In a very disciplined, dedicated and determined direction to the State of UP and its instrumentalities, the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court in a most learned, laudable, landmark and latest judgment titled Ram Vilas Thru Daughter Sarojani And Another v. State of U.P. Thru. Prin. Secy. Home And Others in Habeas Corpus Writ Petition No. – 80 of 2022 and cited in 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 227 that was pronounced finally on April 11, 2022 has minced absolutely no words to observe that no person, including an accused can be summoned to a police station orally by subordinate police officials without the consent/approval of the station-in-charge. Most commendably, the Bench of Justice Arvind Kumar Mishra-I and Justice Manish Mathur further directed the authorities thus: “In case any application or complaint is given at any police station which requires investigation and presence of the accused then a suitable course of action as prescribed under provisions of Criminal Procedure Code are to be followed which contemplate a written notice being served upon such a person but that too only consequent to a case being registered.” It must also be mentioned here that the Bench issued these most commendable directions while underscoring that the life, liberty and dignity of any person cannot be thrown to the winds merely on verbal orders of police officials. We need such judgments on a regular basis which alone can ensure that people’s legal rights are not taken for a ride by the police at their own whims and fancies!
To start with, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by Hon’ble Justice Arvind Kumar Mishra and Hon’ble Justice Manish Mathur sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth that, “Learned A.G.A. has filed short counter affidavit, the same is taken on record. Heard Mr. Shyamendra Singh learned counsel for the petitioner whose power is taken on record, Mr. S.P. Singh learned Additional Government Advocate and perused the material brought on record of this Habeas Corpus Writ Petition.”
In hindsight, the Bench then recalls that, “Pursuant to our previous order passed on 8th April, 2022, treating the Letter Petition filed by daughter of petitioners to be a Habeas Corpus Petition, certain facts were brought to the notice of this Court on point that the petitioners namely, Savitri and Ram Vilas have been called at Police Station- Mahila Thana, Lucknow, from where they have not returned as yet. The petition after being treated as Habeas Corpus was heard by us, wherein, learned A.G.A. on behalf of the State brought to our notice the fact that no such occurrence took place at the police station as stated.”
As it turned out, the Bench then states that, “Today petitioners Savitri and Ram Vilas are present before this Court along with their daughter Sorojini duly identified by their counsel and it was informed by the petitioners that some police personnel came to them and required their presence at the police station. Pursuant thereto, petitioners went to the police station where they were allegedly detained and threatened by some police personnel.”
To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages that, “In the short counter affidavit sworn by Ms. Durgawati posted as Inspector, Mahila Thana, Lucknow who is also personally present in Court, certain facts have been brought to the notice of this Court that petitioners had visited the police station on 08.04.2022 around 12 noon and after recording their statements were allowed to leave the police station at around 3.30 p.m., the same day. The dispute between the complainant- Smt. Sushma Devi and her in-laws i.e. petitioners pertains to partition of ancestral property. Complainant’s husband- Vinay Kumar who is the son of Ram Vilas is also supporting his wife and claiming his share in the ancestral property.”
Simply stated, the Bench then mentions that, “Deponent Durgavati seeks unconditional apology for inconvenience caused to the Court for the mistake committed while providing information the Court on 8.4.2022, when this petition was listed on a short notice. The mistake committed was not intentional or deliberate but due to carelessness and insubordination of Head Constable No.1681Shailendra Singh who had not informed the deponent Durgavati that he had summoned Sri Ram Vilas and his wife Savitri. The deponent Durgavati has sent a report to Deputy commissioner of Police (Central), District Lucknow, Commissionerate to take appropriate disciplinary action against him, copy whereof has been annexed as Annexure No.3 to this affidavit.”
No doubt, the Bench then while mentioning Durgavati’s version states that, “It has been stated by deponent Durgavati that there was no deliberate attempt to humiliate or harass the petitioners but it was misconduct and in-subordination of the Constable concerned otherwise there was no cause for the police to have indulged in any maltreatment of petitioners. In future the police shall be mindful of their activities.”
Of course, the Bench then steadfastly maintains that, “In such case we after deliberation express unhesitatingly that there appears to be someone amongst the police personnel who fished in troubled waters and took advantage of the situation both to the detriment of private parties as well as to the working efficiency of the police system and in particular the police station concerned. It is incumbent and obligatory upon the police authorities concerned to nip the mischief in its bud.”
