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October 14, 2017

Public health key concern in banning crackers in Delhi: SC

  • The Supreme Court on Friday refused to modify its October 9 order suspending the sale of firecrackers in Delhi NCR till November 1, 2017.
  • The court said that its concern primarily was the health of the masses.
  • “Diwali has been celebrated for hundreds of years. Delhi is no exception to the rest of India. There are children who wait for Diwali celebrations,” senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the traders, submitted.
  • Interestingly, the October 9 order only suspended the sale and did not impose any restriction on the bursting of crackers.Mr. Rohatgi even suggested to the court to designate the time and days for bursting crackers.

From Cyclone Phailin to GDRF

  • The devastating Phailin cyclone that hit Odisha’s coastal Ganjam district on Oct 12, 2013, resulted in the founding of the Ganjam District Disaster Forum (GDRF), a partnership between 12 local social organisations to support administrative efforts and community preparedness during natural calamities. Now, 47 organisations are a part of the GDRF, and its reach extends to almost all villages of the district that are prone to natural calamities. The GDRF’s core committee meets every three months, especially in August and October, when cyclones and floods occur more often.

SC does a rethink on dowry harassment ruling

  • Two months after the Supreme Court stopped immediate arrests of accused in dowry harassment cases, the court on Friday did a re-think, saying its order dilutes the right of a woman to seek justice against the evil of dowry.
  • On July 27, a Bench of Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit had concluded that Section 498A (dowry harassment) of the Indian Penal Code has come under much abuse. Dowry complaints are being filed in the heat of the moment by women over trivial issues. Innocent relatives, including parents of advanced age, siblings and grandparents, suffer harassment. Their judgment directed ‘Family Welfare Committees’ to sift the genuine cases of dowry harassment from the trivial ones. Police would take action only on the basis of the committee’s report.
  • These committees were directed to be made up of social workers, homemakers, retired persons and other citizens.
  • In an absolute U-turn, a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said the July 27 verdict blunted the purpose of Section 498A as an effective law to protect human rights of married woman who live in torture.
  • “The judgment (July 27) seems to have entered the legislative domain… We are not in agreement with the view taken as it is liable to affect the rights of woman,” Chief Justice Misra observed.
  • The apex court had also ordered that trial judges should close Section 498A cases based on matrimonial disputes once the parties have reached a settlement. In fact, bail should be given on the same day, it said.

Sabarimala entry row goes to Statute Bench

  • The Constitution Bench will decide whether Ayyappa devotees form a separate religious denomination by themselves.
  • Most importantly the larger Bench will decide if a temple managed by a statutory board can ‘indulge’ in the practice of banning women from entry on moral grounds.
  • The Constitution Bench will decide whether Rule 3 (b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 allows a ‘religious denomination’ to ban entry of women between the age of 10 to 50 years. If so, does this amount to discrimination and violation of the fundamental rights to equality and gender justice.
  • Finally, the Constitution Bench has been asked to decide whether Rule 3(b) is ultra vires the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act, 1965 and violative of the fundamental rights.
  • The Sabarimala temple restricts women aged between 10 and 50 from taking the pilgrimage to Sabarimala – which means women are banned from even making the arduous trek to the shrine.
  • The restriction finds its source in the legend that the Sabarimala temple deity – Swami Ayyappa – is a ‘Naishtika Brahmachari’ – and should not be disturbed. A 1991 Kerala High Court judgment supports the restriction imposed on women devotees. It had found that the restriction was in place since time immemorial and not discriminatory to the Constitution.
  • Met with objections from the Pandala royal family and several Ayyappa groups that the deity was not “interested” in women devotees of the restricted age bracket visiting him, Justice Misra had reacted that such arguments merely based on conjecture without any constitutional basis cannot be entertained in the Supreme Court. “Deity’s interest is a hypothesis which we do not want to comment on now. It is not within our domain. God is everywhere, in every atom,” Justice Misra had once remarked.



India to speak up at Bahamas meeting

  • India will strongly articulate the need to strengthen counter terrorism measures and prevent radicalisation of youth through information and communication technology (ICT) at the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting that begins on Monday in the islands of the Bahamas.

Set up expert panel on Blue Whale game, SC tells govt

  • The Supreme Court on Friday directed the government to constitute an expert committee to suggest ways to “control the alleged menace” of the “suicidal” Blue Whale game, which is claimed to be the reason behind several deaths across the country.
  • The order came on a petition filed by Supreme Court advocate Sneha Kalita asking the court to frame guidelines for regulating and monitoring the virtual digital online games and to take immediate measures to ban/block sites linked to the Blue Whale online game or any other forms of violent and immoral games.

Airports need up to $45 bn investment by 2030: CAPA

  • As most Indian airports head towards saturation in passenger-handling capacity, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said India needs up to $45 billion investment in 55 airports to boost capacity by 2030.
  • “India will need to construct an additional 500 to 600 million of capacity by 2030. This will require $36-45 billion of investment, including $12 to 15 billion of equity capital,” CAPA said in a report.
  • CAPA said Indian airlines would induct close to 350 to 400 aircraft over the next five years and that they had already been facing challenges securing overnight parking bays.
  • Currently, India’s airports have a capacity to handle 317 million passengers a year.