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House votes rules to authorise impeachment process against Trump

The House Intelligence Committee will hold the first set of hearings under its chair, Adam Schiff, and produce a report for the Judiciary Committee, which will have the final say in drawing up the charges against Trump in what is known as Articles of Impeachment.

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New York, Oct 31 : A politically fractured House of Representatives voted rules on Thursday to authorise and open up impeachment hearings against US President Donald Trump, meeting a demand by him and the Republicans.

The resolution, which also set up the framework for the impeachment, sailed through the House where the Democrats have a majority. The move was proposed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The votes, mostly along party lines, were 232 for the resolution and 196 against. Only two Democrats joined the Republican in voting against it.

Although the Republicans had demanded open hearings and their increased participation, they opposed the resolution because it did not meet all their demands.

As the House took up the resolution, Trump tweeted, “The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market. The Do Nothing Democrats don’t care!”

The House Intelligence Committee will hold the first set of hearings under its chair, Adam Schiff, and produce a report for the Judiciary Committee, which will have the final say in drawing up the charges against Trump in what is known as Articles of Impeachment.

After the full House votes to approve it with a simple majority, the Senate will hold a formal trial presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on the charges.

Two-thirds of the 100 Senators will have to vote to convict the President and remove him from office. As of now it seems unlikely that there will be that many Senate votes for impeachment, making the process nothing more than a political catharsis.

Nominally, the proposed procedures give the Republicans some rights in the conduct of the proceedings to assuage their complaints about being sidelined.

The Republican Party leaders, David Nunes on the Intelligence Committee and Dough Collins on the Judiciary Committee, will have the right to call witnesses, but the chairs can object and call for a committee vote, where the Democrats hold the majority.

CNN quoted Republican Representative Greg Walden as complaining, “It is still not set up as a fair process” because “the Democrats call all the shots.”

Jim McGovern, the chair of the Rules Committee which finalised the draft resolution that set out the procedures, dismissed the Republican concerns, saying, according to CNN, “Their sole mission is to circle the wagons around Donald Trump. They’re not interested in the truth.”

Trump’s lawyers will be allowed to participate in the Judiciary Committee’s proceedings by submitting evidence and cross-examining witnesses.

But if Trump prevents witnesses from appearing before it or refuses requests for documents, Trump’s lawyers will not be allowed to continue examining witnesses.

Only the chair and the Republican leader -– and/or their lawyers –- on the panel will first question witnesses for 45 minutes each and other members can examine them for a limited time.

Pelosi had resisted having the full House vote on impeachment or have the proceedings in the open, but finally gave in.

The vote undercuts Trump’s excuse to not allow witnesses or to provide documents to the inquiry because he said the House had not approved it.

It also shuts down complaints about the secrecy, which gave the Democrats an upper hand through selective leaks.

It was not clear when the open hearings will begin.

A key figure in the White House Drama, John Bolton, who was fired by Trump as the National Security Adviser and whose name has figured in some of the testimonies, has been asked to appear before the inquiry next week.

If the open hearings end up delaying the final impeachment vote till the end of this year or beyond, they could create problems for the Democratic Party’s process of selecting its candidate to run against Trump.

The primaries and caucuses that determine the support for candidates at the state level leading up to the convention start in early February. If the impeachment trial in the Senate overlaps this period, it could be a distraction and also interfere with the campaigns of candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, who are Senators.

Meanwhile, another important issue, the continued funding of the government, looms next month while the House will be grappling with impeachment.

The funding ends on November 21 and if Congress does not pass the legislation authorising the spending or it Trump doesn’t sign it, government operations will shut down, except for the most essential ones.

A 35-day shutdown occurred between December last year and January when Trump refused to approve the budget without allocation for his border wall and most federal workers were temporarily laid off and services were curtailed. As Pelosi stood firm, Trump compromised.

Currently, the government is being run on a temporary measure under what is known as a continuing resolution by Congress to provide interim funding.

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer warned that Trump may create another shutdown to divert attention from the impeachment.

“I am increasingly worried that President Trump may want to shut down the government again because of impeachment, an impeachment inquiry. He always wants to create diversions,” he said.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

Politics

‘J-K Assembly creature of its Constitution and not Constitution of India’

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jammu and kashmir assembly

New Delhi, Jan 21 : The Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly is a creature of the Constitution of the erstwhile state, and not the Constitution of India, submitted senior journalist Prem Shankar Jha’s counsel, challenging the scrapping of Article 370, before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Senior advocate Dinesh Dwivedi, representing Jha, told a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana, that: “Legislative Assembly is one which is a creature of the Constitution of J&K and not the Constitution of India where Governor cannot be a substitute.”

He insisted that Constituent Assembly was independent of the Constitution.

“The Legislative Assembly cannot be a substitute or the successor of even the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir,” Dwivedi.

To bolster his argument, he said that the Legislative Assembly is the creature of the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, which was a plenary sovereign authority unlike the Legislative Assembly.

He also added that J&K Constituent Assembly was dissolved in 1957 after the formulation of the J&K Constitution, and as a consequence, Article 370 was apparently frozen.

Dwivedi also argued that the presidential orders issued on August 5-6 are per se illegal in as much as the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir being outside the Constitution of India. “And Article 370, it can only be repealed, ceased or suspended in the manner prescribed by the supervising law of J&K only and not otherwise. What cannot be done directly, cannot be done indirectly also,” he argued.

