional freedom to use and publicise information is directly affected by the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1923, which as with most of British India enactments followed the Official Secrets Act, 1920, passed by the British Parliament. It was strict enough then but after Independence in ‘free India’ we amended it and made it stricter in 1967, widening the scope of Section 5 (“Wrongful communication. etc., of information”) and enlarging the scope of Section 8 (“Duty of giving information as to commission of offences”).

Often misused

•Whenever I think about the Official Secrets Act, 1923, I recall a scene from the son et lumière (sound and light show) at the Red Fort enacted almost every evening where 100 years of Indian history is brilliantly encapsulated in a one-hour show: in it the Emperor Aurangzeb (who reigned for 60 years) asks his courtiers, “What is this noise, that is troubling us from outside?” And the courtiers reply: “Your Majesty, it is music.” And Aurangzeb’s majestic response is: “Then bury it deep into the bowels of the earth.”

•I always thought — un-majestically, but seriously — that this should have been the fate of the Official Secrets Act, 1923, which has been so frequently misused, that it ought to have been repealed when India got independence. In fact when the Janata government which came to power at the end of the Internal Emergency, and set up what was then known (and is now forgotten) as the Second Press Commission, it was chaired by a great and good judge, Justice Goswami of the Supreme Court of India, whose common sense approach to all subjects greatly attracted me to him.

•L.K. Advani, then Minister for Information and Broadcasting, requested me to be a member of the Commission, and I agreed. The Commission proceeded in great earnestness for months, and ultimately, when its report was ready in December 1979, a report that implored the government of the day to immediately repeal the Official Secrets Act, 1923, it never saw the light of day. Indira Gandhi, who came back to power in January 1980, wrote to the members a polite letter of thanks for our deliberations and promptly dissolved and disbanded the Justice Goswami Commission. It was replaced by the now officially known Second Press Commission presided over by Justice K.K. Mathew. The Goswami Commission and all its deliberations had been obliterated by a stroke of the pen. If Mrs. Gandhi had returned to power a few months later and our report had been accepted by the previous government, concerns in the context of The Hindu’s exposé on the Rafale deal would probably not have arisen over what the Attorney General of India ought to have said or done or ought not to have said or done. The Official Second Press Commission (the Mathew Commission) did not recommend the repeal of the Official Secrets Act of 1923.

The press as champion

•Since I still regard the press (and no longer the electronic media) as the champion of Article 19(1)(a) freedoms, I would like to say that the press must serve the governed, not those who govern. In his famous Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln described good governance as “of the people, by the people and for the people”. Centuries later we do understand the “of”, and are willing to tolerate the “by” but unfortunately we keep forgetting the “for”. If government is indeed for the people, it has a solemn obligation to keep the people well informed.

•Fortunately, the modern trend in today’s world is towards less secrecy and more information. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations way back in 1966, specifically includes the right to freedom of expression, defined as “the freedom to seek, receive and impart the information and ideas of all kinds”.





•The Janata government signed and ratified this Covenant in 1979, but none of the later Governments has lived up to its ideals. We have enacted Article 19(1)(a) in our 1950 Constitution with extremely limited restrictions — in Article 19(2) — but again only paid lip service to freedom of speech and expression.

📰 ‘10% quota a step towards casteless society’

It is meant to help a large section that is below the poverty line, Centre tells SC

•The 10% quota law is a step towards a classless and casteless society, the Union government has indicated in the Supreme Court.

•The Centre referred to the court’s past decisions that called for the “attainment of economic equality as the final and only solution to the besetting problems” of the country. The Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, 2019, was meant “to benefit the economically weaker sections of society who were not covered by the existing schemes of reservation...”

•It said the law was meant to benefit a “large section of the population of 135 crore people,” who are mostly lower middle class and below the poverty line. The government quoted the 2010 report of the Commission for Economically Backward Classes, chaired by Major General S.R. Sinho (retired), which said 18.2% of the general category came under the below poverty line (BPL).

•In fact, the 13-page affidavit quoted from a 1985 Constitution Bench judgment in K.C. Vasanth Kumar vs Karnataka, which quotes Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi to drive home the point that the economy of a family, and not its caste, should be the determining factor of social and educational backwardness.

•The government argued that the new law was inspired by “quantifiable data” collected by “several committees” that underscored the need for the economically weaker sections to enjoy the benefits of reservation in order to access higher education and employment. It said unaided educational institutions should also comply with the state’s wish to provide greater numbers access to higher education.

•The government was responding to petitions that the Amendment to create 10% reservation for the poor in the unreserved category violated the basic structure of the Constitution and breached the 50% ceiling.

