Caught On the Wrong Foot

Above: Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visiting a Kanha Upvan in Lucknow (file picture)/Photo: UNI Though ban on illegal slaughterhouses was introduced with great fanfare by the UP government, it has backfired, leading to a burgeoning number of bovines who raid crops and attack people  ~By Govind Pant Raju in Lucknow Recently, the BJP government of Yogi Adityanath held a function in Lucknow to celebrate its first anniversary. The party had fulfilled its poll manifesto and acted on one of its promises—banning illegal slaughterhouses. Due to the non-fulfilment of National Green Tribunal guidelines and negligence in licence renewal, most of the slaughterhouses were closed. With the exception of a few privately held modern abattoirs, most did not make the cut. They had been operating without licences and had no adequate provision for waste disposal nor did they follow minimum hygiene standards. As the ban materialised, meat traders and slaughterhouses went to the High Court over the issue of licensing. The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court went on to say that no government could dictate the eating habits of people as these were dependent on the individual. On May 12, 2017, the Court ordered that it was the duty of the government to ensure streamlined functioning of slaughterhouses.…
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Dalit Protests: Why Blame the Judiciary?

Dalit protests on Delhi-Agra highway. Photo: UNI Amid widespread agitation against the Supreme Court’s decision to allegedly dilute the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and a deafening political backlash, the Modi government has been forced to seek a review of the verdict ~By Puneet Nicholas Yadav O n April 4, a minor Dalit girl stormed into the office of the superintendent of police of Satna district in Madhya Pradesh. The girl was carrying a six-month-old foetus in a plastic bag. The girl claimed that seven months earlier, she had been abducted and raped repeatedly—over a span of two months—by one Neeraj Pandey and two of his accomplices and become pregnant. After being let off by her captors, the girl had reportedly made unsuccessful attempts to file a police complaint of abduction and rape against Pandey under various sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the Indian Penal Code. His family had then promised to get her married to him if she agreed not to file a case against him. Then, on April 3, as the girl was going to see a doctor along with her mother, Pandey and his accomplices allegedly abducted her again and took her to the residence of a local doctor—Sapna Pandey—where she was forced to abort her six-month-old foetus and given death threats.…
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Battle For The Benches

The large number of unfilled vacancies in the courts is a symptom of a widespread systematic malaise in which the Executive and the Judiciary must share equal blame as the crisis escalates ~By Inderjit Badhwar and Sujit Bhar The graceless sparring between the Executive and the Judiciary over the appointment and elevation of judges, particularly in the upper echelons of the courts, exploded into new low-blows last week when a conveniently leaked letter from Justice Jasti Chelameswar (dated March 21) to the chief justice and 22 other Supreme Court brother judges hit the headlines. The judge, due to retire in a few months, is the second-most in seniority to Chief Justice Dipak Misra. Many observers called this Part 2 of the “mutiny” within the Supreme Court, which broke out on January 12 as a press conference was held at Justice Chelameswar’s house. Joined by Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph—who form the Supreme Court collegium that appoints judges—the foursome levelled a direct frontal assault on the chief justice of India (CJI) for allegedly assigning case rosters in an ad hoc fashion. The subliminal message was that the CJI was indirectly catering to the wishes of the Executive and assigning cases to judges who may be more favourably inclined to the views taken by the ruling political party on national issues under litigation, among them Aadhaar and the right to privacy, the upcoming Ayodhya case and the controversial death of CBI special judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya.…
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Caste in Wrong Mould

Above: Former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi Ajit Jogi’s feud with opponents on his caste status has given a boost to many who have found an easy way to corner the benefits of reservation by filing fake papers ~By Neeraj Mishra in Raipur Many hundreds have died agitating for reservation in jobs and education but in Chhattisgarh, the smarter ones have found a simpler solution. Just make a fake certificate, get a job and enjoy. Chances are, it will last forever. If someone complains then contest it with all your might in the courts and maybe a final decision or termination order will never come through. Former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi’s run-in with his political opponents over his tribal status and his various court battles have shown a beacon to others who may be similarly accused. The General Administration Department (GAD) revealed in the assembly during the just-concluded Budget session that as many as 539 officers in the state are under scrutiny for submitting false caste certificates. The officers include patwaris, sub-divisional magistrates, constables and DSPs. Most of the accused appear to have acquired tribal certificates from Jashpur region and Bastar. The most abused tribes and castes appear to be Uraon, Halba, Tharva, Gond (tribes), and Prajapati, Suryavanshi, Satnami and Mahar (castes).…
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Aadhaar Bridge: The Aadhaar Conundrum

