OPINION: High Court of Kerala walks the talk and recognises the rights of transgenders

“You need to be the change, you aspire to be”. Today the Honourable High Court of Kerala walks the talk and has recognised the rights of transgenders. “I am a Woman” says the man and world wonders. The Kerala High Court, today, did not remain wonder struck when the issue of legality of the multiplicity in the gender of human came up for consideration. For the first time in the history of India a Constitutional Court has recognised the concept of “transgender”, while deciding habeas corpus petition of a transgender who claimed like “Logo” from “Othello” as “I am not what I am”. The Division Bench of the Kerala High Court comprising of Justice V. Chitambaresh and Justice K. P. Jyothindranath today revolted against all conventions to recognise the liberty and dignity of a transperson according to his/her own wishes. The Judgment may the beacon light for the numerous who are still struggling to get the recognition of our Society. It seems the time is ripe for all of us start the change within, in our attitude towards transgenders and transpersons and the Mollywood is also coming up with Jayasurya starrer “Njan Marykutty” directed by Ranjith Sankar. Read the judgment below: Transgender-watermark…
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‘Opinion’ or ‘advice’ in S. 2(f) of RTI Act refers to such information as is available in public records

Central Information Commission: An appeal from the response of CPIO, Ministry of Human Resource and Development, was dismissed by Bimal Julka, Information Commissioner. The appellant, in his RTI application, sought information on eight points regarding the guidelines issued by the Government in regards to education fees levied by private schools, re-admission to private schools, etc. However, no response was provided by the CPIO. Dissatisfied by the same, the appellant filed the instant appeal. The respondents claimed that a response had been provided to the appellant in each point mentioned in his application. They also submitted a receipt of written submission. A copy of reply was also presented. The Commission perused Sections 2(f) and 2(j) of the RTI Act 2005 and also referred to the Supreme Court decision in CBSE v. Aditya Bandopadhyay, (2011) 8 SCC 497, wherein it was held that the reference to ‘opinion’ or ‘advice’ in the definition of ‘information’ in Section 2(f) only refers to such material as is available in the records of public authority. Further, under the Act, an applicant is entitled to get a copy of opinion, advice, circular, etc. but he cannot ask as to why such material had been passed. Since the appellant was not present to contest the submissions of the respondents, the Commission accepted the submissions made by the respondents and dismissed the appeal.…
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OPINION: Mistake Undone – Error Committed – Segregation of Collegium’s Recommendation by Union

“Has the judiciary developed an alternative constitutional morality to emancipate it from the theory of checks and balances, robust enough to keep it in control from abusing such independence?” So asked Justice Chalameswar in his dissenting Judgment in the famous NJAC Act case decided on 16.10.2015 . The other 4 Judges of the Bench,  the majority which struck off the NJAC Act and the 99th Constitution Amendment as unconstitutional  being violative  of  the Basic Structure of the Constitution Of India , included Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Madan B. Lokur who are also the members of the current  collegium   . The question which the dissenting Judge Chalameswar asked himself as well as the Constitutional Court , did not sink in  even after a span of two years and lingered over the intelligence of the executive,  resulting in the executive raising many more questions concerning appointments of the judges to the Constitutional Courts.  The Supreme Court , after the Justice H.R Khanna episode, during the tenure of a Government which eclipsed all Constitutional rights including the democracy by virtue of Emergency,  had to formulate a mechanism by which the Independence of judiciary would not be done away with, resulting in the various Judges appointment cases.…
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OPINION: Impeachment Dilemma Pushes the Supreme Court through its Vaishamya Khand

“What is left of the Dharma of kings ? ..This ancient eternal Dharma is lost among the Kauravas .. .. for this Foul man, disgrace of the Kauravas, is molesting me and I cannot bear it …” Draupadi pleads  as Duhshasana tries to disrobe her in the assembly. She further  poses a legal question before the Assembly and to the Dharmaraja “ Whom did you lost first, yourselves or me? “The patriarchal Bhishma tries to answer this question by saying the wife is the property of the husband and may be that question does not arise at all for considering the legality of the locus of the Slave husband to pawn the wife. Nevertheless,  his scholarliness does not permit him to answer the question but calls for  deliberation and he himself says he is in a dilemma and hence can’t answer the issue raised by Draupadi based on the cosmic rights . Today , the “Lady Justice” married to the rule of law  is mooting similar question in the nations Darbar , i.e all the  Constitutional institutions ,  the combination of which constitutes a Darbar of the ancient times  . No doubt,  she is being molested. And  being molested by those who are supposed to protect her by being the sentinel on the qui vive.…
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OPINION: First hearing of a suit – Need to amend the Code of Civil Procedure

