While explicitly observing that it is not the law that bail should always be denied in a case where the offence punishable is of death or life imprisonment, the Karnataka High Court has as recently as on May 12, 2022 in a recent, refreshing, robust and rational judgment titled Nethra vs State of Karnataka in Criminal Petition No. 2306 of 2022 and cited in 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 169 granted bail to a woman accused of murdering her husband. A single Judge Bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna allowed the petition filed by one Nethra and granted her bail relying on Section 437 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). It must also be mentioned here that the Court made it clear that in terms of Section 437 of the CrPC, bail can be granted in a non-bailable offence on three circumstances as depicted in the proviso, (i) a person below 16 years of age, (ii) a woman and (iii) a person who is sick or infirm.
To start with, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by a single Judge Bench comprising of Justice M Nagaprasanna of Karnataka High Court sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “The petitioner is before this Court seeking enlargement on bail in C.C.No.252 of 2022 arising out of Crime No.530 of 2021 registered for offences punishable under Section 302, 120B and 34 of the IPC, it having been turned down by the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Bangalore Rural in Criminal Miscellaneous No.2009 of 2021, on 17.02.2022.”
To put things in perspective, the Bench then while briefly stating the facts envisages in para 3 that, “The facts in brief are as follows:-
The petitioner is accused No.1. It is the case of the prosecution that on 07-11-2021 at about 1.30 a.m., the complainant, father of the deceased registers a complaint for offences punishable under Section 302 of the IPC, which becomes a FIR in Crime No.530 of 2021. The complaint was that he had two daughters and a son who are all married and his two daughters are no more. His son Palar Swamy was into real estate business. He had two children from the wedlock. About 6 years ago his son Palar Swamy had married one Nethra, the petitioner herein allegedly without the knowledge of his family and had also a child from the said marriage. His son had set up a house in a different locality to reside with the petitioner and was also visiting the house of the complainant. Three years prior to the incident, the son Palar Swamy had purchased two acres of land and developed the same into sites. He had constructed a house in the said developed sites and was residing there with his alleged second wife – the petitioner. The purchase and decision to reside with the second wife became a subject matter of quarrel between the members of the family. It is the case of the complainant that on 06-11-2021, Palar Swamy came to the house of the complainant and had enquired about his health and on the same day, the complainant had tried to call Palar Swamy after 11 p.m. after his dinner but Palar Swamy had not answered the calls. Apprehending some problem for his son, the complainant goes to the house of Palar Swamy at about 12.10 (night) and found the door opened and the petitioner who was holding some weapon in her hand ran away seeing him. Later, the complainant finds his son lying dead on the bed in his room and his head was bleeding. This was narrated in the complaint and a case of murder was registered against the petitioner and one Vijay Kumar, son of petitioner’s sister. On registration of the crime, the petitioner was taken into judicial custody and is in the custody from 08-11-2021. On getting arrested, the petitioner moved an application for bail under Section 439 of the Cr.P.C. during the pendency of investigation itself. Bail application was not considered. The Police after investigation filed their final report/charge sheet on 25-01-2022. The application for bail was taken up later on 17.02.2022 and dismissed notwithstanding the fact that charge sheet had been filed in the matter on the ground that the offence committed was punishable with death or life imprisonment. Rejection of the application is what drives the petitioner to this Court in the subject petition.”
Needless to say, the Bench then observes in para 6 that, “I have given my anxious consideration to the submissions made by the respective learned counsel and peruse the material on record.”
It would be germane to note that the Bench then specifies in para 7 that, “The afore-quoted chain of events is not in dispute. The petitioner is the alleged second wife of the deceased as is also borne out from the records. Quarrel between the wife and the husband is also a matter that is on record. There are no eye witness to the incident is again borne out from the records. Therefore, it is a case where the prosecution has to prove the offence beyond all reasonable doubt, that the petitioner has actually committed murder of the deceased by a weapon. It is also the material on record that quarrel between the husband and the wife took place for the reason that the deceased had pestered the petitioner to have physical relationship with one of his friends in his office and further on 06-11-2021, when the petitioner had asked her husband with whom he was going to travel outside, the answer was that he was travelling with other girls, this again resulted in serious quarrel between the two and the result of quarrel appears to be the reason behind the gruesome act. It is also a matter of record that the petitioner herself went and surrendered before the Police.”