As we see, the Bench then observes that, “The right of a citizen not to be detained or restrained by the State or its instrumentalities without the backing of any law is fundamental as reflected in Articles 19(1)(d), 21 and 22 of the Constitution of India. Article 19(1)(d) protects rights of citizens to move freely throughout the territory of India with sub section 5 imposing reasonable restrictions either in the interest of general public or for protection of interest of any scheduled tribe. Article 21 relates to protection of life and personal liberty of any person including non citizens. Article 22 of the Constitution inheres protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.”
In retrospect, the Bench then while recalling one of the most relevant judgments remarked that, “As far back as 1950, His Lordship Hon’ble Justice Fazl Ali in the case of A.K. Gopalan versus State of Madras, A.I.R. 1950 Supreme Court 27 in his dissenting judgment has held that there is no antithesis between words ‘restriction’ and ‘deprivation’. It was held that restraint on the right to move can assume a variety of forms and restriction would be the most appropriate expression to be used in Clause (v) so as to cover all those forms ranging from total to various kinds of partial deprivation of freedom of movement. It was also held that the penal code does not primarily or necessarily impose restrictions on the freedom of movement and it is incorrect to say that it is a law imposing restrictions on the right to move freely. In fact the primary object of code was held to punish crime and not to restrict movement. His Lordship further held that punitive detention is essentially different from preventive detention and a person can be punitively detained only after a trial for committing a crime and after his guilt has been established in a competent court of jurisdiction whereafter a person so convicted can raise appeal there against and the final judgment would constitute a reasonable restriction which may not follow the right under Article 19(1)(d). However a person who is punitively detained does not require to face any such obstacle.
It was held that the expressions ‘personal liberty’ and ‘personal freedom’ have a wider and a narrower meaning. In the wider sense they include not only immunity from arrest and detention but also freedom of speech, freedom of association etc while in the narrower sense, they mean immunity from arrest and detention. The concept of personal liberty was used not only in the sense of immunity from arrest but also that it consisted in freedom of movement and locomotion. However with regard to interplay between various articles pertaining to fundamental rights, the majority view in the case of A.K. Gopalan (supra) was that they were distinct and separate without any overlapping and thus the views of Fazl Ali J. remained a minority view.”
In addition, the Bench then pointed out that, “The said aspect was again considered by the Supreme Court in the case of Kharak Singh versus State of U.P., A.I.R. 1963 Supreme Court 1295 in which the majority view of A.K. Gopalan (supra) was confirmed with the dissenting view being taken by His Lordship, Hon’ble Justice Subba Rao who followed the minority view in the case of A.K. Gopalan (supra) while holding that rights conferred by part (III) of the Constitution have overlapping areas and where a law or State action is challenged as infringing rights in different Articles of part (III), the State must satisfy the test of each Article individually. It was held that the expression ‘personal liberty’ is a comprehensive one and the right to move freely is an attribute of ‘personal liberty’. It was held that the rights indicated in Articles 19 and 21 of Constitution were independent fundamental rights, though there was overlapping and as such there was no question of one being carved out of another. It was further held that in case a person’s fundamental right under Article 21 was infringed, the State could only rely upon a law to sustain the action but the same would be required to satisfy the tests laid down in Article 19 as well. It was also held that the right of personal liberty takes in not only a right to be free from restriction placed on a person’s movements but should also be free from encroachments on his private life.”
It is then pointed out that, “The minority views in the cases of A.K. Gopalan (supra) and Kharak Singh(supra) were thereafter upheld in the subsequent constitution bench judgment by the Supreme Court in the case of Rustom Cavasjee Cooper versus Union of India, 1970, 1 SCC 248.”
Furthermore, the Bench then mentions that, “Subsequently in the case of National Legal Services Authority versus Union of India, 2014 (5) SCC 438, examining the ambit of Article 21, the Supreme Court held as follows:-
“ 73. Article 21 of the Constitution of India reads as follows:
“21.Protection of life and personal liberty.—No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”
Article 21 is the heart and soul of the Indian Constitution, which speaks of the rights to life and personal liberty. Right to life is one of the basic fundamental rights and not even the State has the authority to violate or take away that right. Article 21 takes all those aspects of life which go to make a person’s life meaningful. Article 21 protects the dignity of human life, one’s personal autonomy, one’s right to privacy, etc. Right to dignity has been recognised to be an essential part of the right to life and accrues to all persons on account of being humans. In Francis Coralie Mullin v. UT of Delhi [(1981) 1 SCC 608 : 1981 SCC (Cri) 212] (SCC pp. 618-19, paras 7 and 8), this Court held that the right to dignity forms an essential part of our constitutional culture which seeks to ensure the full development and evolution of persons and includes “expressing oneself in diverse forms, freely moving about and mixing and co-mingling with fellow human beings’.
