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Female genital mutilation violative of bodily integrity, privacy, SC told

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Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Dawoodi Bohra community is violative of bodily integrity which is a part of right to privacy and dignity.

Referring to the reports of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) calling for prohibiting the practice of FGM, Attorney General K.K.Venugopal on Tuesday told the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that the practice was violative of bodily integrity which is part of right to privacy.

Asserting that FGM was not a part of essential religious practice of Dawoodi Bohra community, thus not protected by Article 25 and Article 26 of the constitution, Attorney General Venugopal told the court that the practice of FGM causes bodily harm which sometimes are permanent and come in the way of bearing children.

Seeking to put a stop on the practice, the Attorney General referred to the way Sati, Devadasi and Thuggery were outlawed.

When the Attorney General said that “it is irreversible”, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi quipped saying “as irreversible as male circumcision”.

“Male circumcision is held to be good,” countered the AG, telling the bench that “42 countries have outlawed it (FGM) in all its form”.

Singhvi appeared for Dawoodi Bohra Women for Religious Freedom (DBWRF).

Contending that ‘we are not a backward country where all these practices can survive and perpetuate in the name of a essential religious practice’, Venugopal said: “We have a working positive constitution,” and merely because it is an old practice, it can’t continue.

The court is hearing a PIL by Sunita Tiwari seeking declaration that the practice of female genital mutilation prevalent amongst Dawoodi Bohra community is illegal and against the constitution.

Contending that FGM adversely affects sexual functions of the women, senior counsel Shyan Divan said it has both short term and long term medical implications on the girl child and later as she grows into woman.

Asserting that the practice of FGM is violative of fundamental rights, Divan told the bench it violates right to bodily autonomy, bodily integrity, dignity, special rights of girl and women and the right to health and well-being.

Divan had appeared for two Dawoodi Bohra community women Dilshaad Tavawalla and Shaheeda Kirtane.

As Singhvi sought to defend FGM as an old practice which is customary in the Dawoodi Bohra community, Justice Chadrachud said: “It is performed by a non-medical person, it is not performed by a medical doctor in hospital, it is touched not by mother or doctor and it touches the genital that causes pain, blood and trauma” and “child put under such a procedure will resist”.

Singhvi said that the FGM is done by the people who are doing it for generations, they are trained and follow standard operating procedures.

“It is done with the consent of the mother and by a highly qualified mid-wife,” Singhvi said, offering that in future, in each and every case, it will be done by qualified gynaecologist and doctors.

“When the mother is present, she will be more concerned about the child,” Singhvi said asserting that the practice was protected by Article 25 and Article 26 of the constitution as being essential to community’s customs.

“No doctor will perform such a procedure in the hospital. What is the scientific justification for a doctor to undertake such a procedure”, asked Justice Chadrachud.

Singhvi will continue his arguments on August 9.

India

India walks out of UN General Assembly as Imran begins attack

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Imran Khan at UNGA

United Nations, Sep 25 : The Indian delegate at the UN General Assembly Session on Friday walked out when Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan began his diatribe in his speech.

First Secretary Mijito Vinito, who was at the second seat on the first row of the Assembly chamber, got up and left as Khan began his attack on India by focusing on the RSS before bringing up Kashmir.

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India

CPM cadres protest farm bills across Andhra Pradesh

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CPIM Worker Protest Farm

Amaravati, Sep 25 : Thousand of Communist Party of India Marxist (CPM) workers in Andhra Pradesh are protesting the new farm bills which the Parliament cleared recently, accusing them of being anti-farmer and in favour of business corporations.

“The farm bills will cause great injustice to farmers. Though many political parties opposed their passage, the government still passed them forcibly,” senior AP Communist Party leader Gorla Ramakrishna told IANS.

He said that earlier when people used to hoard agriculture products to manipulate market prices, the government used to raid such hoarders to bring order and protect the farmers.

However, he said these farm bills will create massive asymmetry, pitting ordinary farmers against corporate giants armed with the wherewithal, cold storage, transportation facilities and others to literally rule the market.