Briefly stated, the Bench then most remarkably after elaborating on Section 437 of CrPC goes on to state aptly in para 8 that, “In terms of Section 437 of the Cr.P.C. bail can be granted in a non-bailable offence on three circumstances as depicted in the proviso, (i) being a person below 16 years of age, (ii) a woman and (iii) is sick or infirm. The petitioner is a woman. She is entitled for consideration under Section 437 of the Cr.P.C. Before applying the aforesaid provision to the facts of the case and considering the case of the petitioner for enlargement on bail, it is germane to notice application of the said provision by coordinate Benches of this Court all in the case of offences punishable under Section 302 of the IPC and they being women. A coordinate Bench of this Court in KAVITHA v. STATE OF KARNATAKA – Crl.P.No.2509 of 2019 decided on 05-08-2019 has held as follows:
“2. The complainant by name Smt. Indirani lodged a complaint stating that, she had two sisters by name Parvathamma and Baby and three brothers by name Vijay Kumar, Subramani and Manjunath. The said Subramani was residing along with his brother Vijaya Kumar and his wife Smt. Kavitha along with another sister i.e., Baby and her two sons. The other brother Manjunath was residing along with his wife and children separately. In this background, it is alleged that, on 2-01-2019 at 2.00 p.m. the husband of the petitioner/accused by name Vijayakumar telephone to the husband of the complainant stating that the deceased Subramani is dead. Thereafter, all these persons came to the house of Vijayakumar and saw the dead body of the deceased Subramani and suspected his death. Hence, after the post-mortem examination they came to know that Subramani died due to asphyxia as a result of strangulation. On the basis of such information, the complainant lodged a complaint against the petitioner, which initially came to be registered in UDR No.2/2019 and thereafter in Crime No.5/2019 for the offences punishable under Section 302 of IPC and the police after thorough investigation, laid charge sheet against the petitioner/accused.
3. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that, there are many people residing in the said house. The entire case revolves around the voluntary statement of the petitioner/accused – Kavitha that, she informed her husband and others that she actually tried to wake him up but, he did not wake up and she noticed that he was dead. Therefore, the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that, actually the petitioner/accused has committed the murder of the deceased by strangulation. It is also not available in the charge sheet that actually what transpired on the particular date of incident and how many persons were present in the house. All those things to be thrashed out during the course of full dressed trial.
4. In the above facts and circumstances of the case, proviso to Section 432 Cr.P.C. would come to the help of the petitioner herein. Even at this stage, if the court comes to the conclusion that, a strong prima facie case is made out against a woman, still the court can exercise its discretion and it may enlarge a lady on bail with conditions. Though the petition is filed under Section 439 of Cr.P.C., the proviso to Section 437 can be equally made use of. The said proviso says that, even if there appears reasonable grounds for believing that the accused is guilty of the offences punishable with death or imprisonment for life, provided the Court may direct that the person referred to in Clause (i) or Clause (ii), be released on bail, if such person is under the age of sixteen years or is a woman or is sick or infirm. Therefore, in the above circumstances, in my opinion, as the petitioner/accused has been in jail since 5-01-2019 and the charge sheet has already been filed, she is entitled to be enlarged on bail during the trial, with certain condition………” (Emphasis supplied).
Long before the said judgment, the very learned Judge in RATNAWWA AND ANOTHER v. STATE OF KARNATAKA – Crl.P.No.100503 of 2014 decided on 13-03-2014, has held as follows:
“2.The petitioners, who are arrayed as accused Nos. 2 and 3 in Crime No.117 of 2013 of Kundgol Police have approached the Sessions Court, Hubli, for grant of bail, after filing of the charge sheet, which came to be rejected. Hence, petitioners are before this Court for grant of bail.
3. The brief factual aspects that emanate from records are that, a person by name Parameshappa Basappa Naikar has lodged a complaint stating that, on 6.10.2013 at about 5.30 p.m. he has received a telephonic message from his son-in-law by name Manjappa Ningappa Balanaikar of Betadur Village that the accused persons – petitioners and one Dyamanna have assaulted the deceased Basappa Shivappa Balanaikar with a spade. Immediately complainant went to the spot and saw the dead body and from one Ningappa Shivappa Balanaikar he came to know that Dyamanna has assaulted on the head of deceased with a spade. It is alleged that petitioners Ratnawwa and Neelawwa have instigated said Dyamanna to assault the deceased, who has succumbed to injuries on the spot. The Police have investigated the matter and even during the course of investigation the eye-witnesses have reiterated same set of facts. CW-8 Ningappa Shivappa Balanaikar, an eye-witness to the incident has stated that the petitioners were present at the time of incident and they have instigated or abetted Dyamanna to commit suit an offence. Looking to the above factual aspects, no overt act has been alleged against these petitioners. The learned Sessions Judge after considering the materials has observed that the petitioners are root cause for the incident and rejected the bail petition filed by petitioners. Police have filed charge sheet against the petitioners. Petitioners were arrested on 7-10-2013 and since then they are in judicial custody.