•It argued that a “mere amendment” to an Article would not violate the basic structure of the Constitution. “Article 15(6) and Article 16(6) are enabling provisions for advancement of the economically weaker sections and are, in fact, in conformity with the principle of reservation and affirmative action,” it reasoned. Furthermore, the 50% ceiling applied to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. The new provision dealt with the economically weaker sections. “The limit of 50% is only applicable to reservation under Articles 15(4), 15(5) and 16(4) and does not apply to Article 15(6).”

📰 No names removed based on draft NRC: Election Commission

Supreme Court wants list of names included in Assam poll rolls from 2017

•The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday assured the Supreme Court that names have not been deleted from the Assam electoral roll on the basis of their exclusion from the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), which was published in July last year.

•However, a Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was not satisfied.

•“But a question looms large in the light of the preparation of the final NRC, to be published on July 31, 2019. What would happen to those who do not appear there but are included in the electoral roll?” Chief Justice Gogoi asked the poll body.

•The court further directed the ECI to furnish details of the names included in the electoral roll on January 1, 2017, 2018 and 2019 in Assam.

Seeks affidavit

•The Bench quizzed the ECI secretary, who was present in court, on electors in each constituency in Assam, addition and deletion. The court wanted an affidavit by March 28.

Secretary summoned

•The Supreme Court had earlier asked the ECI Secretary to appear before it on March 12 in connection with this PIL petition, filed by Assam-based residents Gopal Seth and Susanta Sen, alleging that several categories of persons were deprived of voting rights ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

•They claimed that one category included persons whose names figured in the draft NRC but not in the voter list. In another category, persons whose names were deleted from the voter list appeared in the draft NRC published on July 30, 2018. The petition claimed these people had voted in the last Lok Sabha election in 2014.

•The plea also submitted that there were people whose names were not included in the complete draft NRC, but they subsequently filed claims for inclusion. They had voted in the earlier Lok Sabha election and were waiting for inclusion of their names.

Order stayed

•The third category of people were those declared foreigners by the foreigners’ tribunal as well as by the Guwahati High Court; the court order was stayed by the Supreme Court.

•The petition said the fourth category comprised those already declared foreigners by the tribunal; this was set aside by the Supreme Court. However, their names had been deleted from the voters list pursuant to the order of the tribunal.

•In the fifth category were those whose names had not been included in the draft NRC, but their family members were included; these had filed a claim for the inclusion of their names.

📰 D-day for Azhar’s UNSC listing: all eyes on China

It will be a major break from the past if the permanent member of the Security Council doesn’t place a ‘hold’

•If China decides not to place a hold on the listing of Masood Azhar at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, and the Jaish e Mohammad (JeM) chief is listed as a terrorist sanctioned by the “1267 Al Qaeda Committee”, it would be a major break from the past two decades.

•Since 2001, when the JeM was first listed as an entity, to 2008 in the wake of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, to 2016, after the Pathankot airbase attack, the UNSC has failed to put Azhar on its list, mainly due to opposition from China.

•“China has in the past said it doesn’t have enough information to list Masood Azhar, despite the fact that on each occasion we have provided more information of his links to terror attacks,” said Gautam Bambawale, a former Ambassador to China who led the most recent efforts to convince Asia’s only permanent member on the Security Council to withdraw its objections to listing Azhar. “I think we must keep trying as we have, and this time around I think we are very close to having Masood Azhar on the list,” Mr. Bambawale toldThe Hindu in an interview.

•Significantly, when the JeM was first listed on October 17, 2001, its listing actually named Masood Azhar as its founder, but didn’t include Azhar as a “designated individual”. According to the listing, “Azhar formed [JeM] with support from Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and several other extremist organisations”, and the organisation was listed after it claimed responsibility for the attack on the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly building.





•However, despite being named, Azhar escaped being targeted for sanctions, which under the UNSC 1267 rules means he would not be allowed to travel, access weapons or funding.

War footing

•After the Mumbai attacks of November 26, 2008, India decided to take up the issue on a war footing, and the effort met with remarkably similar responses as the more recent attempts have.

•In March 2009, India decided to request the designation of Azhar, along with two Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operatives Abdur Rahman Makki and Azam Cheema, but on April 28 China put a hold on the listings, requesting “additional information”. This was in contrast to China’s support for the designation of Hafiz Saeed, Zaki Ur Rahman Lakhvi and other LeT leaders Arif Qasmani and Yahya Mujahid just a few months earlier.

•After the Pathankot airbase attack in January 2016, India revived its move to list Azhar, with the same result: China first placed a technical hold, citing “inadequate information” and followed it with a veto in December. In 2017 and 2018, France led the effort supported by the U.S. and U.K. to try and list Azhar, with no shift in China’s position. If China doesn’t raise an objection by the deadline on March 13, it will be a marked departure from the past. If, however, it does raise a technical hold on the listing, it would only be following an old and well-worn script.

📰 U.K. yet to act on our requests for attachment of assets: ED

Refutes media report alleging inaction in Nirav Modi case

•The United Kingdom is yet to take action on the requests for provisional attachment of assets belonging to the Punjab National Bank fraud accused Nirav Modi and sharing relevant documents pertaining to the case, the Enforcement Directorate said on Tuesday.

