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Karnataka crisis recalls landmark Bommai judgement from 25 years ago

According to legal experts, the Bommai judgement is only applicable in the imposition of President’s Rule in the state in the absence of a clear majority in the Assembly.

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Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar

New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) Recent events in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly hark back to its past over a quarter of a century ago as the state is again locked in a political crisis over legal and Constitutional interpretation.

The ruling coalition, the Speaker and the heads of political parties have reached the corridors of the Supreme Court urging it not to intervene in the business of the Assembly.

Though the Supreme Court has already passed an order saying the 15 rebel MLAs cannot be compelled to participate in the Assembly proceedings, the ruling coalition claims it is beyond the jurisdiction of the court, as its implementation whittles down its rights to issue whips as a political party under the Constitution.

Bommai Case

Then Karnataka Chief Minister S.R. Bommai faced a similar scenario in 1989. His government was dismissed and he then moved the Supreme Court leading to a landmark judgement, often referred as the Bommai judgement in 1994. He headed the Janata Dal – formed after the merger of the Janata Party and the Lok Dal in 1988. The coalition held a majority in the Karnataka Assembly.

In April 1988, only two days after a Cabinet expansion, one MLA K.R. Molakery, defected and submitted a letter, which had signatures of 18 MLAs claiming to have withdrawn support to the government, to Governor P. Venkatasubbaiah.

The Governor told the Centre that the Bommai government had lost its majority and could not constitutionally continue as a minority. Later, some MLAs returned to the fold.

Bommai met the Governor and expressed his ability to prove his majority on the floor of the House. Instead, the Governor suggested imposition of President’s Rule in the state, which was subsequently imposed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s government.

Bommai moved the Supreme Court, challenging the High Court order dismissing his petition. In a 5-4 judgement, the Supreme Court ruled in his favour stating that dismissal of his government was unconstitutional.

The apex court ruled that the majority of a government is subjected to the test-of-strength on the floor of the House, and the Governor has no role in such a political scenario.

The judgement accorded power to the Governor to direct a government to prove its majority in the Assembly in a stipulated time-frame. However, the judgement did not touch the power of the Speaker who continues to wield influence in running the Assembly.

Bommai case in current political scenario in Karnataka

The Governor had already set a deadline for the Chief Minister to conduct a confidence motion and the trust vote before 1:30 p.m. on July 19. The Congress and the JD(s) claim that the Governor is overreaching his powers by spelling-out directions to the Speaker, and also interfering in the business of the Legislative Assembly.

According to legal experts, the Bommai judgement is only applicable in the imposition of President’s Rule in the state in the absence of a clear majority in the Assembly.

“The Supreme Court order on July 17 did not stop any political party from issuing a whip, which is their Constitutional right. The court ruled that the 15 MLAs cannot be compelled to participate in the House proceedings. The Congress and JD(S) are free to issue whips, and if their MLAs don’t abide, then they can be disqualified. But it cannot stop the confidence motion and trust vote on the floor of the House,” said a prominent legal expert.

Another expert opined that citing the Bommai case is not relevant in the current situation, as the floor test is yet to take place. “After the floor test, if the ruling government is found in minority, then the Bommai judgement is applicable and the Governor can approach the Centre accordingly,” he said.

The apex court in its July 17 order, urged the Speaker to decide on the resignations of the MLAs. Therefore, the court has not infringed on the power of the Speaker, who continues to control the business in running the house. The Speaker’s decision cannot be arbitrary or biased, if it is indicative of bias, then the court has the power to subject it to judicial review.

The coalition party leaders in Karnataka today moved the top court that its order has extended protection to the rebel MLAs from the whip. The matter is yet to come up for regular hearing. The Congress has cited the Bommai case judgment, which restrains courts from passing an interim order, especially, if the matter is pending before the Speaker in the Karnataka Assembly.

Eventually, the Bommai judgment will test the top court after the Speaker takes a final decision on the resignation or disqualification of the rebel MLAs.

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

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India’s Q3 GDP expected to inch-up above 4.5%

India Ratings and Research gave a forecast of 4.7 per cent for Q3 GDP.

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slowdown in global economic growth

New Delhi, Feb 27 : India’s third quarter 2019-20 GDP growth rate is expected to inch up on the back of rising inflation, along with a modest uptick in the momentum of services and industry.

Several economists polled by IANS said that GDP growth rate is seen in the range of 4.6-4.8 per cent for the third quarter from 4.5 per cent reported for the second quarter of the current fiscal.

Various indicators like air passenger traffic, railways’ freight revenue and commercial vehicles’ sales have shown improvement in Q3FY20 against weak performance in Q2FY20.

The macro-economic data point of the national income and the GDP will be released on Friday.

“We expect the GDP Q3 number to be 4.8 per cent. Since no major improvement was observed among leading indicators, market expectations remain subdued,” said Karan Mehrishi, Lead Economist at Acuite Ratings and Research.

“Generally, Q3 is one of the strongest quarters in a financial year because the inclusion of festive seasons sales and kharif harvest-driven rural consumption, this time, however, nothing noteworthy is foreseen.”