75. Article 21, as already indicated, guarantees the protection of “personal autonomy” of an individual. In Anuj Garg v. Hotel Assn. of India [(2008) 3 SCC 1] (SCC p. 15, paras 34-35), this Court held that personal autonomy includes both the negative right of not to be subject to interference by others and the positive right of individuals to make decisions about their life, to express themselves and to choose which activities to take part in. Self-determination of gender is an integral part of personal autonomy and self-expression and falls within the realm of personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”
Needless to say, the Bench then states that, “As such it was held that Article 21 protects the basic fundamental right pertaining to dignity of human life and personal liberty.”
While citing a recent and relevant case law, the Bench then enunciates that, “In the case of K.S. Putta Swamy versus Union of India, 2017 (10) SCC 1, it has been held as follows:-
“119. To live is to live with dignity. The draftsmen of the Constitution defined their vision of the society in which constitutional values would be attained by emphasising, among other freedoms, liberty and dignity. So fundamental is dignity that it permeates the core of the rights guaranteed to the individual by Part III. Dignity is the core which unites the fundamental rights because the fundamental rights seek to achieve for each individual the dignity of existence. Privacy with its attendant values assures dignity to the individual and it is only when life can be enjoyed with dignity can liberty be of true substance. Privacy ensures the fulfillment of dignity and is a core value which the protection of life and liberty is intended to achieve.”
To put it differently, the Bench then states that, “The conjoint reading of aforesaid clearly indicates the consistent view taken by the Supreme Court that right to live with dignity is an essential part of right to life envisaged under Article 21 of Constitution of India since such a right coupled with the right to privacy ensures the fulfillment of core values which the protection of life and liberty is intended to achieve. The Supreme Court in the case of K.S. Putta Swamy (supra) has also held that the freedoms and liberties guaranteed under Article 21 has been interpreted to mean that life does not mean merely a physical existence and in fact includes all those faculties by which life is enjoyed. The ambit of ‘procedure established by law’ under Article 21 has been interpreted to mean that the procedure placing restriction on such rights must be fair, just and reasonable and the coalescence of Articles 14, 19 and 21 recognizes the interrelationship between rights guaranteed under the said Articles and such requirements of fairness and non discrimination animate both the substantive and procedural aspects of Article 21. It has been held that any law or State action impacting life or personal liberty has to be assessed not with reference to its object but on the basis of its effect and impact on fundamental rights.”
It is worth mentioning that the Bench then hastens to add that, “The observations of Fazl Ali J. in the case of A.K. Gopalan (supra) to the effect that Article 21 purports to protect life and personal liberty and it would be a precarious protection and a protection not worth having if the elementary principle of law pertaining to fundamental rights is to be ignored and excluded is quite apposite in the present context. In the case of K.S. Putta Swamy (supra) the Supreme Court interpreting Article 21 in the context of various judgments has held as follows:-
283. …..Protection of life and personal liberty.— ‘No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.’
If this Article is expanded in accordance with the interpretative principle indicated in Maneka Gandhi [Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, (1978) 1 SCC 248] , it will read as follows:
‘No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to fair, just and reasonable procedure established by valid law.’
In the converse positive form, the expanded Article will read as below:
‘A person may be deprived of his life or personal liberty in accordance with fair, just and reasonable procedure established by valid law.’”
It also deserves mentioning that the Bench then remarks that, “In the case of K.S, Putta Swamy (supra) it has been held that when validity of law or State action is questioned on the ground that it violates a guarantee contained under Article 21, the scope of challenge is not confined only to whether the procedure for deprivation of life or personal liberty is fair, just and reasonable but expands to the interrelationship between the guarantees against arbitrariness and the protection of life and personal liberty which operates in a facilitated plane since the procedure for deprivation must be fair, just and reasonable since Article 14 impacts both the procedure and the expression law.
The Supreme Court in the case of K.S. Putta Swamy (supra) has indicated three requirements which are to be fulfilled in order to keep the restraints imposed upon a person, within the ambit of fundamental rights. It has been held that the first requirement for imposing such a restraint must be based on a law in existence to justify any such encroachment on the express rights of Article 21. It has been held that existence of law is an essential requirement for imposing restrictions on rights which are guaranteed under part (III) of the Constitution.
Secondly the requirement that such State action or law which imposes restriction falls within the zone of reasonableness mandated by Article 14, which is a guarantee against arbitrary State action.