The Bigger Picture Reacting to the entire issue, Sean S Costigan (pictured facing page), New York-based strategist and technologist in diverse security and technology fields including cybersecurity (he has led research teams as professor at Harvard and MIT), told India Legal: “Unfortunately, the State (and by that I mean most all modern national systems of governance) has not shown itself to be a particularly good steward of secret and sensitive information.” “This, despite the state’s mandate to keep people secure and the abundance of procedures and systems designed to grapple with the data it generates and is reliant upon. The reasons for these are varied, but always boil down to uncertainty, change, and failure to anticipate. Other nations are happy to plunder data, including PII, from government databases, as we saw here in the United States with the OPM and Equifax breaches.” [In June 2015 data of four million people was stolen from the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The final estimate of theft was approximately 21.5 million, including records of people who had undergone background checks, though not necessarily government employees. Data stolen included Social Security numbers, names, dates and places of birth, and addresses. The point to note is that the attacker posed as an employee of KeyPoint Government Solutions, a subcontracting company.…
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Allahabad HC’s Justice Shukla digs in his heels, ball now in President Kovind’s court

Above: President Ram Nath Kovind with Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra; (inset) Justice SN Shukla of the Allahabad High Court/Photo courtesy: PIB and Allahabad High Court ~ By Atul Chandra With the Chief Justice of India, Justice Dipak Misra, writing to the President of India recommending the sacking of Allahabad High Court’s Justice SN Shukla, all eyes are now on Ram Nath Kovind and the “delinquent” judge. After being found guilty of misconduct in the private medical colleges admission scam by an in-house three judge inquiry committee, Justice Shukla was given the option of either resigning or seeking retirement. So far his sense of propriety has not advised him to do either. The in-house inquiry committee gave adverse remarks against Justice Shukla for alleged judicial impropriety in the GCRG Institute of Medical Sciences case. This was different from the criminal case of Prasad Education Trust in which the CJI had denied the CBI permission to include Justice Shukla’s name in the FIR and in which Justice IM Quddusi, former judge of the Orissa High Court and three others were arrested. The CBI is reportedly interested in making a fresh effort to seek CJI’s permission to lodge an FIR against the judge who was involved in both the cases regarding the MCI’s order banning admissions.…
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A Home to Call My Own

Above: Women rescued from immoral trafficking working at a craft centre in Maharashtra/Photo: www.rescuefoundation.net Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, which awaits a nod from Parliament, will for the first time address the issue of victim rehabilitation and doesn’t criminalise them ~By Venkatasubramanian It is unusual for would-be beneficiaries of a piece of legislation to come together and urge its early passage by MPs. When 30 survivors of human trafficking from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh came together in Delhi recently for such a purpose, the media took due note of it. That they protested despite the legislation being approved by the Union cabinet only recently shows their concern about likely delays caused by procedural requirements in Parliament. It is axiomatic that the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, will find all-party support in Parliament to ensure its early passage. The new Bill, according to reports, will be the first to address the issue of victim rehabilitation. Unlike the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA), 1956, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, and Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code, the new Bill takes a holistic view and aims to prevent trafficking for forced labour, beggary and organ transplant, among many others.…
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CJI Dipak Misra: Judge with a Difference

The main judgments Chief Justice Dipak Misra has shouldered a heavy load, presiding over a host of sensitive and challenging cases Passive Euthanasia and Living Will judgment Judges handling the 42-year trauma of nurse Aruna Shanbaug always stopped short of allowing a medical termination and she stayed that way till she died of a cardiac arrest. While authoring the judgment, Justice Misra came up with a quote from Greek philosopher Epicurus, saying: “Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not.” While that reflected his conscience, his admitting that the court had been puzzled by the conundrum in “whether the Hippocratic oath should prevent us from entering the dark tunnel of death with dignity,” was self-scrutiny that has been rare of late. Justice Misra could, of course, fall back on the 241st report of the Law Commission, which had said that passive euthanasia should be allowed with safeguards. However, a judgment is the final step in allowing into society a possibility that could change the way we live and, in this case, the way we die. While many countries across the world have legalised passive euthanasia with safeguards, the delicate religious and social sentiments of a civilisation as old as India needed special understanding and handling.…
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Governance: Empty Seats

