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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

India wants to focus on connectivity to Buddhist sites: PM Modi

The Prime Minister said that the event is also known as Guru Purnima. “This is a day to remember our gurus who gave us knowledge. In that spirit, we pay homage to Lord Buddha,” PM said.

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Modi PM

New Delhi, July 4 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Asaadh Poornima and the inauguration of the Dharma Chakra Day, on Saturday, said India wants to focus on connectivity to Buddhist sites to improve tourism.

The Prime Minister’s remark came at a time when the country is passing through its worst economic phase and needs improvement in all sectors including tourism to attract revenue.

“We want to focus on connectivity to Buddhist sites. A few days back the Indian cabinet announced that Kushinagar airport will be an international one. This will bring people, pilgrims and tourists,” Modi said.

Addressing through video conferencing, Modi said he is very hopeful about the 21st century and this hope comes from young friends. He lauded the efforts of youths in start-up sectors saying, “If you want to see a great example of how hope, innovation and compassion can remove suffering, it is our start-up sector led by our youths,”

Noting that bright young minds are finding solutions to global problems, the Prime Minister said India has one of the largest start-up eco-systems and I would urge my young friends to also stay connected with the thoughts of Lord Buddha so that they could be motivated and find the way ahead.

The Prime Minister said that the event is also known as Guru Purnima. “This is a day to remember our gurus who gave us knowledge. In that spirit, we pay homage to Lord Buddha,” PM said.

“The eight-fold path of Lord Buddha shows the way towards the well-being of many societies and nations. It highlights the importance of compassion and kindness. The teachings of Lord Buddha celebrate simplicity, both in thought and action,” He said.

Buddhism teaches respect for people, the poor and women, for peace and non-violence. “Therefore, the teachings of Buddhism are the means to a sustainable planet.”

“In his very first sermon in Sarnath, and his teachings after that, Lord Buddha spoke on two things — hope and purpose. He saw a strong link between them. From hope comes a spirit of purpose,” the Prime Minister said.

Talking of the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister said the world is fighting against this virus with extraordinary challenges. To these challenges, he said, lasting solutions can come from the ideals of Lord Buddha. “They were relevant in the past. They are relevant in the present. And, they will continue to remain relevant in the future.”

“May the thoughts of Lord Buddha further brighten togetherness and brotherhood. May his blessings inspire us to do good,” the Prime Minister added.

This day is also aptly observed as Guru Poornima by both Buddhists and Hindus as a day to mark reverence to their Gurus. The day is celebrated as Dharma Chakra Day by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), under the Ministry of Culture. This day commemorates Buddha”s First Sermon to his first five ascetic disciples at the Deer Park, Rsipatana in the present-day Sarnath near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

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Cities

COVID-19: Fresh surge in corona cases causes alarm in Agra

Increased mobility and opening of markets in Unlock-2, plus the monsoon rains, can further increase the number of cases, health officials indicated.

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Coronavirus Spray

Agra, July 4 : With 14 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths in the last 24 hours, alarm bells have begun to ring in the Taj city. The district authorities have reviewed the grim situation and scaled up testing in the hotspots.

In view of the spike in cases, the authorities have again raised the number of containment and buffer zones to 68. Earlier, the number had dropped to 54.

The new cases have taken the tally to 1,267. Six patients were discharged after recovery. The death toll now stands at 90, while the total number of discharged patients is 1,040. Health officials said the number of active cases now was 137.

The recovery rate is 82.09 per cent.

Indian Medical Association (IMA) secretary doctor Sanjay Chaturvedi said the picture would be clear in eight to ten days. The number of positive cases had gone below ten, but now it has gone up again. As private labs begin testing samples, the cases could go up, he feared.

Increased mobility and opening of markets in Unlock-2, plus the monsoon rains, can further increase the number of cases, health officials indicated.

But the district administration and the screening teams now organising health camps in hotspots were fully prepared to cope with the challenges, they said.

A total of 41 teams surveyed 2,541 homes on Friday, contacting more than 10,000 people who were provided free medicines and consultations.

Three private laboratories are now offering testing facilities. One problem the survey teams faced was wrong addresses and mobile phone numbers recorded by the patients. Rescue teams had now been asked to cross check and verify the details to be able to trace positive cases.

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Cities

Maharashtra touches new high of 6,364 corona patients, 198 deaths

Meanwhile, the number of people sent to home quarantine increased to 589,448, while those in institutional quarantine increased to 42,371.

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coronavirus india

Mumbai, July 3 : Maharashtra’s Covid-19 cases continued to break records with a new high of 6,364 – up from Thursday’s 6,330, and notched 198 deaths for the second time in three days, health officials said here on Friday.

With the latest fatalities, the state death toll climbed up to 8,376 and total cases zoomed to 192,990 – both the highest in the country.

Friday”s figures work out to roughly one death recorded every 7 minutes and a staggering 265 new cases notched every hour.

The recovery rate in the state improved marginally from to 54.24 per cent while the mortality rate stood at 4.34 percent.

July has started with three-digit highs of deaths and over 5,000 cases daily, causing major concerns among health officials.

The Health Department said of the total number of cases declared till date, 79,911 are active case.

On the positive side, 3,515 fully cured patients returned home on Friday – taking the number of those discharged to 104,687.

Of Friday”s fatalities, Mumbai alone notched 73 deaths – pulling up the city death toll to 4,762, while the number of Covid-19 positive patients here shot up by 1,338 cases to 82,074.

There were also 50 deaths in Thane, 19 in Pune, 15 in Solapur, six each in Palghar, Aurangabad and Jalgaon, five in Jalna, four in Raigad, three in Akola, two each in Dhule and Amravati, and one each in Nashik, Ahmednagar, Nandurbar, Latur and Gondiya. Two deceased were from other states.

The MMR (Thane division) continues to see deaths and cases continue to pile up, with a total of 6,060 Covid-19 fatalities and a whopping 4,379 new patients pushing up the number of positive cases to 137,783.

Thane cases have shot upto 43,634 with 1,075 fatalities – to emerge as the second worst-hit district after Mumbai in the state.

Pune district comes third with 25,454 patients and 826 deaths till now. But Pune division ranks second (after MMR) with 29,371 patients and 1,157 fatalities.

Nashik division has 566 fatalities and 10,379 positive cases, followed by Aurangabad division with 306 deaths and 7,060 cases, and Akola division with 139 fatalities and 2,934 cases.

Kolhapur division has notched 55 deaths and 2,173 patients, Latur division 49 fatalities and 1,134 cases, and Nagpur division has recorded 19 deaths and 2,050 cases.

Among the eight divisions, only Kolhapur recorded zero fatalities on Friday, though there were new Covid-19 positive cases.

Nashik division, meanwhile, the third division to enter the 5-digit levels in the total cases.

Meanwhile, the number of people sent to home quarantine increased to 589,448, while those in institutional quarantine increased to 42,371.

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