The Code of Civil Procedure (‘CPC’) is a fairly detailed statute. It does a remarkable job of laying down the procedure to be adopted by civil courts; which has, broadly speaking, augured well for our legal system. However, over the years, many glaring mistakes in the Code’s drafting have also come to the fore. Many of these anomalies have been pointed out by the judiciary, which is entrusted with the task of interpreting some flawed provisions. In this piece, I will endeavour to highlight that the manner in which the phrase “first hearing of a suit” (“first hearing”) has been employed in CPC, is one such anomaly. The phrase “first hearing of a suit” acquires immense importance, by virtue of the fact that it has been employed in three key provisions; i.e., Order X, Rule 1, Order XIV, Rule 1 and Order XV, Rule 1. Order X, Rule 1 deals with preliminary examination of parties, and is invoked to record oral statements of parties, which are in the nature of supplementary pleadings. Order 14, Rule 1 deals with framing of issues. Order 15, Rule 1 deals with disposal of a suit, when parties are not at variance. A bare perusal of the aforementioned provisions reveals that all of these provisions get kicked in at the “first hearing of a suit.”  Thus, it becomes important to ascertain the point, in the course of a civil trial, which would qualify as the “first hearing.” Ideally, this would not have posed a problem, had the phrase had been clearly defined in the CPC.…
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Unfurling a Controversy

Above: The national flag has been a rallying point for patriots and activists as seen in the India Against Corruption protests at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi. Photo: Anil Shakya The national flag reigns supreme and no state government should question that. The Karnataka government’s recent move to even consider an alternative to the Tricolour was most unfortunate   ~By K Sreedhar Rao The history of the freedom movement is a saga of painful sacrifice by millions of Indians. At the time of the advent of the British, India was a conglomerate of monarchical states. However, the British cunningly exploited the differences among them and established its oppressive colonial rule on what they felt was the sustainable part of Indian territory. But things changed with the birth of the Indian National Congress which heralded the beginning of the nationalist movement. The teeming millions, inspired by the clarion call given by stalwarts like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and Subhash Chandra Bose joined it. Mahatma Gandhi, apart from being saintly, was also a pragmatic strategist. In order to appeal and inspire the distinct linguistic populace of India, he formed state units of the Congress party on the basis of linguistic geographical territories.…
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Not a Burning Issue

Above: The tradition of burning Ravan’s effigy has been in practice in many parts of northern India for centuries. Photo: UNI The apex court recently dismissed a PIL which wanted a ban on the burning of Ravan effigies, saying that certain traditions are protected under the constitution   ~By Justice K Sreedhar Rao  Custom is also called tradition. It is recognised as an unwritten law if it has been practised from time immemorial by any section of society. It could be a religious or a social practice, unless such a custom becomes repugnant to law. We had the abominable custom of Sati in Hindu society. Thanks to the efforts of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, his campaign against the practice of Sati nudged the British to enact a law for abolishing it. There have been religious traditions in certain sections of society which demean a woman and children and discriminate against them in matters of succession to property, marriage, education and maintenance. The said wrinkles in the system are being slowly wiped out. Even if any objectionable practice is brought to the notice of the court, it unhesitatingly holds such customs to be bad in law. Article 25 of the constitution ensures freedom of conscience and right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion, subject to maintenance of public order, morality and health.…
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Indo-China Skirmish: Avoid Confrontation

Above: A file photo from 2013 showing Indian and Chinese soldiers meeting during a joint military exercise. Photo: UNI Seeing the military capability of our powerful neighbour, the government would do well to accept reality and avoid any military mishap as far as possible   ~By Wing Commander (Retd) Praful Bakshi   It is said that strong fences make for good neighbours, but that is also true for countries having common borders which are not clearly defined. Any cartographic errors on the maps of the border areas can easily translate into military confrontation or serious diplomatic tension as we are seeing in the case of India and China. The latest confrontation between the Chinese and Indian forces at the point called Doka La on the Indo-Tibetan-Bhutan tri-junction is being described by Indian authorities as the gravest threat in military terms in recent times. It is necessary to establish that the main border between India and China in the East runs along the established surveyed line called the McMahon Line which was drawn up in March 1914 during the Simla Conference. Over 90 percent of this runs along the watershed ridge of the Himalayas running East-West. South of the McMahon Line is considered India, while North of it is supposed to be China.…
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Is This the India of My Dreams?

