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September 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         September 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:August' 2018


Judicial independence sacrosanct

Jagdish N Singh

Supreme Court of India Judicial independence is part of India’s Constitution’s inalienable basic structure . No Government can afford to do away with this. The Modi government did well last month to clear the elevation of then Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice Justice K M Joseph to the Supreme Court.
Knowledgeable sources say the Centre had no option but yield in once the collegium reiterated its original recommendation. It should have okayed Justice Joseph’s case seven months earlier, when the five-member Supreme Court collegium recommended it first .Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wrote to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on April 30 this year and asked the collegium to reconsider Justice Joseph’s name. Prasad argued that his parent High Court — the Kerala High Court — had adequate representation in the higher judiciary.
The Minister wrote ,“The proposed appointment of K.M. Joseph as a judge of the Supreme Court at this stage does not appear to be appropriate… It would also not be fair and justified to other more senior, suitable and deserving Chief Justices and senior judges of various High Courts.”
The Centre’s approach in the matter of Joseph’s appointment has done considerable damage to the image of the Modi Government . The impression has gained ground that the Centre was being biased against Justice Joseph as he was on a Bench that quashed the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand in 2016.
The Government must now evolve some rational procedure in the matter of high judicial appointments .It must not selectively be approving some proposals from the collegium and holding back or returning others. This tends to alter also the inter se seniority among sitting judges. This affects in determining who would first join the collegium and become India’s Chief Justice. The Centre can seek reconsideration of any name. But in that case, it must explicitly state its rationale .
The reiteration of a collegium recommendation must be made binding. The Centre has not been consistent on this count. Recently, it returned a recommendation concerning two appointments to the Allahabad High Court for the second time. Also, the Centre must not be sitting on files without taking a decision one way or another, particularly given the backlog of cases in the Supreme Court.

Adultery law archaic

Dipak Misra Ours is an age of science and reason .A product of this age ,our Constitution guarantees all citizens the right to equality irrespective of their gender. But what about our penal code in the case of adultery ? It treats different persons differently in cases of adultery . According to Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, a man can be punished up to five years in jail if he has sexual intercourse with another man’s wife. But a man will not be committing any offence if he does so with the “consent or connivance” of the husband of the woman concerned.
This is strange. How can a crime in one case not be so in another ? The other day a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, rightly observed, “When a woman is treated as chattel(a personal possession of the conniving husband) , her right to dignity is affected.” Chief Justice Misra observed that jail term in the adultery case does not appeal to common sense . He said, “If a third party attacks or molests the wife of another, it amounts to rape. Rape is an offence. But if a relationship is carried with the consent of the woman, how does it amount to an offence? If there is consent [between two adults], why punish the wife’s lover?”
An argument in favour of the retention of the existing adultery law goes that as it ensures the sanctity of the marriage and is for public good. To this the CJI rightly said, “Protecting marriage is the responsibility of the couple involved. If one of them fails, there is a civil remedy available to the other. Where is the question of public good in a broken marriage.”

Playing to the galler y

Mamata Banerjee Strange are the ways of our politicians . Today Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is a fierce critic of the Assam’s citizens’ list and the Centre’s plans for a crackdown against illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. She has predicted a civil war and bloodbath if the Centre stays the course.
As an Opposition lawmaker at the Centre the same Banerjee stated in the Lok Sabha on August 4, 2005: “The infiltration in Bengal has become a disaster now... I have both the Bangladeshi & the Indian voters list. This is a very serious matter. " She had moved a motion discuss this matter. When it was turned down by then Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, she accused him of bias and hurled a sheaf of papers at Chatterjee's deputy Charanjit Singh Atwal, who was the presiding officer. Is Banerjee playing to the gallery and eying a certain vote bank in Bengal today ?

Factionalism in British politics

Boris Johnson All is not well in the politics of the United Kingdom today. One report goes that the Labour Party is facing criticism over its treatment of anti-Semitism within its ranks. The Conservative Party’s Oxford-educated former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson recently described the burka as “oppressive and ridiculous.” He compared women who wore them to “letter boxes”. Johnson’s comments on burka have provoked anger from both Muslim and non-Muslim members of the Conservative Party. Conservative Member of Parliament Dominic Grieve has even suggested he would leave the party should the former become its leader.
The report says that there was a meeting in Parliament attended by Tapan Ghosh, the leader of the Hindu Samhati, last year. The Muslim Council of Britain has viewed it as a “wider problem” of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party as the room had been booked through the office of a Conservative MP.

Hunger in Yemen

Ours in age of democracy. Does our diplomacy care for democracy ? Hardly. In the tussle between the (US-backed) military intervention led by Saudi Arabia and the Iran- backed Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen ordinary people alone are suffering .
According to a report, the tussle has destroyed public infrastructure, killed thousands of civilians, displaced hundreds of thousands more and blocked food and aid supplies to major cities . Yemen’s 28 million people are practically abandoned today .
In recent years, the country had an unprecedented cholera outbreak . It killed over 2,000 people. The health-care system has collapsed in Yemen. Millions of people have been cut off from regular access to clean water. More than eight million people are threatened by acute hunger.

All eyes on Khan

Imran Khan Pakistan is now under the political command of its new Prime Minster Imran Khan. All eyes are on him at home and abroad . In his parliamentary election victory speech last month, he vowed to make a ‘Naya (new) Pakistan,’ not to live in “a lavish house ( the official Prime Minister House)” and make the country his “leader Quaidi - A z a m Muhammad Ali Jinnah had dreamed of.” I hope Khan will keep his promise . In his first Presidential Address (August 11, 1947) to the C o n s t i t u e n t Assembly of Pakistan, Jinnah commanded the government must “maintain law and order” end “bribery and corruption,” and “concentrate on the well-being of the people, especially of the masses and the poor.”

Nawaz Sharif Jinnah had declared, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed ... there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another… we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State.”
Pakistan has so far been far off such ideals of Jinnah . Its rulers in general have been too corrupt to care for their masses. The rich have gone richer and the poor poorer in the country.
The plight of Pakistan’s minorities - Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Baha’i, B u d d h i s t s , Zoroastrians ( P a r s i s ) , Ahmadiyas, Shi’ites and Mohajirs – has gone from bad to worse. The country has become a den of radical Islamist terrorists out to destroy peace and harmony at home and abroad.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee Observers say Khan can do little on the social front. He has been a supporter of Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Khan can do little also in improving ties between New Delhi and Islamabad. Pakistan’s security and foreign policy happens to be the exclusive domain of its military command or what is known as Pakistan’s deep state, the Army and the Inter- Services Intelligence. Khan will have to follow its dictates.
Khan’s approach to India can be discerned in his victory speech itself. Herein he focused on resolving the Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN resolutions. New Delhi considers the UN resolutions are irrelevant after the Shimla Accord.

Narendra Modi Khan must be aware of what the deep state did to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after the latter moved closer to India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the nineties. Khan must be aware also of what all the military command did to Sharif again in the recent years after the latter started 'hobnobbing' with India's current Prime Minister Narendra Modi and calling for the Pakistani extremists involved in the Mumbai terror attack of 2008 to be brought to justice by the Pakistani courts.
The observers add Khan is highly unlikely to question the deep state on any front. He owes his electoral victory to it. But for its covert manipulation, the mighty Nawaz Sharif might not have been marginalized in the recent election. Besides, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party does not have an absolute majority in Parliament. It will be dependent upon independents and smaller parties. And these parties will listen only to the military command.