HC RESTRAINS HUSBAND FROM PURSUING MATRIMONIAL CASE IN CANADA DURING PENDENCY OF DIVORCE PETITION FILED BY WIFE IN INDIA - Business Guardian
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HC RESTRAINS HUSBAND FROM PURSUING MATRIMONIAL CASE IN CANADA DURING PENDENCY OF DIVORCE PETITION FILED BY WIFE IN INDIA

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It is in the fitness of things that the Delhi High Court in a learned, laudable, landmark and latest judgment titled Damini Manchanda v. Avinash Bhambhani in CS(OS) 13/2022 and cited in 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 636 pronounced just recently on July 8, 2022 has taken a serious view of a case wherein the husband deliberately avoided service in the divorce proceedings filed by his wife in India, refused to appear before the Court here and filed a separate divorce case in a Canadian court. The Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Justice Amit Bansal passed an interim injunction against the husband restraining him from proceeding with the divorce suit filed by him before the Canadian Court. The Court was dealing with an application filed by the wife seeking an interim order restraining the defendant husband from proceeding with the divorce petition filed by him before the Canadian Court.

I.A. 566/2022 (O-XXXIX R-1 & 2 of CPC)

At the outset, this brief, brilliant and balanced oral judgment delivered by a Single Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising of Hon’ble Justice Amit Bansal sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “The present application was filed on behalf of the plaintiff seeking interim order restraining the defendant from proceeding with the divorce petition filed by him before the Superior Court of Justice, Ontario, Toronto, Canada (Canadian Court).”

To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages in para 2 that, “It is the case of the plaintiff that the plaintiff has filed a divorce petition against the defendant before the Family Court, Saket, New Delhi on 16th December, 2020, which has been pending for over a year and the defendant has avoided service in the said matter. In order to harass the plaintiff, the defendant filed a divorce case in Canada on 13th December, 2021.”

Simply put, the Bench then states in para 3 that, “The aforesaid application came up before the Predecessor Bench on 12th January, 2022, when summons in the suit and notice in the present application were issued to the defendant. However, no ex parte interim injunction was granted at that stage.”

Be it noted, the Bench then observes in para 4 that, “The relevant observations by the Court on 12th January, 2022 are set out below: ―

8. Ms. Preeti Singh, learned counsel for the plaintiff, has submitted that urgent interim directions are required to be issued in this case. It is submitted that the parties stand in the relationship of husband and wife. Due to matrimonial disputes, the plaintiff had instituted proceedings for divorce by filing a case on 16th December, 2020 against the defendant, which is pending before the Family Court, Saket, New Delhi. Though summons were issued in that suit on 25th February, 2021, apparently, the defendant had not yet appeared before the learned Family Court either himself or through a pleader. It is further submitted that the defendant was, at that time, residing in India and also responded to a legal notice issued by the plaintiff, on 10th February, 2021 through a lawyer whose office is also in New Delhi. In that reply, the address of the defendant was affirmed to be E-28, Neb Valley, Sainik Farms, New Delhi-110068. It is submitted that, however, in September, 2021, the defendant shifted with his children to Toronto, Canada. Thereafter, on 13th December, 2021, he is stated to have filed a divorce case against the plaintiff in a court there.

9. Learned counsel for the plaintiff submits that permitting the continuation of the suit filed by the defendant before the Superior Court of Justice, Ontario, Toronto, Canada, would only lead to multiplicity of the proceedings as well as ambiguity. The learned counsel submitted that prejudice was being caused to the plaintiff inasmuch as she had opted for the jurisdiction of the Indian court first and it was only a year later that defendant had instituted the divorce proceedings in Canada. The learned counsel stressed that the larger issue was ambiguity inasmuch as the two courts could render conflicting decisions. Reliance has been placed on the judgment of this court in Harmeeta Singh v. Rajat Taneja, 2003 SCC OnLine Del 60 to submit that this Court had the jurisdiction to stay the proceedings before the court in Canada.

10. Having heard learned counsel in detail and considered the material placed on the record, this Court is of the view that no prima facie case has been disclosed for this Court to exercise its discretion in her favour to restrain the defendant from continuing with the divorce proceedings pending before the Superior Court of Justice, Ontario, Toronto, Canada.