He insisted that these presidential orders, as they intend to apply all provisions of the Constitution of India are null and void, since they have the effect of repealing the Constitution of J&K and replacing it with “Constitution of India by an executive order”.

He emphasised that Constitutions are real codes of governance for an undefined period, and they can only be modified or amended in exercise of the self-confined amendatory powers.

Dwivedi said that Article 370 was apparently a tunnel connecting the two Constitutions, and insisted that its sole object was to ensure that people of the region have a say in their governance through their own Constitution. The senior advocate argued that Parliament could exercise few powers on the erstwhile state – alter its boundary and change the name, but cannot convert it into a Union Territory.

He also urged the court to refer the matter to a larger bench against the backdrop of two conflicting decisions – 1959 and 1970 – by a five-judge bench of the apex court on the subject. While the former recognized the temporary nature of Article 370, the latter recognises its permanence by giving the source of power to the Union, and also allows it to regulate the governing relationship between the Centre and state.

The arguments on the matter will continue on Wednesday.

(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at [email protected])

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CAA spurs global Kashmiri Pandits to stand up for rights

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Shaheen Bagh-

New Delhi, Jan 20 : The anti-CAA protests have inspired Kashmiri Hindus, who are victims of Islamic extremism, to demand their rights on their homeland in the Kashmir valley. For the first time in 30 years, members of the global Kashmiri Hindu community, known as Kashmiri Pandits, rose as one on January 19, to remind the world of the atrocities they have suffered.

Sunday saw Kashmiri Pandits, and their sympathisers, gather in large numbers at several places in different countries, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their ‘Exodus Day’. It was on this day in 1990 that Kashmiri Hindus, better known as Kashmiri Pandits, fled the valley overnight to escape the threats from Islamic extremists.

The Kashmiri Pandit Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora (GKPD), along with its alliance partner associations, organized seminars, rallies, symposiums, and prayers in India, USA, UK, Germany, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

In US, Indian Americans for Kashmir (IAKF) and GKPD joined hands to organise an event to recognize the resilience and noble spirit of the survivors of genocide. Self-confessed India-lover and founder of Voice for India, Renee Lynn, expressed happiness over the passing of Citizenship Amendment Act by the Modi government.

Noted film actor Anupam Kher also spoke to the gathering and provided a detailed account of the horror that Kashmiri pandit community had to face because of their faith.

In Australia collective prayers were held to commemorate the genocide and ethnic cleansing. Events were organised at Brisbane, Perth and Sydney by KAshmiri Pandit organisations such as the Kashmiri Pandits Australia (KPA) and KPCSWA.

In New Zealand, a seminar was organised by the local Kashmiri Pandit to commemorate 30 years of exile along with discussions on the way forward. Political analysts Major Gaurav Vaidya and Pushpendra Kulshreshta participated in the proceedings via Skype.

In Canada a symposium was held in Toronto on ‘Global terrorism and its impact on social, cultural and economic wellbeing of minorities’ focusing on the return of indigenous Kashmiris to the land of their ancestors and restoration of their political rights. The event was organized by Indo Canadian Kashmir Forum (ICKF) and the speaker panelists were Rajiv Malhotra, Tahir Aslam Gora, Tom Quiggin, Vidhya Bushan Dhar.

In India, at Jagati, the largest refugee camp, Jammu Helpline Humanity, in collaboration with GKPD, organized a symposium and painting competition the topic of which was ‘Ethnic cleansing and the way forward’. A protest demonstration was organized in front of Raj Bhawan by all state Kashmir Pandit conference.

In Delhi a silent sit-in was organized jointly by Jammu Kashmir Vichaar Manch (JKVM), Roots in Kashmir (RIK), Panun Kashmir (PK) and Kashmiri Samiti Delhi (KSD).

In Mumbai, Kashmiri Pandits Association, Mumbai organized a seminar ‘No more exodus’ where eminent speakers such as Padamshree recipient, Dr. Kashi Nath Pandita, and Dr Rattan Sharda, a columnist and author, addressed a strong community gathering in Mumbai.

In Jaipur, the Kashmiri Pandit Association of Jaipur organized a candle march.

Coming in the backdrop of the anti-CAA protests which call for protection of minorities, the resolve of the Hindu minority in Kashmir is to raise their voice echoed strongly on their ‘Exodus Day’.

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India

Modi and Shah drag on democracy, lying on CAA: Kapil Sibal

The Congress leader said that the Constitution doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religion but Modi and Shah wanted to do it which is why we are opposing it.

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Kapil Sibal Speech

New Delhi, Jan 21 : Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah of lying to the nation over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and said that they are a ‘drag on democracy’.

Sibal’s comment came after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday lowered India’s economic growth rate forecast for the current fiscal to 4.8 per cent.

Taking to Twitter, Sibal said, “IMF lowers India’s GDP for 2019 to 4.8%. Calls it a drag on the world economy… Protests of people , young and old , across India (who can’t be recognised by the clothes they wear)… Reflect that the duo Modiji and Amit Shah are a drag on Indian Democracy.”

The Congress leader said that the Constitution doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religion but Modi and Shah wanted to do it which is why we are opposing it.

He also accused the UP government of giving citizenship to people who don’t have papers.

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