•As part of the ongoing money laundering investigations, the Directorate had sent a request under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) to the U.K. Authorities on March 17, 2018, for collection of relevant documents and other details.

•A supplementary MLAT request was sent on October 3 last year for the execution of an order for provisional attachment of Mr. Modi’s assets located there.

•“In response to these MLAT requests, the U.K. authorities had raised queries from time to time, which were promptly examined and detailed replies were sent by the Enforcement Directorate. These MLAT requests are yet to be executed by the U.K. authorities,” said the agency.

•Refuting a media report alleging inaction by the enforcement agencies in pursuing the Nirav Modi case with the U.K. authorities, the Directorate said the report was contrary to the facts.

‘Facts distorted’

•“The report also appears to be bereft of knowledge of law and procedure. The facts have been distorted with speculative writing and wrong conclusions have been drawn,” it said.

•The ED said the U.K. government’s consistent stand regarding a non-bailable warrant was that it could be executed only through an extradition request and not via any Letter Rogatory (judicial request) sent under the MLAT.

Extradition request

•Extradition request can only be sent after the charge sheet is filed, the court takes cognisance of it and an open-ended non-bailable warrant is issued.

•“Accordingly, upon initiation of investigations by the Enforcement Directorate on February 14, 2018, against Nirav Modi and others, the first non-bailable warrant issued on March 5, 2018, was not acted upon by the U.K. government,” the ED said.

•The ED filed the first charge sheet in May last year and then an open-ended warrant was issued in June.

•The Interpol published a Red Notice against Nirav Modi on June 29, 2018, following which a request for his extradition was sent to the U.K. on July 31, 2018.

📰 We cannot kill jobs in cracker industry: SC

‘Court should not snuff out livelihood’

•The Supreme Court cannot kill the jobs of thousands of poor people working in the firecracker industry, driving them to starvation, Justice S.A. Bobde observed on Tuesday. He added that if the court could not generate jobs, its orders should not extinguish livelihoods.

•“We cannot give money or jobs or support people who will lose their jobs if we shut down firecrackers manufacturing units... We do not want to generate unemployment,” Justice Bobde said.

•The Bench, led by Justice Bobde, was hearing the case for the first time as the matter was previously heard by another Bench headed by Justice A.K. Sikri, who retired recently. Justice Bobde is in line to be the next Chief Justice of India.

•The court, which on October 23 banned the manufacture, sale and use of loud and toxic firecrackers while allowing only green and improved crackers, on Tuesday asked how it could possibly feel empowered to bring the shutters down on an occupation which was both legal and licensed.

•The ban was based on petitions filed by a six-month-old and a 14-month-old, through their fathers in 2015. The petitioners said the air pollution caused by various factors, especially firecrackers, had made Delhi a gas chamber and pleaded for their right to life.

•“People are gunning for firecrackers, but the bigger pollutant is vehicles,” Justice Bobde observed. “Had the normal pollution level been low, then we could have managed better,” he added.

📰 India successfully test-fires guided rocket system ‘Pinaka’

India test-fires guided rocket system ‘Pinaka’

•The Defence Research and Development Organisation successfully tested-fired the indigenously developed guided rocket system ‘Pinaka’ on Tuesday at Pokhran in Rajasthan, officials said. This was the third test conducted by the DRDO since Monday. “All the three trials were able to meet the mission objectives,” the Defence Ministry said.

📰 SC rejects miners’ plea on coal transportation

NGT had banned rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya

•The Supreme Court has rejected pleas by miners in Meghalaya to let trucks move coal in transit before a transportation ban came into effect.

•The deadline for transportation of extracted coal was being extended since April 2014 when the National Green Tribunal banned rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya.

•But after at least 16 miners were trapped in a flooded mine at Ksan in the East Jaintia Hills district on December 13, the apex court refused to allow the transportation of extracted and assessed coal beyond January 31. On January 15, the court further said there would be no transportation of coal lying at sites.

•The State Coordination Committee of Coal Miners and Dealers’ Forum had subsequently filed a petition for allowing their trucks that were in transit as on January 15 to transport their coal and also to pass through government check posts and weigh bridges to their respective destinations.

•The court also did not entertain the plea of another miner who wanted to transport coal he had procured legally from a dealer.

•The court is likely to hear on March 28 a petition by one Lber Laloo for lifting the ban on coal mining by the NGT.

•The Supreme Court hearing coincided with Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma informing the Assembly that over 1,000 cases of illegal coal mining have been registered since the NGT ban came into effect.

•Meanwhile, on Monday an overloaded coal truck overturned in the district, reportedly killing four people. According to district SP V. Singh, the driver lost control due to high speed. But, he said, the local police did not find any bodies.




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