Thirdly that the requirement imposing restriction ensures that the means adopted are proportional to the object sought to be achieved since proportionality is an essential facet of the guarantee against arbitrary State action.
The concept of life and personal liberty as envisaged under Article 21 have been interpreted in the case of K.S. Putta Swamy (supra) as follows:-
“318. Life and personal liberty are inalienable rights. These are rights which are inseparable from a dignified human existence. The dignity of the individual, equality between human beings and the quest for liberty are the foundational pillars of the Indian Constitution.
319. Life and personal liberty are not creations of the Constitution. These rights are recognised by the Constitution as inhering in each individual as an intrinsic and inseparable part of the human element which dwells within.””
As a corollary, the Bench then observes that, “Upon examination of the aforesaid pronouncements by the Supreme Court, it is apparent that the guarantees envisaged by the Constitution of India in part (III) can be restricted or controlled only in accordance with provisions of aforesaid Articles constituted in part (III) itself. As such the power of locomotion is an essential element of personal liberty and detention in jail or in a police station is a drastic invasion of that liberty as held by Patanjali Sashtri J. in the case of A.K. Gopalan (supra).”
Most forthrightly and also most commendably, the Bench then minces no words to hold elegantly, eloquently and effectively that, “The Code of Criminal Procedure also prescribes the manner and procedure under which an investigation is to ensue subsequent to lodging of complaint. However there is no provision in either the constitution of India or even under the code of criminal procedure which prescribes a police official to summon and detain the person even without lodging of first information report and that too orally. Any such act by police personnel has to be seen in the context of right to personal liberty as envisaged under Article 21 and necessarily stipulates that a procedure which is fair, just and reasonable is required to be followed so that it does not encroach upon the life and personal liberty guaranteed under Articles 21 and 22 of the Constitution.”
Adding clarity, the Bench then states that, “As has already been held that invasion of life or personal liberty must be based on a valid law defined in terms of legitimate state and should be proportional to ensure a rational nexus between the object and means to achieve it.”
Most significantly, the Bench then minces no words to hold that, “The action taken by police personnel in the present case indicates clear flouting of the right guaranteed to the petitioners under Articles 14, 19, 21 and 22 of the Constitution since oral summoning of the petitioners and their subsequent detention in police station has been resorted to without even lodging of first information report. The State in its counter affidavit has not been able to explain any law under which such a procedure could have been followed particularly when the police personnel summoning the petitioners was not even the investigating officer of the case. Right of locomotion being an essential part of right to life and personal liberty can not be trifled with in such a casual manner merely being clothed with State authority. It is the bounden duty of State and its instrumentalities to be ever vigilant so that fundamental rights guaranteed under part (III) of the Constitution are not infringed, particularly without any authority of valid law which would have a deleterious effect on an ordered society.”
Most remarkably, the Bench then holds that, “In view of aforesaid, it would be necessary to direct the State and its instrumentalities that in case any application or complaint is given at any police station which requires investigation and presence of the accused then suitable course of action as prescribed under provisions of Criminal Procedure Code are to be followed which contemplate a written notice being served upon such a person but that too only consequent to a case being registered. In case there is no investigating officer at that juncture, the subordinate police officials are required to take permission/approval of the station incharge before issuing such notice or summons. On no account can an accused or any other person be summoned to a police station orally by subordinate police officials without the consent/approval of the station incharge. The life, liberty and dignity of any person can not be thrown to the winds merely on verbal orders of police officials. It is expected that State and its instrumentalities will be cautious in future with regard to observations and directions issued herein above.”
It is then added that, “With the aforesaid observations, this petition for habeas corpus is finally disposed of.”
Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding that, “Registry is directed to send a copy of this order to the Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Home, State of U.P. for taking appropriate action for ensuring compliance of aforesaid directions by the police.”
All told, the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court has come out most decisively in favour of upholding the fundamental and legal rights of the citizens for which it deserves to be lavishly applauded. It also made it indubitably clear that police also must respect them and not take them for granted. It was also made crystal clear that no one can be summoned to police station orally by subordinate police officials sans station incharge’s approval. This must be strictly followed by all the police men not just in UP but all over India because this is exactly what is in the interest of citizens and so also in the long term interest of our country as even State and its machinery which includes the police has no right to hold citizens right to ransom under any circumstances on one pretext or the other! The procedure as is prescribed in this case by the Court must always be implemented in totality.
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.
