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Religious freedom: SC frames 7 questions, hearing from Feb 17

The court noted that major parties involved in this case will have to wrap up their arguments in a day, with two hours each for rejoinders.

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Religious freedom

New Delhi, Feb 10: The Supreme Court on Monday framed seven questions pertaining to the scope of religious freedom permitted in different religions, arguments on which will begin from February 17 before a nine-Judge Constitution Bench.

These questions pertain to a clash of faith and fundamental rights vis-a-vis entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple, entry of Muslim women into mosques and ‘dargahs’, female genital mutilation practised among the Dawoodi Bohra community, and entry of women married to non-Parsis into the fire temple.

A nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde held that its five-judge bench can refer questions of law to a larger bench, while exercising its limited power, under the review jurisdiction in the Sabarimala case.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice framed seven questions to be heard by the nine-judge bench that also comprises Justices R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L. Nageswara Rao, M.M. Shantanagoudar, S.A. Nazeer, R. Subhash Reddy, B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant.

The nine-judge bench will hear the issues referred by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi (since retired) on November 14, 2019.

The court proposes to hear the questions on a day-to-day basis from February 17.

The nine-judge bench observed that it will follow the hearing procedure streamlined during the Ayodhya title dispute case, wherein the court hearing lasted only 40 days.

The court noted that major parties involved in this case will have to wrap up their arguments in a day, with two hours each for rejoinders.

The questions include: What is the scope and ambit of the right to freedom of religion under Article 25 of the Constitution? What is the interplay between the rights of persons under Article 25 of the Constitution of India and rights of religious denominations under Article 26 of the Constitution?

The bench will also examine the scope and extent of judicial review with regard to a religious practice, as referred to in Article 25, and the meaning of the expression “Sections of Hindus” in Article 25 (2) (b) of India’s Constitution.

The bench will also deal with whether a person not belonging to a religious denomination or group can question a practice of that group by filing a public interest litigation (PIL).

The court said that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, will open the arguments on the matter, followed by senior advocate K. Parasaran on February 17.

The nine-judge bench will proceed in accordance with reference order of November 2019 delivered by a five-judge bench, which by a majority of 3-2 referred a larger bench to evolve a judicial policy to do “substantial and complete justice” in matters of freedom of religion — entry of Muslim women into mosques and ‘dargahs’; female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community; and the bar on Parsi women married to non-Parsi men from entering their fire temple or ‘agiary’.

The top court had indicated that it would not decide on the issue of Muslim women’s entry into mosques, as well as on the Parsi and Dawoodi Bohra practices after many senior advocates argued against the clubbing of these issues with the Sabarimala temple case.

In September 2018, the apex court through a 4:1 verdict lifted the ban on women and girls aged between 10 and 50 from entering the sanctum of the famous Ayyappa shrine in Sabarimala.

India

Modi, Shah can’t always help, RSS cautions BJP

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Modi and Amit Shah

New Delhi, Feb 20 : “A bad candidate cannot claim a premium just because the party he belongs to is good. An evil is an evil…” This commentary on BJP is not by any opposition leader but from within.

RSS’ English language mouthpiece ‘Organiser’ has come up with a scathing observation, quoting Deendayal Upadhyaya, on the BJP, it’s Delhi unit and the candidates who were launched in the poll fray in the aftermath of a humiliating loss in the national capital.

In a no-nonsense approach, the author asserted that the BJP as an organisation needs to understand that Amit Shah and Narendra Modi “cannot always help out”.

“Narendra Modi and Amit Shah cannot always help out in the Assembly level elections and there is no option but to rebuild the organisation in Delhi to address the local aspirations,” read the article.

The article titled ‘Delhi’s Divergent Mandate’ authored by its editor Prafulla Ketkar called for understanding the “context of city-state voting behaviour” in Delhi. The article says the answer lies in the changing character of aspirational Delhi.

Stating that the ‘Shaheen Bagh narrative’ failed for the BJP because Arvind Kejriwal steered clear of it. But taking a dig at the saffron avatar of Kejriwal, the author subtly asks BJP to keep a watch on him. He asks, “This genie of Muslim fundamentalism experimented under the pretext of CAA may create a new testing ground for Kejriwal. How does Kejriwal respond to this danger? How far was his chanting of Hanuman Chalisa genuine?”

It was reported earlier that both the Sangh and VHP are content with the Hindu-centric politics that forced Kejriwal to adapt to the changing trend. But Ketkar is apprehensive that it’s not ‘genuine’ side of the AAP.