Besides, he pointed out that capacity utilisation levels have also fallen.

“Fresh capex looks unlikely and investments will be moderate driven by the public sector. We are however mindful of the inflation trajectory moving forward,” Mehrishi said.

India Ratings and Research gave a forecast of 4.7 per cent for Q3 GDP.

Edelweiss Securities’ Economist Madhavi Arora said: “We expect a marginal shallow pick up in 3Q, amid still-sluggish corporate earnings and weak industrial sector.”

“While government spending has been a respite for the services sector, its’ contribution to growth will also decline marginally. We expect 3Q GDP to print around 4.6-4.7 per cent.”

Meanwhile, ICRA expects the GDP and the gross value added (GVA) growth at basic prices to rise mildly to 4.7 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively, in Q3FY20, from 4.5 per cent and 4.3 per cent, respectively, in Q2FY20.

“Some industrial and service sectors displayed a pickup in YoY volume growth in Q3FY20 relative to the previous quarter, while the output of kharif crops displayed a mixed trend,” its principal economist Aditi Nayar said.

“Lower raw material costs, high growth of the government’s non-interest revenue expenditure and the stable profitability metrics revealed by the earnings of some banks would provide a cushion to the pace of economic growth,” she said.

However, the extent and duration of coronavirus outbreak would test the sustainability of the nascent upturn in growth in the ongoing quarter.

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Cannabis use rises among the elderly, finds study

Women, and individuals who were married, had a college degree, or had higher income also significantly increased their cannabis use.

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Cannabis

New Delhi, Feb 26 : Cannabis use continues to increase in popularity among adults of 65 years of age and older in the United States, according to a new study.

Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the study from NYU Grossman School of Medicine estimates that cannabis use in adults aged 65 and older increased from 2.4 percent to 4.2 percent in the United States — a significant increase of 75 percent — between 2015 and 2018.

With the legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes in many states in the US, medical professionals are studying its use in treating a number of chronic health conditions. Since 1996, 31 states have legalized medical marijuana, while 11 states and Washington DC have legalized recreational use.

The survey categorized cannabis use by asking whether marijuana, hashish, pot, grass, or hash oil was either smoked or ingested.

Researchers observed trends in prevalence of past-year cannabis use, broken down by sociodemographic background, chronic disease, healthcare utilization, and other substance use among adults age 65 and older, in the United States, between 2015 and 2018.

Certain subsets of this population saw an even higher rise in prevalence. For example, researchers estimated that past-year use more than doubled by older adults with diabetes, among those who have received mental health treatment, and those reporting past-year alcohol use.

Women, and individuals who were married, had a college degree, or had higher income also significantly increased their cannabis use.

Researchers say they next plan to acquire more detailed information about how medical marijuana affects older populations, its risks and side effects.

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Ground Zero: A dangerous mix of politics and police inaction?

Eyewitness say when the pro and anti-CAA protesters clashed, the police remained a mute spectator.

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Maujpur anti CAA Violence

New Delhi, Feb 24 : After all, the sudden quiet at Shaheen Bagh, on the boil for over two months, was deeply deceptive, if you look at the way how the protest — for and against the new citizenship law — spilled out to north-east of Delhi, with the police yet again failing to read the situation.

Many locals say the violence at Maujpur-Jafrabad in north-east Delhi erupted soon after BJP leader Kapil Mishra took out a march on Sunday in support of the Controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as well as against the anti-CAA women protesters who had blocked the road at Jafrabad metro station.

The police stepped in when Kapil Mishra addressed the crowd, sources said. He was flanked by the Deputy Commissioner of Police clad in full riot gear. Some people cite a video clip that shows the BJP leader giving an “ultimatum” to the police, saying “he will come back after the visiting US President leaves India”.

“But the DCP did not act,” said a local resident.

Stone-pelting soon started on the crowd protesting against CAA at Jafrabad.

But how does Kapil Mishra get into the picture? The Karawal Nagar (another north-east Delhi locality) politician was in the AAm AAdmi Party and had switched to the BJP just days before the Delhi polls. He contested from Karawal Nagar, but lost.

A few days back, scores of Jafrabad residents had let it be known that on Saturday (February 22), they would start a march to Rajghat. They were responding to an appeal by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad who had called for ‘Bharat bandh’ on Sunday. On saturday, the women protesters were stopped midway, but soon they were at Jafrabad Metro station, blocking the road and the metro station.

Eyewitness say when the pro and anti-CAA protesters clashed, the police remained a mute spectator.

The situation turned uglier: On Monday the violence reached the lanes and by-lanes of some localities where passers-by were beaten up if they did not tell their names to aggressive groups of men.

Many pictures and videos of violence have gone viral where unidentified people have been seen brandishing guns as policemen look on. A head constable, Ratan Lal, lost his life on Monday after being hit by rioters.

The violence has spread to Chand Bagh, Khureji in east Delhi and Hauz Rani in south Delhi and fear stalks the roads. Yet no one knows how it all started and when and how it will end.

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