11. It is to be noticed that though it was submitted by the learned counsel for the plaintiff that the parties are Indians and were married as per Hindu rites, at the time the plaintiff chose to file the divorce petition, she was residing in Canada i.e., 1166, Mcbride Avenue, Mississaunga Onatro, L5C 1M8, Canada. Interestingly, in the ‘Memo of Parties’, while the plaintiff is described as ‘D/o Om Prakash Manchanda, R/o. E-28, Neb Valley, Neb Sarai, Sainik Farm, New Delhi-110068’, it is also stated as “presently residing at 1166, Mcbride Avenue, Mississaunga Onatro, L5C 1M8, Canada”. Despite the averments in the plaint that the defendant has left for Canada and was presently residing there, the plaintiff has given the Delhi address i.e., E-28, Neb Valley, Sainik Farms, New Delhi-110068, again adding, presently at 2913-233 WEBB DR, Mississauga on L5B 0E8, Canada. In other words, presently both parties are residing in Canada and none of them is in India. Unlike in the case of Harmeeta Singh (supra), where the appellant Harmeeta Singh was found to have no possibility of attending the hearing in the USA on account of Visa problems, no such situation prevails here. The plaintiff is well situated to take care of her interests.

12. No ground is made out for grant of interim injunction at this stage.”

Needless to say, the Bench then mentions in para 5 that, “The aforesaid order was taken up in an appeal by the plaintiff.”

As we see, the Bench then discloses in para 6 that, “The Division Bench vide order dated 18th January, 2022 was pleased to dismiss the appeal filed on behalf of the plaintiff against order dated 12th January, 2022. The extract of the observations made by the Division Bench are set out hereinafter:

“3. It appears that the parties are having a matrimonial dispute. The appellant-wife first instituted the divorce proceeding before the Family Court, Saket, New Delhi. That proceeding was instituted on 16.12.2020.

4. The case of the appellant is that the respondent failed to appear before the Family Court and proceeded to Canada with the children, and, thereafter instituted the divorce proceedings in the Canadian court as aforesaid. In the aforesaid background, the appellant/plaintiff sought anti suit injunction against the respondent/defendant from proceeding with the divorce proceedings in Canada.

5. The learned Single Judge has noticed that both the parties are residing in Canada. Even in the divorce petition filed by the appellant/plaintiff, she has disclosed that at the time of filing of the same, she was residing in Canada. In response to our query, learned counsel for the appellant states that the parties were in Canada since the year 2018. It appears that they came to India for some time. Thereafter, both have returned to Canada.

6. In the aforesaid background, the learned Single Judge has not considered it appropriate to pass an ex parte, ad interim order of injunction to restrain the respondent/defendant from proceeding with his divorce petition.

7. The submission of learned counsel for the appellant is that the respondent/defendant may, in the meantime, obtain a decree for divorce from the Canadian court.

8. We have heard learned counsel for the appellant and perused the impugned order, as well as the documents placed on record, and we are not inclined to interfere with the impugned order, since the same is an ex parte, ad interim order. The application seeking injunction against the respondent/defendant i.e., LA. No. 566/2022 is still pending consideration, and has not yet been disposed of.

9. The submission that the Canadian Court may proceed to decide the divorce petition filed before it does not impress us, for the reason, that both the parties have filed their respective petitions for divorce. It is not that the appellant is opposing grant of divorce, and wishes to preserve the matrimonial relationship.

10. The submission that the appellant-wife may lose out in the matter of grant of maintenance and permanent alimony, also does not impress us, since those are aspects, which are to be considered by the competent courts- whether in Canada or in India.””

As we see, the Bench then reveals in para 7 that, “Subsequently, an application for early hearing, being I.A. No.9507/2022, was filed on behalf of the plaintiff. Annexed thereto, was a ‘Case Conference Brief’ (Brief) filed on behalf of the defendant before the Canadian Court. Paragraph 8 of the said Brief is set out below:

“8. On January 12, 2022, Justice Asha Menon made a decision in the High Court of Delhi. This decision is attached at Tab A. At para 10, her honour states: “ … this Court is of the view that no prima facie case has been disclosed for this Court to exercise its discretion in her favour to restrain the defendant from continuing with the divorce proceedings pending before the Superior Court of Justice, Ontario, Toronto, Canada.” Justice Menon did not find grounds to grant an injunction against the Applicant continuing litigation in Ontario. The Indian court did not assume jurisdiction of this matter, and Her Honour further comments that both parties reside in Canada and are well situated to take care of their interests there.””‖

It is a no-brainer that the Bench then lays bare in para 8 that, “A perusal of the aforesaid paragraph clearly suggests that the defendant is well aware of the present proceedings and despite that, he has deliberately chosen not to appear before this Court.”

To be sure, the Bench then specifies in para 9 that, “Along with the said aforesaid Brief, opinion of the Indian advocate of the defendant has been attached, wherein it has been stated that the application filed on behalf of the plaintiff seeking to restrain the defendant from proceeding further in the divorce case in Canada was dismissed. The relevant part of the opinion is extracted below: ―

“A perusal of both the orders reveal that the Ld. Single Judge as well as the Ld. Division Bench of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court noticed the pendency of the divorce proceedings initiated by Mrs. Damini Manchanda and keeping in view of the fact that the Divorce Proceedings were pending, the Applications filed by Mrs. Damini Manchanda seeking to restrain Mr. Avinash Bhambhani from proceeding with his case in Canada was dismissed.””