He sent out a clear message to the Delhi unit: you failed. The apparent failure of BJP to revitalise the organisational structure at the grassroots level after 2015 was recognised as one of the prominent reasons for the poll debacle in which BJP secured just eight seats as AAP swept to power with 62 seats.A

After the defeat, the BJP went into multiple huddles — one with general secretaries, another in which Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari was quizzed by party chief J.P. Nadda and General Secretary (Organisation) B.L. Santosh and several others.

While the Delhi unit has blamed it on Congress giving it up, thus making it easy for the Aam Aadmi Party, the central BJP blames the faction-ridden Delhi unit as well. This is one of the reasons why the party refused to project any chief ministerial face ahead of the polls.

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No-Bag Day on Saturdays for Rajasthan students

The Chief Minister also announced Rs 100 crore for setting up a ‘Tourism Development Fund’ and said that the policy for ‘ease of travelling in Rajasthan’ will be pursued.

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Students School Bags

Jaipur, Feb 20 : Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday announced a ‘No-Bag Day’ on Saturdays for students of government schools across the state.

Delivering his customary speech during the presentation of the state Budget in the Assembly, he said that though there would be no studies on the said day, activities related to happiness therapy, literature and culture, sports, personality development, moral values, scout, tips to stay healthy etc shall be organised for the students.

Also, parent-teacher meetings would be held on Saturdays to enable the school teachers update the parents on their wards’ academic performance, the Chief Minister added.

Gehlot also announced huge funds for sportspersons in Rajasthan. Those winning gold medals in the Olympics will henceforth get Rs 3 crore from the state government, compared with Rs 75 lakh earlier. Silver medallists will get Rs 2 crore against Rs 50 lakh earlier and bronze medallists Rs 1 crore against Rs 30 lakh earlier.

Asian Games gold medallists will now get Rs 1 crore, silver winners Rs 60 lakh and bronze medallists Rs 30 lakh as compared to Rs 30 lakh, Rs 20 lakh and Rs 10 lakh respectively earlier on. As many as 500 coaches will be appointed on contractual basis to nurture sports talent in the desert state.

The Chief Minister also announced Rs 100 crore for setting up a ‘Tourism Development Fund’ and said that the policy for ‘ease of travelling in Rajasthan’ will be pursued.

Another important Budget proposal was that those injured in an accident in Rajasthan can’t be denied treatment by private hospitals. It would be mandatory for these hospitals to attend to injured patients or else action would be taken against the erring institute, Gehlot said, adding that a law would be formulated in this regard, if need be.

Gehlot announced seven resolutions of his government — Nirogi Rajasthan; Sampann Kissan; Mahila, Bal and Vridhh Kalyan; Saksham Mazdoor, Chhatra Yuva Javan; Shiksha ka Paridhan; Pani, Bijli aur Sadkon ka Maan; and Kaushal and Takneek Pradhan.

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Rajasthan CM Gehlot promises 50,000 jobs

Despite several vacancies getting stuck in legal tangles and the proverbial red tapes, Gehlot sounded confident of creating around 50,000 jobs this year.

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Ashok Gehlot

Jaipur, Feb 20 : One post of constable and 309 applicants! It only reflects the grim unemployment scenario in the state.

For the post of 5,483 constables, announced to be filled this year, around 17 lakh applications have been received. Most applications have come from Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur, Biju George, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) in charge of the recruitment, told IANS.

Confirming the number of applicants, the ADGP said in 2018, against 10,000 openings the department had received over 15 lakh applications — 150 contenders for one post.

Meanwhile, presenting his second budget in the Assembly on Thursday, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced that the government would create 53,181 jobs this year. Gehlot also holds the finance portfolio.

The state government, according to him, has created 34,682 jobs and 82,000 appointments are under process in his current tenure. The Congress government came to power in the state in December 2018.

In 2020-21, the maximum number of jobs (41,000) would be created in the education sector, followed by the home department (5,000), the health sector (4,369), the local self-government (1,039), the cooperative department (1,000), and the medical education (573), Gehlot said. The General Administration Department would get 200 new posts, he added.

Despite several vacancies getting stuck in legal tangles and the proverbial red tapes, Gehlot sounded confident of creating around 50,000 jobs this year.

On Barmer Refinery and Petrochemical Complex, the Chief Minister said the government would complete the project within the deadline. It would further create jobs, Gehlot added.

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