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Election Commission declares 253 RUPPs as inactive, bars them from availing benefits of the Symbol Order, 1968
Additional 86 Non-existent RUPPs shall be deleted from the list and benefits under the Symbols Order (1968) withdrawnAction against these 339 (86+253) non-compliant. RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022
In continuation of the earlier action initiated on May 25, 2022 for enforcing due compliances by Registered Unrecognized Political Parties (RUPPs), the Election Commission of India led by Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Shri Anup Chandra Pandey today further delisted 86 non-existent RUPPs and declared additional 253 as ‘Inactive RUPPs’. This action against 339 non-compliant RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022.
As per statutory requirements under section 29A of the RP Act, every political party has to communicate any change in its name, head office, office bearers, address, PAN to the Commission without delay. 86 RUPPs have been found to be non-existent either after a physical verification carried out by the respective Chief Electoral Officers of concerned States/UTs or based on report of undelivered letters/notices from Postal Authority sent to the registered address of concerned RUPP. It may be recalled that ECI had delisted 87 RUPPs and 111 RUPPs vide orders dated May 25, 2022 and June 20, 2022, thus totalling the number of delisted RUPPs to 284.
This decision against 253 non-compliant RUPPs has been taken based on reports received from Chief Electoral Officers of seven states namely Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana & Uttar Pradesh. These 253 RUPPs have been declared inactive, as they have not responded to the letter/notice delivered to them and have not contested a single election either to the General Assembly of a State or the Parliament Election 2014 & 2019. These RUPPs have failed to comply with statutory requirements for more than 16 compliance steps since 2015 and are continuing to default.
It is also noted that of the above 253 parties, 66 RUPPs actually applied for a common symbol as per para 10B of the Symbol’s Order 1968 and did not contest the respective elections. It is pertinent to note that privilege of a common symbol is given to RUPP based upon an undertaking for putting up at least 5 percent of total candidates with regard to said legislative assembly election of a State. Possibility of such parties occupying the available pre-election political space by taking benefits of admissible entitlements without contesting elections cannot be ruled out.
Coastal clean-up campaign receives a huge response: Dr. Jitendra Singh
The 75-day long ongoing Coastal Clean Up Campaign is receiving a huge response from across the sections of society and besides others, Governors, Chief Ministers, Union Ministers, celebrities, film and sports personalities, civil society groups etc. are joining the campaign with overwhelming enthusiasm and pledging their support to the longest and largest beach cleaning campaign in the world titled “Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar”, coordinated by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences with collaboration from all the other Union Ministries, departments as well as governments of the coastal States.
Addressing a press conference today, three days ahead of “International Coastal Clean-up Day” on 17th September, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said, he will join the campaign at Juhu beach in Mumbai on 17th September and informed that Governor Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan and several personalities as well as NGOs will also join at Juhu.
The Minister also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support through social media. The PM has stressed on keeping India’s coasts clean as he praised efforts of volunteers to remove garbage from the Juhu beach in Mumbai. Responding to a video posted by Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh about the clean-up at the beach, Modi tweeted, “Commendable… I appreciate all those involved in this effort. India is blessed with a long and beautiful coastline and it is important we focus on keeping our coasts clean”. The Minister said, “A cleanathon was organised at Juhu Beach in Mumbai, saw participation in large numbers especially by youngsters and Civil Society.
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will take a lead in the clean-up campaign at world famous Puri beach, while Pratap Chandra Sarangi, former union minister will be at Chandipur. BJP MP from Hooghly, West Bengal Ms Locket Chatterjee will be at Digha on D-Day. R.K.Mission head will lead the campaign at Bakkhali in southern Bengal.
Chief Minister of Gujarat Bhupendrabhai Patel will be at Porbandar (Madhavpur), while Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Parshottam Khodabhai Rupala will join the clean-up operation at Jafrabad, Amreli.
Governor of Goa P. S. Sreedharan Pillai and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant will take part in beach cleaning campaign in South and North Goa beaches on 17th September.
Similarly, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan will be at Kochi, while MoS External Affairs V. Muraleedharan will be at Kovalam beach at Thiruvananthapuram.
Governor of Karnataka Thawar Chand Gehlot will join the campaign at Panambur beach in Mangalore, while the Governor of Telangana, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan will lend her helping hand at Puducherry beach.
Governor of Mizoram Dr. K. Hari Babu will take part in Vizag beach while L. Murugan, Union MoS, Information and Broadcasting will join the event at Chennai
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that the campaign has entered the mode of whole of Government approach plus whole of nation participation.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, apart from active cooperation of Ministries of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Jal Shakti, Health and Family Welfare, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, External Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, organisations and associations like National Service Scheme (NSS), Indian Coast Guard, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Seema Jagran Manch, SFD, Paryavaran Sanrakshan Gatividhi (PSG), along with other social organizations and educational institutions are participating in the clean-up campaign.
