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Former SC judges divided over increasing retirement age

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Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, Oct 21 : Former Supreme Court judges are divided over a suggestion to increase the retirement age of judges to 70 years. Those opposed to it say that 65 years is “optimal” and even at this age it is difficult to bear the burden of the court’s heavy workload.

While Justice K.T. Thomas and Justice K.S. Panikar Radhakrishnan dismissed the suggestion to increase the retirement age, Justice B. Sudershan Reddy endorsed it.

In the recent past, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal — the central government’s topmost lawyer — had on a number of occasions raised the issue of increasing the retirement age of the judges of the higher judiciary, including a three-fold increase in their salaries — a position not shared by the Narendra Modi government.

Those favouring enhancing the retirement age have cited increased life expectancy as a ground and comparing it with the prevailing practices in other countries, including US where Supreme Court judges serve for life, the UK where the retirement age is 70 year and other countries where it is 70 or 75 years.

Justifying the suggestion for increasing the retirement age on the grounds of increasing “longevity” and life expectancy, senior lawyer C.S. Vaidyanathan said that “physical and mental ability to work” beyond 65 years is “very much there” — a view endorsed by former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and senior lawyer K.V. Vishwanathan.

There is no rational justification to retire judges at the age of 65, Vishwanathan said, adding: “Judges mature and ripen in their late fifties or early sixties and one must tap their talent beyond 65 years.”

Buttressing the point, Vishwanathan cited the example of Justice Anthony McLeod Kennedy who rested his pen in US Supreme Court in 2018 at the age of 82.

He described Justice Kennedy as a “classic example” of a “prolific writer” at the ripe age of 82.

Justice Kennedy was succeeded by Justice Brett Kavanaugh — whose confirmation hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee saw the burgeoning of the ‘MeToo’ volcano denting the reputation of many among the high and mighty.

All this did not weigh with Justice Thomas and Justice Radhakrishnan, who thought 65 years was a good enough an age to hang up the gown, because at this age, mental and physical wear and tear start manifesting.

“There may be one, two or three judges who can carry on with the heavy, demanding work of the Supreme Court with the same tempo. But others find it difficult to work. My colleagues used to tell me the that they find it difficult to carry on,” said Justice Thomas, citing Justice P.K. Paripoornan as telling him: “I can’t keep up with the volume of work in the Supreme Court.”

Rohatgi, Vaidyanathan and K.V. Vishwanathan not only favoured increasing the retirement age but also bringing the retirement age of the High Court judges at par with that of the Supreme Court — an issue on which Justice Reddy differed.

While Justice Thomas agreed that the retirement age should be at par, Justice Reddy felt that the “distinction” should remain.

Justice Thomas asked: “If Supreme Court judges could work up to the age of 65 years, then why not High Court judges?”

Unequivocally asserting that even at 65, handling the Supreme Court’s workload is fatiguing, Justice Radhakrishnan said that the retirement age of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts could be increased, but with the option of quitting before reaching the age of superannuation — a practice prevailing in Zimbabwe, where a top court judge is appointed to retire at 65 years but can opt to continue till 70.

“Personally I was very happy when I retired because for a period of 15 to 20 years you have put in so much work which can’t be compared with any other service,” Justice Radhakrishnan said, adding: “A really hard-working judge would like to retire at the age of 65 as working for over 15 to 20 years takes its toll.”

“As a judge I have to do justice to the court,” Justice Radhakrishnan maintained, pointing out that “there can’t be any comparison with other countries. In America, the Supreme Court has 100 to 130 cases per year. Similar is the case with England and the International Court of Justice.”

The Supreme Court in India deals with over 65,000 cases per year.

However, there is no split view on increasing the salaries of the judges of the higher judiciary which, at the current level, is considered to be on the lower side. In January, the salary of a Supreme Court judge was hiked to Rs 250,000 a month from Rs 90,000 and that of the Chief Justice to Rs 2.8 lakhs from Rs 1 lakh.

Justice Sudershan Reddy said that the salary increase of the judges should be “commensurate with the work load they carry”.

(Parmod Kumar can be contacted at [email protected] )

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Madhya Pradesh farmers hopeful of being ‘debt-free’ as loan waiver scheme kicks-off

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Earth Climate

Bhopal, Jan 22 : A week after the launch of the loan waiver scheme in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress government claims 19.54 lakh farmers have filed their applications in the six days till Sunday.

While the opposition BJP has been calling the “Jai Kisan Rin Mukti Yojana” a trick to cheat the farmers, the question is how the farmers of the state perceive the entire exercise.

Kailash Chaudhary, a farmer from Mandsaur district’s Babulda village, said: “About two years ago, six farmers sacrificed their lives for their rights in Pipliya Mandi. This is the beginning of the victory of their fight.”

“Forms are being filled for waiver of loans up to Rs 2 lakh. We feel that the government is taking our demands seriously,” Chaudhary told IANS.

Mandsaur was the centre of farmers’ agitation in 2017 when six farmers were killed in police firing in June, 2017. After the incident, the farmers’ movement had taken over the whole state, which then spread to the whole nation.

Farmer’s leader Kedar Sirohi said: “Farmers in different parts of the state are excited about the loan waiver. They are filing applications in large numbers.”

“To ensure they don’t face any difficulty in filing applications, leaders and workers of farmer organisations are helping them. Government officials is also alert to help out the farmers. Colour coding of application forms has made it easier for farmers to fill out the applications,” he said.

