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State must discard colonial notion of being sovereign: SC

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New Delhi, Dec 1 : The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that the state must discard the colonial notion that it is a sovereign entity handing out doles at its will. The remarks from the top court came as it rapped the Jharkhand government for depriving an industrial unit of its legitimate entitlement under an industrial policy.

A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra said: “Both the accountability of the state and the solemn obligation which it undertook in terms of the policy document militate against accepting such a notion of state power. The state must discard the colonial notion that it is a sovereign entity handing out doles at its will.”

The bench noted that the state having held out a solemn representation, it would be manifestly unfair and arbitrary to deprive industrial units within the state of their legitimate entitlement.

The bench emphasised that the state’s policies give rise to legitimate expectations that it will act according to what it puts forth in the public realm. “In all its actions, the state is bound to act fairly, in a transparent manner. A deprivation of the entitlement of private citizens and private business must be proportional to a requirement grounded in public interest,” noted the bench.

The dispute is connected to one of the clauses of the state’s 2012 Industrial Policy. The Clause 32.10 provided an exemption from the payment of 50 per cent of the electricity duty for a period of five years for captive power plants established for self-consumption or captive use.

The state had moved the top court challenging a high court order, which upheld the claim of Brahmputra Metallics Ltd that it was entitled to a rebate/deduction from electricity duty in terms of the representation held out in the Industrial Policy 2012, and that the denial of the exemption by the state government for FYs 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 was contrary to the doctrine of promissory estoppel.

The top court observed that in terms of Clause 35.7(b) of the Industrial Policy 2012, the entitlement ensues from the financial year following the commencement of production.

“The respondent commenced production on August 17, 2011. Hence, the order of the high court would have to be confirmed for FYs 2012-13 and 2013-14. In conclusion, we are in agreement with the conclusion of the high court that the respondent was entitled to an exemption from electricity duty, although for the reasons indicated in this judgment. Further, the relief granted would stand confined to FYs 2012-13 and 2013-14,” said the top court modifying the high court order.

The bench said that it is clear that the state had made a representation to the company and similarly situated industrial units under the Industrial Policy 2012. “This representation gave rise to a legitimate expectation on their behalf, that they would be offered a 50 per cent rebate/deduction in electricity duty for the next five years,” said the bench.

The bench noted that due to the failure of the state to issue a notification within the stipulated time and by the grant of the exemption only prospectively, the expectation and trust in the state stood violated.

“Since the state has offered no justification for the delay in issuance of the notification, or provided reasons for it being in public interest, we hold that such a course of action by the state is arbitrary and violative of Article 14,” said the top court.

The court did not agree to the state’s contention and answered in the affirmative on whether a private company was entitled to a rebate in electricity duty under the industrial policy.

India

‘Jai Hind’, Modi wishes nation on Republic Day

Thereafter, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries will head to the saluting dais at Rajpath to witness the 90-minute-long Republic Day parade ceremony.

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Narendra Modi

New Delhi, Jan 26 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday extended his greetings to the citizens of India as the country marked its 72nd Republic Day.

In a tweet both in English and Hindi, the Prime Minister said: “Wishing all the people of India a Happy Republic Day… Jai Hind.”

On this day in 1950, the Constitution of India came into force.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to visit the National War Memorial near the India Gate later in the day, from where he will lead the nation in paying solemn tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath.

Thereafter, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries will head to the saluting dais at Rajpath to witness the 90-minute-long Republic Day parade ceremony.

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Tractor rally: farmers breach Delhi’s Red Fort in huge protest

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Red Fort

Thousands of farmers protesting at agriculture reforms have fought through police barricades and tear gas to enter Delhi’s historic Red Fort complex.

They were on foot and in tractors – part of a huge rally that was planned to coincide with India’s Republic Day.

Many protesters diverted from agreed routes and clashes broke out with police. One protester has died.

Mobile internet services have been suspended in parts of Delhi as security forces scramble to restore order.

The government says the reforms that spurred the protests will liberalise the agriculture sector, but farmers say they will lose income.

Tens of thousands of them have been striking on the outskirts of Delhi since November, demanding the laws be repealed. They rejected a government offer to put the laws on hold last week.

This is one of the longest farmers-led protests India has ever seen, pitting the community against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) government.

How did the protests turn violent?

Police agreed to allow Tuesday’s rally after several rounds of talks on the condition that it would not interrupt the annual Republic Day parade, which takes place in central Delhi. They gave farmers specific routes for their rally, which would largely be confined to the outskirts.

But farmers instead converged on the iconic 16th Century fortress. They breached security and clambered onto the walls and domes of the fort, even hoisting flags alongside the national flag.

By Tuesday afternoon, police said they had removed protesting farmers from the Red Fort complex, but the situation remains tense.

“We came here to deliver a message to the Modi government, our job is done. We will go back now,” one protesting farmer told NDTV.

While farmers at several entry points appear to have followed the agreed routes, a section of protesters broke through police barricades earlier in the day.

They marched towards central Delhi, where India’s parliament is located.

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Farmers’ demonstrations in Delhi turn violent as protester clash with the police

Violence broke out in Delhi on Republic Day as protesters in farmers’ tractor rally marched into the national capital, breaking barricades and clashing with the police. The Delhi Police resorted to tear gas shells and lathi-charge to contain the situation. Deviating from the designated route, a section of farmers entered the Red Fort and hoisted flags

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Red Fort Farmers

Violence marred farmers’ tractor rally on Tuesday as protesters clashed with police at multiple places in Delhi and entered the iconic Red Fort.

Protesting farmers deviated from pre-decided routes, which prompted police personnel to resort to lathicharge and tear gas. Many cops were injured in the violence that broke out amid the 72nd Republic Day celebrations in India.

Protesting farmers at Delhi border points clashed with police early Tuesday morning as they broke barricades to force their way into the city much ahead of the time the cops had told them to enter. Thousands of farmers entered Delhi from Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri border points amid heavy deployment of police.

Delhi Police had on Sunday allowed the tractor rally after the annual Republic Day parade. The protesters were told they can’t disrupt the celebrations at Rajpath even as the farmers insisted their parade will be “peaceful”.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November 28, demanding a repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops.

Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed their apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of MSP (minimum support price) and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

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