The MPs of coastal states have also pledged full support to the first-of-its-kind and longest running coastal clean-up campaign in the world and they also advised the Ministry of Earth Sciences to undertake a variety of activities by involving local NGOs.
DASHBOARD TO BE SET UP SOON TO SHARE THE BEST TECH PRACTICES AMONG THE CENTRE & THE STATES: UNION MINISTER JITENDRA SINGH
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today announced setting up of a Dashboard to share the best technology practices among the Centre and the States.
Presiding over the concluding session of the two-day “Centre-State Science Conclave” at Science City in Ahmedabad, Dr Jitendra Singh informed that a high level mechanism will be developed by the Department of Science and Technology to monitor and coordinate the follow up action of the conclave. The Minister also asked the States to appoint a Nodal officer in each of the States to coordinate and cooperate with the Special Committee for knowing and sharing the best practices.
Giving the example of heli-borne technology launched from Jodhpur, Rajasthan in October, 2021, Dr Jitendra Singh said, to start with, the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana were taken up for this latest heli-borne survey.
The Minister pointed out that if the same technology is uploaded on Dashboard, other States may join and share this CSIR technology from source finding to water treatment and thus benefit millions of people across the country.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, it will also positively contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Har Ghar Nal Se Jal” as well as “doubling farmer’s income” goals. He said, the latest state-of-the-art technology is being employed by Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) for mapping groundwater sources in arid regions and thus help utilise groundwater for drinking purposes.
The 2-day ‘Centre-State Science Conclave’ was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Science City, Ahmedabad, yesterday. Dr Jitendra Singh expressed satisfaction that important plenary sessions with State S&T Ministers discussed in detail on issues like Agriculture, Innovation for producing portable drinking water including application of technologies like Desalination, Heli borne methods developed by DST, Clean Energy for All including S&T role in Hydrogen mission, Deep Sea Mission of MoES and its relevance for Coastal States/UT, Digital healthcare for All and Synergizing Science with National Education Policy.
A special session with the CEOs of over 100 Start-Ups and industry at the Centre-State Science Conclave’ in Ahmedabad came up with scientific solutions in the field of agriculture, drone, artificial intelligence, biotechnological solutions, single-use plastic alternates, irrigation and digital health amongst others.
Many of the State governments have shown keen interest in some of the technologies and agreed to partner with some of the startups for State-specific technological solutions.
Floods, economic crisis and political bickerings: A saga of Pakistan’s mismanagement & insensitivity
The worst floods in several decades have wreaked havoc in Pakistan, one of the most populous countries of South Asia. The floods have touched the country’s 220 million people’s lives directly or indirectly. More than 1,300 people have died with 81 out of 160 districts directly affected by the floods, leaving at least 33 million people homeless.
The heat waves followed by rains and glacial melting has been a global trend this year bringing out the stark reality that despite all talks and conventions, the world community has failed to contain and reverse climatic change. But Pakistan’s case is unique.
Beyond the human losses, the country’s economic managers have the most challenging task ahead as floods ravaged the country’s road and communication network, damaged an incalculable number of houses, and destroyed millions of hectares of crops.
Niaz Murtaza, a political economist, describes present crisis as “a triple whammy”, putting together economic, political and natural. “The poor had been suffering the first two months because of inflation, job loss and political paralysis. Now the floods have pushed millions into ruin,” he said.
Despite this, the political masters are not only busy in bickering and allegations against each other, but have also triggered a blame game on social media as usual, pointing fingers on India for the flood havoc. The bombardment of propaganda, nevertheless, cannot change the reality that Pakistan government and its institutions have utterly failed in fulfilling their duties towards its citizens.
Ludicrous as it is, it cannot absolve the leadership of Pakistan that has failed people in terms of economic mismanagement, entrenched corruption and naked cronyism in the system. Added to these are the wrong policies and priorities of Islamabad which have been instrumental in bringing economic crisis and political instability. The floods have only abetted it.
The natural disaster has struck Pakistan while economy is passing through the difficult phase of multiple challenges including Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis, heavy debt burden and solvency-related issues. The protracted economic crisis is likely to deepen further despite conclusion of talks with the IMF for release of Extended Fund Facility credit.
While Finance Minister Miftah Ismail estimates that the country has incurred a total loss of “at least $10 billion”, independent analysts, including Uzar Younus, Director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia centre and economist Ammar Habib Khan, put the figure between $15-20 billion, and expect it to rise further as information is coming with a great lag.
