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Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi nominated to Rajya Sabha

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Ranjan Gogoi

New Delhi, March 16 : In a span of six years, two former Chief Justices have been accorded plum posts after retirement. Former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who retired in November 2019, is the latest after he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by President Ram Nath Kovind.

Former Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, who held the office for nine months from 2013 to 2014, after retirement was appointed the Governor of Kerala from September 2014 to September 2019.

The Home Ministry on Monday issued a notification announcing that President Ram Nath Kovind is nominating Gogoi to fill the vacancy originating due to retirement of one of the nominated members.

Gogoi headed the five-judge bench which delivered a landmark judgement in 70-year-old Ayodhya title dispute in November 2019. The apex court had ordered the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site by setting up a trust, while ordering five acres be given to Muslims in Ayodhya to construct a mosque.

The bench held that the “possessory claim of the Hindus to the composite whole of the disputed property stands on a better footing than the evidence from the Muslims,” while emphasising on tolerance and mutual co-existence, which played a crucial role to nourish the secular commitment of the country and its people.

Justice Ranjan Gogoi was sworn in as the 46th Chief Justice of India in October 2018. He was appointed for a 13-month stint, and he took over from Justice Dipak Mishra.

The bench also comprising CJI-designate Justice S.A. Bobde, and Justices S.A. Nazeer, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan also said: “The evidence indicates that despite the existence of a mosque at the site, Hindu worship at the place believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram was not restricted.”

A bench headed by Gogoi also ruled that Chief Justice Office falls under RTI but placed some riders. And, in another judgement, a bench headed by him in a majority judgement of 3:2 referred the Sabarimala temple judgement of 2018 to a larger bench. Justice Gogoi also pursued the Assam NRC, and tasked the authorities concerned to publish the final list before August 31, 2019.

In another politically sensitive judgment, a three-judge bench, headed by Gogoi, and comprising Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph, on 14 November dismissed a review petition challenging the Rafale deal case. A bench headed by Gogoi also censured Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for wrongfully attributing the “Chowkidar chor hai” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the top court.

On his last working day Gogoi had said the judicial system is facing new challenges, which emerge from within and outside of court complexes and judicial processes.

The Chief Justice, who demitted office on November 17, did not directly refer to the sexual harassment allegations against him by a court staffer, but instead said: “As an institution, we have tried to deliver much more than what is reasonably possible, yet, today each of us is required to deal with new challenges, which unfortunately arise from within and outside of our court complexes and our judicial processes.”

Election

Scrap the amendments to poll rules, DMK urges Election Commission

Stalin said the amendment also includes senior citizens, persons with disability, and persons employed in essential services as absentee voters.

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MK Stalin

Chennai, July 13 : The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Monday urged the Election Commission to recommend to the Centre to scrap the amendments made to The Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules, 2019 and The Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules, 2020.

In a letter to the poll panel, DMK President M.K. Stalin also urged it to hold a consultative process with all political parties and relevant stakeholders across the country to find the best solution that can ensure the safety of citizens without compromising their statutory right to cast their vote independently.

Terming the amendments an attempt to bring an ocean of voters under the purview of a newly carved-out class of “absentee voters”, he said: “This exercise is done by the ECI without studying the ramifications of the move. The move will certainly destroy free and fair elections in the world”s largest democracy.”

Prior to the amendment of the rules, there were three classes of voters – service vote, special voters and voter on election duty and the old rules specified the persons who are entitled to vote by postal ballot.

“These voters are a definite class of persons who are identifiable and are less in number. The classification is reasonable and there are strong, valid and underlying reasons for providing with postal ballot in favour of these classes of persons,” Stalin said.

However, he said that the new amendments introduces a bunch of divergent groups of persons all rolled in to one group called “absentee voters”, all of whom would be entitled for postal ballot voting.

“These persons by no stretch of imagination can be called as a ”class of persons” to satisfy the mandate of Section 60(c) of RP Act (Representation of Peoples Act),” Stalin told the EC.

He also said the class of persons who are absentee voters could have been defined when the amendments was made instead of reserving it for a later date.

