Issue :   
August 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.          August 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:June' 2019


Condone no Court contemner

Jagdish N Singh

The Supreme Court of India Last month , our Supreme Court did well to issue a contempt notice to the authorities in West Bengal for keeping a young political activist behind bars despite its May 14 order to release her. The authorities had arrested and sent her to a two- week custody for allegedly posting on Facebook a morphed image of state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. In the post, Banerjee’s face was photoshopped onto actor Priyanka Chopra’s picture from an event in New York. There was no sense in a democratic country like ours to jail anyone for such an innocuous post.
I, wonder when our apex Court would take cognizance of the non- compliance of its orders in some serious cases involving some of our politicians and their parties. In its September 2018 judgment, the Court directed the candidates contesting elections to publish in newspapers about pending criminal cases against them . The Court directed our political parties to publish the criminal past of their candidates on their websites.

Recently, the apex Court also directed political parties to provide full information about their donors and the financial contributions made to them( parties) through electoral bonds in sealed cover to the Election Commission. Have these Court directives been complied with ? If not , why not contempt notices in these cases as well?

The Court must be strict on such important matters. The need for this is urgent today . The spirit of our Constitution demands we have people of integrity as our representatives in our Parliament and Assemblies. Our Election Commission has failed in screening right people to be elected . The Supreme Court had observed in 1977 the Chief Election Commissioner “must lawfully exercise his power independently, in all matters relating to the conduct of elections, and see that the election process is completed properly, in a free and fair manner.” But in vain.

Because of the Commission’s inefficacy, our Parliament has in the recent decades turned into a den of an increasing number of allegedly communal, casteist, and criminal elements. The Court must do the needful in the interest of our Republic and Constitution. It must rein in all defiant politicians. Condone no Court contemner, please.

Triple talaq an evil

The Narendra Modi government deserves applause for its sincerity in its efforts to abolish the evil of instant divorce ( triple talaq) still prevalent in our Muslim community. Last month, it reintroduced the much-needed Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 , in the Lok Sabha. This Bill was passed by the previous Lok Sabha but had remained pending in the Rajya Sabha. I hope both Houses would pass this legislation this time.
An evil like triple talaq can have no space in modern India . Our Constitution guarantees gender equality. It cannot be denied to women in our Muslim community. According to one estimate , there have been reports of over 543 cases of triple ‘talaq’ in the country. Even after the Supreme Court banned this practice, more than 200 cases of triple talaq have been reported.

There is, however, genuine concern over the criminality clause in the present Bill. It is said to stipulate a three-year jail term for Muslim men. A similar offence by non-Muslim men attracts only a year of jail term. The Government must rectify this lacuna . There must be similar punishment for similar crime.

Care for minority Hindus too !

Attacks on Sikhs and their
properties across India in 1984.
The Modi Government has done well to expand the ambit of the probe into the 1984 antiSikh riots cases by enabling the Special Investigation Team to reopen investigations in the cases in which trial had been completed and the accused discharged.
In 2014, the Government announced a three-member SIT for re-investigation of the anti-Sikh riot cases, mainly in Delhi. The SIT secured its first conviction in November 2018, when a Delhi court awarded death sentence to one of the accused and life imprisonment to another accused for killing two Sikh men in Mahipalpur. The case had been closed by Delhi Police in 1994 for lack of evidence.

In December 2018, the Supreme Court appointed another SIT headed by Justice (retd) S.N. Dhingra to further probe 186 cases pertaining to Sikh riots.

I wish the Modi Government could now reach out also to other victims of communal violence in the country. The successive governments in the country have so far overlooked taking action against those who killed the minority Hindus in Kashmir in the early nineties and in Punjab during the years of its militancy. According to reliable estimates, over 399 Kashmiri Pandits were killed and half a million displaced in Kashmir in the 1990s. During communal militancy in Punjab, some 20000 Hindus were killed .Ours is a secular Republic . All citizens, whatever their religions, are equal.

Era of summit diplomacy

Prime Minister Modi has started his second term with the same diplomatic focus . On the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka (June 28-29), he met world leaders , including American, Russian and Chinese Presidents Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Earlier, Modi met Xi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Bishkek. He will be meeting Putin and Xi again during his forthcoming visit to Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum in September.
Knowledgeable sources say ours is an era of summit diplomacy. All major powers appreciate they are interdependent . China- Japan bilateral trade stands at about $350 billion. Prime Minister Modi needs to remain active on the diplomatic front. India needs to have fine relations with major world powers and focus on its goal of attaining a $ 5 trillion economy.

Modi needs to pay special attention to the United States, India’s largest trading partner, today. Washington is proving a hard nut to crack. In May 2018 the Trump administration pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement. At that time, Washington granted New Delhi a waiver to continue its oil imports from Iran . That waiver is gone.

Washington now threatens New Delhi to withhold intelligence and security cooperation if India allows the Chinese telecom company, Huawei, to control its 5G networks. Washington threatens if New Delhi goes ahead with its Russian S-400 missile system deal , it may have to forget American high-tech and advanced aircraft deals.

The United States seeks more access to the Indian market and the removal of India’s trade barriers .But the U.S. itself continues to defend its high levels of agricultural subsidies to shield its own domestic market. The U.S. uses very high tariffs on tobacco (350%), peanut (164%) and some dairy products (118%).