Existing infrastructure is collapsing with the flooding submerging one-third of the country, pushing 37 per cent of population into poverty. Pakistan is literally and figuratively under deep water, writes Nasir Jamal. It may take a few more months before the damages can be assessed. Even before the flooding, 60 per cent of the population was suffering from hunger, malnutrition and related diseases and the figures are bound to shoot up now.
In view of the mammoth loss, the IMF’s $1.2 billion credit now seems to be a peanut. Pakistan was earlier wounded and now it is bleeding. Floods will exacerbate the economic crisis that had shown initial signs of abating with the IMF deal. Twin deficits, growth prospects and inflationary expectations will be worsening, inflicting misery on the poor. Despite increasing gravity of the situation, saving people’s life and livelihood have not still become the priorities among the political class who are revealing in an ugly slugfest.
The real cost of the natural calamity is being borne by millions of poor kids, pregnant women, elderly and sick persons crowded under the open sky or tents, prone to hunger, diseases and insecurity as they wait for aid. It will be weeks before many can even return to their villages as the land drains and dries. It will take months, even years, to recover from the loss of housing, animals, crops and cultivable land.
Covid-19 had only disrupted economic exchange without damaging the economic base. But the flood has destroyed crops, land, animals, bridges, etc. negatively impacting deeper on the poor and the economy. And the insensitive political class in Pakistan is still deeply engrossed in political maneuver and cunning tricks against each other rather than presenting a united face at the time of calamity. That is the character of Pakistan’s politics.
In view of the contribution of agriculture to the extent of one fourth of the GDP, the country would have to face major revenue loss due to crop losses. As per the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s August 29 report, almost 80 per cent of crops in Sindh, which produces roughly 30% of Pakistan’s cotton output, were destroyed.
Close to 70 per cent of Pakistan’s textile industry, an important source of employment and foreign exchange, uses the cotton produced in the country. Floods are likely to cause severe shortage of cotton, said Abdul Rahim Nasir, Chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association. He added that instead of earlier average import of cotton estimated at about 4 million bales, Pakistan would now need to import just the double of that figure, at a potential cost of $3 billion.
Shahrukh Wani, an Oxford economist, says the flood will make it terribly difficult for the government to reduce the trade deficit because while the country will need to import food to “compensate” for lost crops, the textile sector will find itself struggling due to “potential shortage” of cotton crop.
The biting inflation which rose to 25% in the month of July from a year earlier, the highest since May 1975, is taking its own toll on the living conditions of masses. The flooding would further push up the inflation and accentuate the scarcity of even essentials.
Amreen Soorani, Head of Research at JS Global Capital Ltd, said that “the main concern from the floods is the impact on inflation”. Even the IMF warned that the runaway inflation could trigger protests and instability.
Islamabad secured funds from the IMF for immediate bailout of the economy from the saturating forex crisis. However, the problems would be far from over for Islamabad. As the advanced countries are focused more on the impact of Ukraine-Russia war and trying to cope with recessionary pressures while some of the development partners including Middle Eastern countries and China are down with donor fatigue, Islamabad has scant probability to get any major international relief.
For now, the immediate challenge that government will face is to fulfil the conditions of raising taxes and applying austerity measures as part of its agreement with the IMF for its bailout package. This might turn out a politically unpopular move and could flare up the political bickering. The condition is rife for mass protests in view of increasing cost of living for many months now, which opposition could take advantage of. Anger is rising across Pakistan over the slow pace of government relief efforts.
The catastrophic floods have put a downward pressure on growth prospectus. Initial estimates suggest that the economic growth rate may slow down to just 2 per cent. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that the recent floods caused more damage than the 2010 calamity wherein the economic losses had been estimated at $9.7 billion. The floods have already caused supply chain-related issues.
Even during natural calamity, politicians are concerned about their political agenda rather than allowing international aid agencies to import essential food items from the neighbouring country. Cases after cases of corruption are cropping up, “you reveal mine, I will reveal yours”, an unending slugfest continues.
Instead of fighting the fallout of the devastating natural calamity united, they are engrossed in manoeuvre and cunning tricks and a regressive thought process whether or not to allow aid flow from India. Some of the government top officials have suggested importing essential commodities such as food and medicine from India, while others are still the victim of the old rigidities and anti-India mindset.
India is an undoable reality of being the most potent vehicle of South Asia’s growth vision as it is a responsible regional power and the fastest growing economy of the world, which offers a big market for exports and sourcing imports. Islamabad needs to understand that cooperation with neighbours does not reduce the stature of a calamity hit country.