According to official figures, out of the 19.54 lakh forms filed till Sunday, around 60 per cent were green forms, 35 per cent were white forms and 5 percent were pink forms. The farmers are hopeful of becoming debt-free through this exercise.

As per the scheme, the farmers of the Aadhaar seeded list will have to submit green applications and the farmers of non-Aadhar seeded list will have to submit white coloured applications. Farmers have to submit a pink application to file an objection or claim against information provided in the green or white list.

However, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had been accusing the Congress of misleading the farmers and terming the scheme a trick to cheat them.

Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said the Congress promise of a loan waiver won’t be fulfilled by a mere announcement.

“The Chief Minister (Kamal Nath) and Congress leaders are saying they have fulfilled their promise of loan waiver to the farmers. But the promise has not yet been fulfilled. An announcement does not mean fulfillment of the promise,” he said, adding the Congress was misleading the farmers.

Congress spokesperson Syed Jaffer responded that 55 lakh farmers will get their loans waived of under the scheme, for which the due process needs to be followed.

“No matter what charges the BJP makes, the truth is that farmers are happy and they trust that the Congress is fulfilling the promise that they made to them,” he said.

“Those farmers who are in debt, neither are they now receiving notices from the banks nor is their property being seized. Under BJP rule, farmers had to go to jail and lose their property just for not paying their power bills,” Jaffer told IANS.

Calling the scheme pro-farmer, farmer leader Shiv Kumar Sharma told IANS that political parties were creating doubts about the scheme.

“Farmers were reeling under debt which had increased manifold over the last one-and-a-half decade. Now they are getting waiver of up to Rs 2 lakh. The government is new and one should wait before making adverse comments,” he said.

Kamal Nath had signed the farm loan waiver file soon after taking oath as the Chief Minister. The filing of forms for the waiver started from January 15 and will continue till February 5.

According to the government, farmers will start getting the money in their loan accounts from February 22.

The Chief Minister had said that the scheme would benefit around 55 lakh farmers by waiving their loans worth Rs 50,000 crore.

(Sundeep Pouranik can be contacted at [email protected])

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Entertainment industry is run by a glamorous mafia: Pahlaj Nihalani

Dropping another bomb, Nihalani says he suspects the hands of some big guns in sabotaging “Rangeela Raja”.

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Pahlaj Nihalani

Mumbai, Jan 22 :Govinda, “Rangeela Raja”, Pahlaj Nihalani-backed comeback vehicle for Govinda, did not open well. Nihalani says it is because his film did not get the theatres required as the entertainment industry is run by a “glamorous mafia”.

“I am being targeted for my blunt views on the workings of censor board, and because of me, my leading man Govinda is being targeted. If you ask me, Govinda and I have the maximum number of enemies in the film industry,” Nihalani said.

Lamenting the lack of theatres for “Rangeela Raja”, Nihalani says he was refused a release in places like Bihar and Jharkhand.

“These are traditional strongholds of Govinda. And not a single theatre in Patna or Ranchi agreed to play ‘Rangeela Raja’. Why? Because my film is bad? Are only quality films released in theatres? And who decides that my film is substandard? A handful of critics for whom I did not have a press show, so they are upset with me and they are taking it out on my film,” he said.

Dropping another bomb, Nihalani says he suspects the hands of some big guns in sabotaging “Rangeela Raja”.

“I know who they are. I know the people who want to finish off Govinda and me. The entertainment industry is run by a glamorous mafia. They all sit, eat, sleep and make movies together. Solo producers like me with no corporate backing are being pushed out of the film industry in the name of corporotization,” he said.

But Nihalani says he isn’t going away anywhere.

“I belong to this industry as much as those who are currently monopolising the A-list stars. I will make another film with Govinda and prove he too is an A-list star.”

Nihalani says he has always believed in introducing new talent and will continue to do so.

“I introduced Govinda and Chunky Pandey. In ‘Rangeela Raja’ I’ve introduced Mishika Chourasia. I am confident she has a very bright future. Unless the industry will punish her for being Pahlaj Nihalani’s protege.”

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BenQ launches 4K home cinema projectors in India

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w2700 cinematic color with true 4k kv

New Delhi, Jan 22 : Taiwanese electronics company BenQ on Tuesday launched two new 4K home cinema projectors — “W2700” and “W5700” — with CinematicColor technology, projector-optimised HDR-PRO support and individual factory colour calibration in India.

The new projectors, “W2700” and “W5700”, priced at Rs 2.49 lakh and Rs 2.99 lakh respectively, are the world’s first 4K home cinema projectors, the company said.

“With this new range of 4K projectors, we are extremely optimistic that these will turn any room into a world-class home theatre with video enhancing technologies,” said Rajeev Singh, Managing Director, BenQ India.

Fuelled by DCI-P3 colour space, “W2700” delivers the highest level of image accuracy while the “W5700” projector provides a 1.6X big zoom along with 2D H/V lens shift that is ideal for audio visual (AV) rooms.

The HDR-PRO supported projectors also incorporate auto colour and tone mapping techniques to offer improved brightness and contrast range along with ideal image optimization for vivid video quality.

Designed with a compact profile, the light weight projectors facilitate tailored AV personalization with versatile short throw, big zoom and lens shift for a wide range of home cinema possibilities, the company said.

The projectors would begin shipping in the first quarter of 2019.

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