For sake of clarity, the Bench then notes in para 10 that, “This is clearly an erroneous statement issued by the advocate of the defendant. Records of the case show that though the Court did not grant exparte ad interim injunction on 12th January, 2022, the application was not dismissed by this Court and notice was issued to the defendant. In fact, this very application is now being considered by me. Even the Division Bench of this Court while dismissing the appeal filed on behalf of the plaintiff had made the following observations:

“11. Therefore, we dismiss this appeal. However, we make it clear that the observations made by us aforesaid, have been made only for the purpose of dealing with the present appeal, and the same shall not come in the way of the appellant in pursuing her suit and LA. No. 566/2022, and the learned Single Judge would not be influenced by our observations while deciding, either the interim application or the suit.””

It would be instructive to note that the Bench then minces no words to hold forthright in para 11 that, “In the abovesaid legal opinion, the above paragraph from the order of the Division Bench has been selectively quoted in a manner to justify the legal opinion. The underlined portions of the order have been significantly omitted in the legal opinion. This Court is shocked that a counsel practicing in India has given such an opinion which is completely contrary to the record of the case and that too by misquoting and selectively quoting the observations made by the Division Bench of this Court.”

Furthermore, the Bench then states in para 12 that, “Counsel for the plaintiff has relied upon the judgment of the Supreme Court in Madhavendra L Bhatnagar V. Bhavna Lall, (2021) 2 SCC 775 to submit that the Indian Courts can pass an anti-suit injunction order against the defendant pursuing matrimonial proceedings before a Foreign Court when matrimonial proceedings have also been filed before competent courts in India.”

In the context of this ruling, the Bench then lays bare in para 13 that, “The relevant observations of the Supreme Court in the aforesaid judgment are set out below: ―

“6. In view of this observation, the appellant apprehends that some drastic order is likely to be passed by the Superior Court of Arizona at the instance of respondent–wife. Notably, the respondent is bent upon precipitating the matter before the court at Arizona, despite the appellant having resorted to proceedings for divorce as well as custody of the minor child in India before the Court at Bhopal in the State of Madhya Pradesh. Those proceedings are still pending, where the respondent has had entered appearance after the subject application was moved by the appellant.‖

****

10. Accordingly, we have no hesitation in setting aside the impugned decisions and to grant interim relief as prayed in the application filed before the Court at Bhopal as reproduced above, including to restrain the respondent from proceeding with the pending suit instituted by her in the Superior Court of Arizona or to file any other proceedings, including interim application(s) in any proceedings hereafter (except in the proceedings pending in Court at Bhopal) until further orders to be passed by the Court at Bhopal.

11. During the hearing, a disconcerting aspect has been brought to our notice by the counsel for the appellant. In the communication or response given by the respondent in reference to the service of notice issued by this court in the present appeal, it has been asserted by the respondent that her Attorney in India had advised her that the appeal pending before this court will not succeed at all. We fail to understand as to how an advocate appearing in the matter or instructing the litigant who is party before the Supreme Court of India would be in a position to prejudge the outcome of the proceedings or if we may say so speculate about the outcome thereof. Prima facie, this, in our opinion, is bordering on professional misconduct and needs to be proceeded with.”

There can be no gainsaying that the Bench then rightly states in para 14 that, “The above quoted observations of the Supreme Court would be fully applicable in the present case. In the present case also, the defendant, while avoiding service in the divorce proceedings filed in India and in the present suit, has precipitated the divorce case before the Canadian Courts. Further, in the present case also, the defendant has filed a legal opinion before the Canadian Courts, which is ex facie erroneous and contrary to the records of the present case.”

Quite ostensibly, the Bench then observes in para 15 that, “It is also clear from the Brief filed on behalf of the plaintiff that the defendant is well aware of the present proceedings and despite that, has chosen not to appear before this Court. As per the record of the Registry, summons in the suit and notice in the application have also been issued to the defendant through email and WhatsApp. An affidavit of service has also been filed on behalf of the plaintiff stating that the summons as well as the notice in the application has been sent to the defendant by way of email.”

What’s more, the Bench then states in para 16 that, “In the present case, the divorce petition in India was filed on behalf of the plaintiff on 16th December, 2020 and notice was issued to the defendant on 25th February, 2021. At that point of time, the defendant was residing in India. It has been stated on behalf of the defendant in the Brief that the defendant left India for Canada along with the children only in September, 2021 and immediately thereupon, filed a divorce petition in Canada.”