Separated in 1947, Sikh brother meets sister reunite
The Kartarpur Corridor has once again reunited another family after a man who separated from his parents when he was only a few months old in 1947, finally met his sister in Pakistan.
Amarjit Singh was left out in India along with his sister while his Muslim parents came to Pakistan. All eyes went teary as they saw the emotional scenes of the brother-sister reunion in Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Geo News reported.
Amarjit Singh arrived in Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa to meet his Muslim sister and to remain as her guest.
His sister, 65-year-old Kulsoom Akhtar, could not control her emotions after seeing Amarjit.
Both hugged each other and kept crying. She had travelled from her hometown in Faisalabad along with her son Shahzad Ahmed and other family members to meet her brother.
Kulsoom said that her parents came to Pakistan from the suburbs of the Jalandhar region of India in 1947, leaving behind her younger brother and a sister, Express Tribune reported.
Kulsoom said she was born in Pakistan and used to hear about her lost brother and a sister from her mother. She said that her mother used to cry every time whenever she remembered her missing children. Kulsoom said that she did not expect that she would ever be able to meet her brother and sister. However, a few years ago, a friend of her father Sardar Dara Singh came to Pakistan from India.
Kulsoom’s mother told Singh about her son and daughter she left behind in India. She also told him the name of their village and the location of their house in the neighbouring country.
Amarjit then visited her house in Padawan village of Jalandhar and informed her that her son was alive but her daughter was dead. Her son was named Amarjit Singh who was adopted by a Sikh family back then in 1947, The Express Tribune reported.
After getting the brother’s information, Amarjit and Kulsoom Akhtar contacted on WhatsApp and using the Kartarpur Corridor and the meeting between the two siblings became a reality.
Now an elderly man, Sardar Amarjit Singh came to Gurdwara Sahib in a wheelchair. Kulsoom Akhtar also could not travel due to back pain, but she showed courage and reached Kartarpur from Faisalabad along with her son. Both the siblings kept crying while embracing each other and remembering their parents.
Amarjit said that when he first learned that his real parents were in Pakistan and were Muslims, it was a shock to him. However, he comforted his heart that many families were separated from each other in addition to his own family.
Many Muslim children became Sikhs and many Sikh children became Muslims, Express Tribune reported.
He said that he always wanted to meet his real sister and brothers. He said that he is happy to know that three of his brothers are alive. However, one brother who was in Germany has passed away.
He said he will now come to Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa and spend time with his family. He also said that he will take his family to India as well so that they could meet their Sikh family. Both the siblings had brought many gifts for each other.
Shahzad Ahmad, son of Kulsoom, said that he used to hear about his uncle from his grandmother and mother. He said that all of the siblings were very young at the time of Partition and no name was given to Amarjit or perhaps, after so many years, the name had slipped out of mind.
“I understand that since my uncle was brought up by a Sikh family, he happens to be a Sikh, and my family and I have no problem with this,” he added.
Shahzad said that he is happy that even after 75 years his mother has found her lost brother.
22 officers of different cadres to serve in J&K
The Centre has relaxed Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) deputation rules to encourage IAS and other all-India service officers as well as those of the Central Services get posted in Jammu & Kashmir, in a bid to address the shortage of officers in the Union Territory.
Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said that due to relaxation of DoPT rules, 22 officers belonging to various services and different cadres have been posted in Jammu & Kashmir at various levels at a crucial time.
He said that DoPT has played a major role in facilitating induction of Jammu & Kashmir Administrative Services officers into the IAS by coordinating with UT administration, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the UPSC.
As a result, recently 16 officers from JKAS have been inducted into IAS and another 8 such vacancies will be filled up shortly giving opportunities to the JKAS officers to become part of prestigious IAS service after a long gap of 12 years.
The Minister added that mid-career training of JKAS officers of various seniority was carried out in collaboration with the LBSNAA and this has provided a new level of exposure to the JKAS Officers and more than 200 offices. Some other initiatives by the Ministry include special concessions or incentives to the Central government employees working in the Kashmir Valley in attached and subordinate offices or PSUs falling under control of the Central government.
They have been extended special concessions for a period of 3 years with effect from August 1, 2021 and the incentives include an additional house rent allowance, composite transfer grant, per diem allowance, incentive for period of temporary duty, messing allowance, and facility to draw pension at place of settlement in relaxation of relevant provisions.
Besides, facilities for retention of general pool accommodation available to officers who have served in the Central government has also been extended to officers posted in Jammu & Kashmir on the pattern of northeastern states.
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