Illustration: Anthony Lawrence From the Lokpal to the green tribunal, the Supreme Court and High Courts, institutes of higher learning and even investigating agencies, the vacancies are piling up ~By Puneet Nicholas Yadav On April 5, 2011, activist Anna Hazare began the first of three indefinite fasts in Delhi demanding that the UPA II regime must get his version of the Lokpal Bill (called the Jan Lokpal Bill) passed by Parliament. Now, more than seven years later, the self-styled Gandhian from Ralegan Siddhi village in Maharashtra is threatening another stir. This will be launched in Delhi on March 23 with pretty much the same demand—set up a Lokpal. Anna’s threat coincides with the centre informing the Supreme Court earlier this month that it is in the process of appointing the anti-corruption watchdog but that it will first need to find an “eminent jurist” who can join the Lokpal selection committee. The committee, according to the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013, must comprise the prime minister, the chief justice of India, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha and an eminent jurist. The political landscape of the country has changed drastically since Anna’s first agitation and so has his own stature.…
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Supreme Court Tussle: Bench versus Bench

Recent disagreements between various benches of the apex court may be a sign of discipline and propriety not being followed. Much is at stake in the hearing of a Constitution Bench next week to resolve such issues ~By Venkatasubramanian Next week, the Supreme Court’s five-judge Constitution Bench, already hearing the challenges to biometric identification of people through Aadhaar, is expected to give primacy to the hearing of another case, which emerged out of the blue. It is rare for two benches of the Supreme Court to make separate requests simultaneously to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) in his administrative capacity as the Master of the Roster. The request was to constitute a larger bench to resolve an apparent conflict between the rulings of two three-judge benches. Of the two benches which made the request on February 22, one was presided by Justice Arun Mishra (sitting with Justice Amitava Roy, who has since retired), and the other was by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (sitting with Justice Uday Umesh Lalit).  Both the benches were aggrieved with the decision and observations of a three-judge bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Deepak Gupta the previous day in a land acquisition case.…
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India’s Banking System: The Anatomy of a Bank Scam

Satish K Nagpal, chief vigilance officer, PNB, receiving the Vigilance Excellence Award from Vice President Venkaiah Naidu in Delhi last year A senior vigilance officer with the SBI explains how Nirav Modi’s fraud on Punjab National Bank would have unfolded ~By Sujit Bhar The entire Nirav Modi affair may seem right out of an Arabian Nights tale. How-ever, according to a former vigilance chief of India’s largest public sector bank, State Bank of India, it is impossible to keep such large chunks of transaction out of the core banking system’s knowledge without being red flagged, unless a whole line of people starting from Punjab National Bank manager Gokulnath Shetty to people near the very top have had been complicit in the crime. In the long run, as both sides— banker and client—ignored acceptable norms of risk appetite, Nirav Modi and the banker suddenly found themselves riding a tiger. There remains a theoretical possibility that the jeweller may still be able to square his commitments to the bank and get his business and credibility right back on its feet. As this ex-vigilance officer pointed out: “Considering the huge profile Nirav Modi used to enjoy around the world, it is inconceivable that he went out with the express and only purpose of scamming a bank.…
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India’s Banking System: How Deep is the Rot?

The scam was enabled by an international system called SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) which was set up in 1973 with its headquarters in Belgium. This platform is used by 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries and territories to facilitate swift transfer of funds. This, in turn, enables easy business transactions. Compared to 2.4 million SWIFT messages per day globally in 1995, the number has shot up to 17 million per day. Due to the sheer volumes of the messages, it is imperative that banks which use SWIFT have a strong regulatory mechanism. PNB obviously did not have any. As a result, deputy manager Gokulnath Shetty was able to send messages using his SWIFT code but bypassing the official system. Retired deputy manager of Punjab National Bank Gokulnath Shetty “When funds are transferred on the basis of a SWIFT message, there should be a counter entry in the Nostro account to reflect the foreign currency transfer. In all fairness, due to the huge volume of SWIFT messages, there is a gap in the reconciliation of accounts which should be done at the end of the day. The shortage of staff is the prime reason for this,” confides a deputy general manager of the Bank of Baroda.…
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