The Left leader said that a farmer always strives to sell his produce and repay the debts he has incurred while cultivating the crops.

“A farmer does not have infrastructure to even store his produce for even 10 days. He will be in a hurry to repay his debts. With these new bills, all the powers will now go into the hands of middlemen and corporates,” said Ramakrishna.

He said the corporates can easily move massive amounts of farm produce from state to state to cash in on market uncertainties.

“A real farmer will not benefit with these bills. Not only a farmer, even a buyer will suffer as the middlemen and corporates will create artificial shortage of farm produce to make a killing,” the CPM leader observed.

Importantly, Ramakrishna alleged that middlemen and other market forces who used to stealthily hoard farm produce until now which do it legitimately with these bills allowing them.

“Before the introduction of these bills, hoarders used to illegally store farm produce with fear which will now get legitimised. Now all the people with financial muscle will do it deliberately. Ordinary farmers and buyers will be the losers,” he lamented.

The senior leader said CPM started resisting these bills right from the time they were proposed.

Farm bills aside, Ramakrishna has also expressed his displeasure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his policies which according to him are benefiting the rich corporates and cronies.

“Especially during the Coronavirus time, we have seen how a person rose up in the billionaire rankings. What does it show? See how the fuel prices have increased. It is our anguish that this government is not caring for the farmers and the common man,” he said.

He disapproved of the farm bills, saying that corporate companies, foreign entities and others will take advantage of the privileges they accord them.

He said the country will have to contend with corporate farming in the future when small farmers will be forced to give up their profession for large corporates to emerge and carry out corporate farming.

“Nowadays labourers are increasing. There is no truth in the claims made by some people that labourers are not available. What will happen to the farmer who gives up agriculture? He is becoming a labourer,” he said.

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Javed Akhtar takes a dig at news channels for ignoring farmers’ protests: ‘If Karan Johar had invited some farmers to his party…’

Javed Akhtar took a dig at news channels and sarcastically remarked that if Karan Johar had invited farmers to his party, they would not have to choose between covering Bollywood and the farmers’ protests.

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Javed-Akhtar

Javed Akhtar took a dig at news channels prioritising Bollywood’s alleged drug links over the farmers’ protests in their coverage. The lyricist sarcastically remarked that if Karan Johar had invited farmers to his party, ‘life would have been easier’ for the channels, as they would not have to choose between Bollywood and the farmers’ protests.

“If Karan johar had invited some farmers too for his party life would have been easier for our TV channels.They would not have had to choose between farmers protest and Karan’s party!. it seems that Karan’s do is the second most favourite PARTY of our channels,” he wrote.

On Friday, more than 200 farmers’ groups across the country blocked roads and organised rallies in protest against three controversial farm bills passed in the monsoon session of the Parliament. The farmers worry that the new laws could potentially dismantle the current Minimum Support Price (MSP) system and leave them vulnerable to exploitation by agribusinesses.

Meanwhile, a video taken at one of Karan’s house parties last year has been under fresh scrutiny amid an investigation into Bollywood’s alleged drug links. Politician Manjinder Singh Sirsa renewed his claims that it was a ‘drug party’ and filed a complaint with the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) earlier this month.

The video featured a number of prominent Bollywood personalities, including Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Vicky Kaushal, Arjun Kapoor, Malaika Arora, Shahid Kapoor, and filmmakers Zoya Akhtar and Ayan Mukerji. However, none of them were seen consuming drugs in the clip.

The NCB found evidence of a potential drug racket in Bollywood, while investigating the drugs angle in Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. His girlfriend, Rhea Chakraborty, was arrested earlier this month on charges of procuring drugs. She has been remanded to judicial custody till October 6.

Names of several Bollywood celebrities have come up in the investigation. The NCB has issued summons to Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Rakul Preet Singh and Shraddha Kapoor. Reports suggest that 39 more Bollywood celebrities are under the scanner.

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