Above: Junaid Khan’s mother (centre) wails the loss of her son. Photo: YouTube The killings of Muslims on one pretext or another continue with impunity because the government has not condemned it or taken action against the perpetrators. Has mobocracy taken hold of the country?   ~By Ramesh Menon Fifteen-year-old Junaid had bought new clothes and was travelling home with his two brothers Hasib, 21, and Shakir, 23, to celebrate Eid with his family. He was probably thinking of the celebrations to follow when he was brutally stabbed to death and thrown out of the Delhi-Mathura train as it stopped at a station. His brothers were brutally assaulted and had to be rushed to hospital in blood-soaked clothes. Hundreds of onlookers who saw the tragic drama play out in front of their eyes chose not to be witness to the crime. Had Junaid been from another religion, he would have lived to see another sunset. Thousands participate in the funeral procession of Zahid Rasool Bhat in Srinagar. Photo: UNI How is it humanly possible that in a crowded railway station packed with passengers, railway officials and vendors, not even one person was ready to appear as a witness for the police to file an FIR and start investigations?…
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Advertising: Brand Battles

Above: The Amul brand enjoys tremendous goodwill. It can therefore take on the competition through provocative advertising. Photo: UNI The case between Amul and Kwality Wall’s shows that winning in court is no substitute for winning hearts and Dr Verghese Kurien’s brand will win hands down   ~By Gopinath Menon   In a competitive world, it is not uncommon for players to engage in battles in a playing field, other than marketing. Nine out of ten times, it is the result of a trait called ego. The plaintiff will always be the one who has been a bad loser and will resort to innovative means to curb competing brands from growing their market share. This is not new at all. Companies have been battling competitors for ages for logical or trivial reasons. I remember in the late nineties, when I used to work on a world famous soft drink brand, how secretive the company used to be about each executive on the business and how many non-disclosure papers they had to sign before they started working. Although after working for some months when you take a deep breath and let the hysteria die down and think logically, you figure out that both brands are nothing but sugared water with different doses of fizz content.…
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Half a Defence Minister

Above:Arun Jaitley, the current finance, defence and corporate affairs minister. Photo: Rajeev Tyagi Can a politician who holds charge of this ministry and another one do justice to this crucial portfolio?   ~By Wing Commander Praful Bakshi (Retd) There have been a number of times during the last couple of decades that the portfolio of the Union defence minister has been under the prime minister himself or by someone already in charge of a major ministry. That is the present situation too with the finance minister holding additional charge of the defence ministry. This leaves the country with not just an overworked defence minister but, in literal terms, half a defence minister. The inability or reluctance to find a suitable person to hold the extremely sensitive position of defence minister is not only intriguing but also harmful for a country with both external and internal security challenges. Those challenges have become more serious in recent times with the Chinese on the northern and North-eastern front and Pakistan on the western and North-western sector getting more aggressive and raising the threat levels. Almost every day, we see heated discussions on the subject of India facing a two-front war in the electronic and print media.…
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Mandir-Masjid in Perfect Harmony

Sane voices from both communities have suggested solutions which could restore peace and harmony at the disputed site    ~By Firoz Bakht Ahmed   Even as a special CBI court on May 30 granted bail to BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti in connection with the Babri Masjid demolition case and refused to drop charges against them and three others, there have been calls from saner voices to settle this dispute. The Supreme Court had earlier this year said that the Ayodhya dispute must be settled amicably through “a cordial meeting” of all parties, with Chief Justice JS Khehar even offering his personal mediation. This was the right move to turn the mandir-masjid deadlock into a dialogue. For once, there is hope among both communities that a solution is within sight in the centuries-old impasse. There is no denying that Lord Ram and the Ramayan are central to India’s social history and civilisation. Notice that Ram comes in the word Ramzan and Ali in the word Diwali. A common meeting ground between both religious communities is the only way forward now. According to Dr Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmad, chairman, Inter Faith Harmony Foundation of India, Ayodhya is a holy city.…
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