It cannot be glossed over that the Bench then notes in para 17 that, “The notice was served on the defendant at the same address that was given in the reply dated 10th February, 2021 sent on behalf of the defendant’s advocate to a legal notice sent by the plaintiff’s advocate. However, the defendant managed to avoid service in the divorce petition before the Saket Court, New Delhi. Defendant has not been appearing for the divorce petition filed on behalf of the plaintiff in India.”

As a corollary, the Bench then mentions in para 18 that, “It is clear from the above, that the defendant has deliberately avoided service in the divorce petition in order to file divorce case before the Canadian Courts. Perhaps, the defendant believed that the matrimonial laws in Canada would be more advantageous to him as compared to the Indian law.”

Quite frankly, the Bench then observes in para 19 that, “Admittedly, the plaintiff and the defendant were married as per Hindu rites and ceremonies in New Delhi on 21st December, 2002 and continued to reside in Delhi till April, 2018. Therefore, it cannot be denied that the Family Courts in Delhi would have the jurisdiction to entertain the divorce case.”

It is worth noting that the Bench then underscores in para 20 that, “The Court takes a serious view of the matter that the defendant has deliberately avoided service in the divorce proceedings in India, but continues to pursue the divorce case filed by him before the Canadian Court. Despite service in the present matter and being aware of the present proceedings, the defendant refuses to appear before this Court.”

While citing the relevant case law, the Bench then observes in para 21 that, “The Supreme Court in Modi Entertainment Network and Another V. W.S.G. Cricket Pte. Ltd., (2003) 4 SCC 341, has laid down, inter alia, the following principles for grant of anti-suit injunction:

“24. From the above discussion the following principles emerge:

(1) In exercising discretion to grant an anti-suit injunction the court must be satisfied of the following aspects:

(a) the defendant, against whom injunction is sought, is amenable to the personal jurisdiction of the court;

(b) if the injunction is declined, the ends of justice will be defeated and injustice will be perpetuated; and

(c) the principle of comity — respect for the court in which the commencement or continuance of action/proceeding is sought to be restrained — must be borne in mind.”

Quite analytically, the Bench then holds in para 22 that, “Applying the aforesaid principles to the facts of the present case, the defendant is amenable to jurisdiction of this court. Further, in my view, ends of justice will be defeated if the anti-suit injunction is not granted. The defendant has deliberately chosen not to appear in the present proceedings as well as the divorce proceedings filed on behalf of the plaintiff in India and at the same time pursuing the divorce proceedings before the Canadian Courts.”

Quite forthrightly, the Bench then observes in para 23 that, “A prima facie case is made out on behalf of the plaintiff. Balance of convenience is in favour of the plaintiff and against the defendant. The multiplicity of divorce proceedings before the Courts in India and Canada could result in conflicting decisions.”

Quite naturally, the Bench then holds in para 24 that, “Accordingly, an interim injunction is passed against the defendant restraining the defendant from proceeding with the divorce suit filed by him before the Superior Court of Justice, Ontario, Toronto, Canada.”

It is then held in para 25 that, “Accordingly, the application stands disposed of.”

I.A. 7958/2022 (u/S 151 of CPC)

No doubt, the Bench then rightly directs in para 26 that, “In view of the orders passed above, no orders are required to be passed in the present application.”

CS(OS) 13/2022 ‖

It would be germane to note that the Bench then directs in para 28 that, “In view of the discussion above, the defendant is deemed to be served. Since he has failed to enter appearance, he is proceeded against ex-parte.”

Finally, the Bench then aptly concludes by holding in para 29 that, “List before the Joint Registrar for further proceedings on 12th September, 2022.”

In sum, we thus see that the Delhi High Court very rightly restrains the husband from pursuing the matrimonial case in Canada during pendency of divorce petition filed by wife in India. We thus see that the Court takes a very serious view of the matter that the defendant has deliberately avoided service in the divorce proceedings in India, but continues to pursue the divorce case filed by him before the Canadian Court. We thus see that the defendant is rightly restrained by the Delhi High Court from proceeding with the divorce suit that was filed by him before the Superior Court of Justice, Ontario, Toronto, Canada. No denying it!

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate

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Policy&Politics

Election Commission declares 253 RUPPs as inactive, bars them from availing benefits of the Symbol Order, 1968

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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.

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Coastal clean-up campaign receives a huge response: Dr. Jitendra Singh

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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.

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DASHBOARD TO BE SET UP SOON TO SHARE THE BEST TECH PRACTICES AMONG THE CENTRE & THE STATES: UNION MINISTER JITENDRA SINGH

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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.

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Floods, economic crisis and political bickerings: A saga of Pakistan’s mismanagement & insensitivity

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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.

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Separated in 1947, Sikh brother meets sister reunite

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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.

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22 officers of different cadres to serve in J&K

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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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