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Section 377: Government leaves decision to wisdom of Supreme Court

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Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, July 11: The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued hearing a bunch of petitions challenging re-criminalisation of consensual gay sex between two adults, rejecting the Centre’s plea for a postponement of the proceedings.

Putting the ball in the Apex Court’s arena to decide the matter of the constitutionality of Section377, the central government today said it will not contest the petitions challenging the law which criminalises same-sex relations.

ASG Tushar Mehta told the five-judge constitution bench of SC that the Centre will leave the matter of the constitutionality of Section 377 to be decided by the Court.

Meanwhile, Meneka Guruswamy, a lawyer for one of the petitioners told the court ‘homosexuality doesn’t affect a person’s career and growth. People have cleared civil service examinations, IIT examinations and other top level competitive exams”.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people deserve to be protected by court, constitution and country.Section 377 denies the LGBT community the equal opportunity of participation’, she submitted to the Apex Court.

The bench, however, said it would only examine the “correctness” of its verdict of 2013, which cancelled a Delhi High Court judgment that said the law criminalizing gay sex was “unconstitutional”.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar for petitioners: “The SC judgement on privacy said sexual orientation essential attribute of privacy. That eclipses Section 377 IPC and makes it liable to be struck down.”

Appearing for a petitioner, Arvind Dattar said if a person has a different sexual orientation, it can’t be treated as a crime. This can’t be treated as against the order of nature.

The Centre on Monday had requested the court to adjourn the hearing for four weeks during which it would file its reply to the petitions. The bench, however, refused to defer the hearing and listed it for Tuesday for hearing the petitions challenging section 377 of the IPC, which criminalises unnatural sex between two consenting adults.

A newly re-constituted constitution bench will be headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprise Justices R.F. Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra. “No, no… it will not be adjourned,” the Bench said when Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, sought its deferment.

Section 377 deals with “unnatural offences,” and holds “whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

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Sabarimala Temple opens for the third time after Supreme Court verdict

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Sabarimala temple

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 16: Amid tight security, the Sabarimala temple opened for 62-day long MandalaPooja-Magaravilaku annual pilgrimage season on Friday. 

The doors of the Lord Ayyappa shrine opened for the third time since the Supreme Court’s September 28 verdict, which allowed the women and girls aged between 10-50 years to offer prayers at the temple.

As a precautionary measure,  section 144 (prohibits assembly of more than 4 people in an area) has been imposed in Nilakkal, Pamba, and Sannidhanam.

Meanwhile, after 13-hour standoff at Kochi airport, activist Trupti Desai agreed to return to her hometown Pune tonight.

She had written to Kerala government seeking security for her visit to Sabarimala Temple.

Speaking to media, Desai said “We reached Cochin Airport at 4:30 am. Protests were being held outside. We booked Taxi 2-3 times but drivers have been threatened that their vehicle will be vandalised if they offer us a drive. Police have said that we can’t go outside now”.

“Police tried to evacuate us from another gate but protesters were there as well. Protests being held here. Does this mean protesters are scared that we’ll reach Sabarimala once we reach Nilakkal, or, are they trying to scare us? We won’t return until we have ‘darshan'”, she added.

On the hand, BJP leader MN Gopi, who was outside the Cochin airport, told media that “Won’t allow Trupti Desai to go out from airport using police vehicle or other govt means.Airport taxies also won’t take her.If she wants, she can use her own vehicle.There will be agitations all along her way even if she goes out from airport”.

Meanwhile, Activist Rahul Easwar joined the protestors blocking Bhumata Brigade founder to leave for the temple visit.

Sabarimala Karma Samithi also held protest against Desai in Kerala’s Trivandrum.

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India has Rs 1,500 cr bank guarantee on offsets in Rafale deal

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Rafale deal scam

New Delhi, Nov 16: India has secured a bank guarantee for about Rs 1,500 crore from Dassault in the Rafale jet deal as a safeguard against any violations of the offset policy prepared in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), a leading financial daily said on Friday.

A special clause in the deal, which mandates that five per cent of the total offset value be kept as a buffer in case of non-performance, was invoked after officials insisted that the safeguard was needed to protect interests, it added.

According to The Economic Times, this was in line with similar provisions that are in place when it comes to direct government defence deals with the US.

The 185 million euro bank guarantee has been deposited and will remain valid for seven years, the report said citing people familiar with the deal.

This is in addition to the “letter of comfort” given by France that would underwrite the sale of 36 Rafale fighter jets.

The government had told the Supreme Court earlier this week that there was no sovereign guarantee from France in Rafale deal but there was a letter of comfort.

The report said that the Defence Ministry would reserve the right to cash the bank guarantee if it feels that the offset guidelines have been violated or that the French manufacturers have not executed them in the quantum promised.

It said that the special clause was put in place as per the 2013 DPP that mandates that the vendor shall be required to furnish a performance bond equal to five per cent of the offset obligation, which is required to be fulfilled during the period of the main procurement contract.

The report said that offsets have been a part of most major defence deals since 2006 but the ministry has faced major problems in implementing the offsets policy, mostly due to the large quantum to be discharged and a rigidity of rules that do not give flexibility to foreign vendors.

It said that the US companies Lockheed Martin and Textron have been slapped with penalties for failing to meet offsets.

These penalties were recovered from the five per cent bank guarantees that had been secured at the time of the contracts.

The deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to France in 2015.

The Indian Negotiating Team (INT) held 74 meetings in 12 months from May 2015 to April 2016, including 48 internal meetings and 26 meetings with the French side and the proposal was presented to the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) thrice for getting approvals on various aspects of negotiations.

The proposal to purchase the fighter jets under an inter-government agreement (IGA) was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in August 2016.

IANS

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Andhra Pradesh bars CBI officials from entering state without permission

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Chandrababu Naidu

Amaravati, Nov 16: In an unprecedented move, The Andhra Pradesh government has barred the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from conducting raids or carrying out investigations in the state without its permission.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government issued the orders withdrawing ‘general consent’ to CBI officers to exercise jurisdiction in the state to investigate corruption charges against officials of central government and private persons.

The move by THE Chandrababu Naidu government came amid the continuing crisis in THE CBI in the wake of allegations of corruption against its director Alok Verma by his deputy Rakesh Asthana.

The Principal Secretary (Home) in Andhra Pradesh, A.R. Anuradha, issued the orders dated November 8, exercising powers under Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946,

The state government on August 3 this year had issued orders giving its general consent to the CBI to exercise its powers and jurisdiction in the state. The same has now been revoked as per Section 6 of the DSPE Act.

It is under this Act that CBI exercises its jurisdiction in states. The state governments every year issue notifications to give ageneral consent’ to the investigating agency to probe corruption cases.

Official sources said the move was necessitated by the fact that CBI had lost its credibility and integrity in the wake of recent developments.

The latest move by the TDP government is seen as another flash-point between the state and the Centre after TDP pulled out of BJP-led NDA in March this year.

TDP President and Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu had been accusing the Modi government of misusing central agencies to target TDP leaders for demanding special category status to the state.

There have been a series of Income Tax searches at the offices and residences of TDP leaders in recent weeks. TDP leaders had also voiced the apprehension that the Centre could use CBI and other agencies to target top leadership of the party.

Following the recent developments in CBI, Naidu had targeted Modi government for what he called damaging the credibility of the premier investigation agency.

Naidu, who is trying to mobilise all opposition parties to form a front against the BJP, alleged that Modi was weakening the central institutions.

IANS

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