“This shows that there is a hidden agenda, to add class of persons from time to time, depending on the election schedule, and there is a total lack of transparency as to who all can be part of this ”class of persons”. The Rule therefore gives enormous power to notify the class of persons entitled for postal ballot by the Election Commission at a later date. Such a sub-delegation is illegal as it suffers from the vice of excessive delegation of powers,” the DMK leader said.

Stalin said the amendment also includes senior citizens, persons with disability, and persons employed in essential services as absentee voters.

“Here again the group of persons mentioned in the definition of absentee voters has no rational nexus with each other. The mischief which the amendment would cause is that any group of persons could be named as absentee voters without any rationale or without being a class by themselves which is contrary to the reasonable classification recognised by law,” he said.

According to Stalin, the amendment does not define a person with disability for postal vote. The reduction of the age to qualify as senior citizen from 80 to 65 to be eligible for postal voting is illegal, he added.

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Election

Joe Biden wins Louisiana primary

The state is not likely to be competitive in 2020, with President Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton by about 20 points in 2016.

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Joe Biden

Washington, July 12 : Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has won the primary in the state of Louisiana, a media report said.

The former Vice President won with 82.2 per cent of the vote, leading Senator Bernie Sanders, who received 5.3 per cent, with 1 per cent of precincts reporting, The Hill news website quoted the New York Times as saying on Saturday.

The win on Saturday comes as he continues to march toward his formal nomination at the Democratic convention in August.

The Louisiana primaries were delayed twice from their original April 4 date, first to June 20 and finally to Saturday, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Louisiana will award 54 pledged delegates.

The state is not likely to be competitive in 2020, with President Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton by about 20 points in 2016.

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Election

Like 2018, Kamal Nath starts MP poll campaign from Ujjain

Asked about the “Tiger zinda hai” comment from Scindia and Chouhan, Kamal Nath said the public will soon hand its verdict on who is a tiger or a cat or a mouse, as it knows everything.

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Kamal Nath INC

Ujjain/Badnawar/Bhopal, July 8 : Blowing the traditional conch before the war cry and whispering “earnest wishes” for public welfare in the ears of Lord Shiva’s vehicle Nandi, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath tried to reach out to devout Hindus as he on Tuesday launched the campaign for the mini-midterm elections involving 24 assembly seats.

In Badnawar, Kamal Nath, who is also the state Congress chief, visited the Baijnath Temple before addressing the first Loktantra Bachao rally.

Barbs and counter-barbs between the Congress and the BJP have gone on for quite some time in Madhya Pradesh. By picking on Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the BJP’s recent acquisition Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamal Nath seems to have focussed on voter’s sympathy for a “wronged party.”

The BJP’s quick reaction through virtual rallies intensified the battle. Leader after leader from the BJP kept blaming the Congress of spreading lies and indulging in corruption.

About the BJP’s allegations of corruption, Kamal Nath said his party would welcome a thorough investigations into the 15-month rule of his government. “We have the public as our witness. The farmers will decide if our government was true to the promise or not.”

Asked about the “Tiger zinda hai” comment from Scindia and Chouhan, Kamal Nath said the public will soon hand its verdict on who is a tiger or a cat or a mouse, as it knows everything. He said people of Madhya Pradesh are straightforward and sensible. They know who the betrayer is and where the state is headed under the new government which earned the power under a deal and is still haggling with the wheelers and dealers.

There are striking similarities between his present campaign and the one he led in 2018 to bring the Congress back into power after 15 years. Kamal Nath had started the campaign with a pooja at Ujjain. The key difference of course is the absence of Scindia, who blindsided him and his departure with a big chunk of the party caused the current campaign. Scindia was the campaign convenor then.

Though Kamal Nath and former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh were the senior leaders in the party, Scindia was presented as the youth face to draw the electorate. Digvijaya Singh was asked to bring about a patch up between various factions. Kamal Nath was thus the key campaigner. He retains that status.

Kamal Nath who drew good crowds in 2018 under Chouhan’s rule has made a striking start with Ujjain Congress leaders responding in large numbers despite the lockdown curbs. The temple town responded with hundreds of billboards greeting him.

Kamal Nath also held a one-on-one discussion with prospective candidates to set the selection process rolling. The party plans to have 24 call centres, one in each constituency that will witness the by-elections. The party workers will receive voters’ feedback and inputs for the prospective candidates and the agenda will be set on local issues.

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