4. The proviso in Section 437 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as ‘Cr.P.C.’ for brevity) empowers the Court that even if the offences which are punishable with death or imprisonment for life or imprisonment for seven years or more, the Court may direct that such a person referred to in clause – (i) or (ii) of Section 437 of Cr.P.C. be released on bail, if it is satisfied that if such person is under the age of 16 years or is a woman or is sick or infirm. Therefore, it is a special proviso appended to Section 437 of Cr.P.C. particularly, considering the woman folk, sick and infirm persons and the persons, who are less than 16 years. When specific over acts are not there, the abetment has to be proved before the Court beyond all reasonable doubt and further that only on the basis of such abetment the other accused has committed such a ghastly incident. Hence, it is not necessary to keep the petitioners in jail. …..” (Emphasis supplied).
In a later judgment, another coordinate Bench of this Court in THIPPAMMA @ THIPPAKKA v. STATE OF KARNATAKA – Crl.P.No.8575 of 2017 decided on 01-03-2018, has held has follows:
“2. Respondent-Police has registered a complaint against the petitioner and another accused for the offences under Section 302 and 201 r/w 34 of IPC in Crime No.225 of 2016. The complaint was made by the son of the deceased. It appears that there was illicit relationship between accused Nos. 1 and 2 and the deceased came to know of this. It is alleged that in the background of illicit relationship, on 10-11-2016 in between 11.00 p.m. and 1.30 p.m. accused Nos. 1 and 2 caused death of Thippeswamy.
3. The learned counsel for the petitioner argues that there are no eye-witnesses to the incident. The prosecution has to prove the circumstances. Investigation has been completed and charge sheet is filed and other accused is released on bail. This petitioner is a woman and therefore, requires to be released on bail.
4. The HCGP opposes the grant of bail stating that there are prima facie materials although the entire case rests on circumstantial evidence.
5. Having perused the complaint and other materials, it can be said that since other accused has been released on bail, this petitioner being woman can also be released on bail. That apart, this case rests on circumstantial evidence. Burden is on the prosecution to prove every link in the chain of circumstances. Since charge sheet has been filed and that the petitioner has been in custody for quite a long time, she can be admitted to bail…….” (Emphasis supplied).
All the afore-quoted judgments rendered by the coordinate Benches of this Court, were considering the purport of Section 437 of the Cr.P.C. and were cases where accused No.1 therein were women and all of them alleged of offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC for commission of murder. It is also a matter of record that the alleged accomplice in the act of murder one Vijay Kumar is granted bail on 13-04-2022 by the learned Sessions Judge. For the aforesaid facts, the statute i.e., Section 437 of the Cr.P.C. and its application in the judgments of three coordinate Benches all would enure to the benefit of the petitioner to be enlarged on bail notwithstanding the fact that the offence alleged is under Section 302 of the IPC. It is not the law that bail should always be denied in a case where the offence punishable is of death or life imprisonment. In exceptional cases, if the statute permits and the facts not being so gory and grave criminal antecedents shrouding the culprit, the consideration in such cases would be different.”
Finally and far most significantly, the Bench then holds in para 9 that, “In my considered view, the facts in the case at hand are not those that would not entitle consideration of the case under Section 437 of the Cr.P.C. particularly, looking at the conduct of the petitioner for having surrendered before the Police on commission of the alleged murder. The petitioner has no criminal antecedents except the present sword hanging on the head, and on release would not be a threat to society, coupled with the fact that the police have completed the investigation and have filed the charge sheet at the case on hand. Wherefore, the following:
The criminal petition is allowed. The petitioner/accused No.1 Nethra shall be released on bail in connection with Crime No.530 of 2021 of Madanayakanahalli Police Station and pending before the Additional Civil Judge (Junior Division) and JMFC Court, Nelamangala, Bangalore Rural District subject to the following conditions:
(i) The petitioner shall execute a personal bond for a sum of Rs.2,00,000/- (Rupees two lakhs only) with one surety for the like sum to the satisfaction of the jurisdictional Court.”
(ii) The petitioner shall not indulge in tampering the prosecution witnesses.
(iii) The petitioner shall appear before the jurisdictional Court on all future hearing dates unless exempted by the Court for any genuine cause.
(iv) The petitioner shall not leave the jurisdiction of the trial Court without prior permission of the Court till the case registered against her is disposed of.
The observations made above are only for the purpose of consideration of the application for bail and the same shall not in any manner influence the trial. The trial Court shall consider the case on its merits and without being influenced by this order.”
In sum, it must be underscored that Justice M Nagaprasanna of Karnataka High Court has in this learned, laudable and landmark judgment made it crystal clear that women can definitely be granted bail even in non-bailable offences and even if it is punishable with life sentence/death. But the Court has simultaneously also made it indubitably clear that before granting bail, the Court must definitely take into account the conduct of the petitioner, her past track record, whether she poses a real threat to society if released on bail and all other necessary factors as stated herein aforesaid! It definitely merits no reiteration that all the Courts in similar such cases must always unfailingly and unflinchingly abide by what the Karnataka High Court has laid down so very commendably in this leading case!
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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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