While setting the record entirely straight, the Kerala High Court has in an extremely laudable, landmark, learned and latest judgment titled Godson v. State of Kerala & Ors. in Crl. MC Nos. 2807 & 2814 of 2022 [Against the order dated 24.2.2022 in Crl.M.P.No.249/2022 IN Crl.M.C.No.197/2018 on the file of the IInd Additional Sessions Court, Ernakulam] and cited in 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 425 pronounced as recently as on August 10, 2022 made it absolutely clear that non-compliance with the bail conditions alone is not a ground to cancel the bail already granted to the accused since such cancellation affects the personal liberty of a person under Article 21 of the Constitution. We all fully know that the personal liberty of a citizen is accorded the paramount importance under Article 21 which is a fundamental right also of every citizen of India! It deserves noting that the Single Judge Bench of Justice A.A. Ziyad Rahman minced just no words to clarify that while considering an application to cancel the bail on the ground of non-compliance with the conditions, the court has to consider the question of whether the alleged violation amounts to an attempt to interfere with the administration of justice or as to whether it affects the trial of the case in which the accused is implicated. Very rightly so!
At the outset, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by a Single Judge Bench of the Kerala High Court comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice A.A. Ziyad Rahman sets the pitch in motion by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “The petitioners are the accused in Crime No.160/2018 of Kalady Police Station. The petitioner in Crl.M.C No.2814/2022 is the 1st accused and the petitioner in Crl.M.C. No.2807/22 is the 2nd accused in the said crime. The aforesaid crime was registered alleging offences punishable under Sections 341,308 and 324 r/w. Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).”
To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages in para 2 that, “The petitioners were arrested in connection with the said case and later, as per order dated 9.2.2018 in Crl.M.C.No.197/2018, the 2nd Additional Sessions Court, Ernakulam, granted bail to them subject to certain conditions. One of the conditions was that they should not involve in any other crime of similar nature during the bail period. Subsequently, the investigation in the said case is completed, and the final report has been submitted.”
While continuing in the same vein, the Bench then observes in para 3 that, “Later, Crl.M.P.Nos.249/2022 and 247/2022 were submitted by the Public Prosecutor for cancellation of their bail. The sole reason highlighted in the said petition is that both the petitioners are subsequently involved in Crime No.1159/2021 of Kuruppampady Police Station, which was registered for the offences punishable under Sections 143,147,308,324,506(ii)and 294(b) r/w. Section 149 of IPC. The learned Sessions Judge, as per orders dated 24.2.2022 allowed the said applications after hearing the petitioners and thereby, the bail granted to them was cancelled. These orders are now under challenge in this Crl.M.Cs.”
It is worth noting that the Bench enunciates in para 7 that, “The conditions to be imposed while granting bail, are contemplated under Sections 437(3) r/w. Section 439(1)(a) of Cr.PC. The condition not to involve in similar offences during the bail period is something which is specifically stipulated in the aforesaid provision. Since such a condition is specifically mentioned in the statute, that would indicate the importance of such condition and the necessity to insist on the compliance of the same. However, the question that arises here is whether a violation of the said condition should result in the cancellation of the bail in all the cases. In my view, merely because of the reason that such a condition was imposed while granting bail to the accused, that would not result in the cancellation of bail automatically. This is particularly because, since the order of cancellation of bail is something that affects the personal liberty of a person, which is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, unless there are reasons justifying or warranting such an order, the bail already granted cannot be cancelled. In Dolat Ram and Others v. State of Haryana [(1995)1 SCC 349], the Hon’ble Supreme Court has observed as follows:
“5. Rejection of bail in a non – bailable case at the initial stage and the cancellation of bail so granted, have to be considered and dealt with on different basis. Very cogent and overwhelming circumstances are necessary for an order directing the cancellation of the bail, already granted. Generally speaking, the grounds for cancellation of bail, broadly (illustrative and not exhaustive) are : interference or attempt to. interfere with the due course of administration of justice or evasion or attempt to evade the due course of justice or abuse of the concession granted to the accused in any manner. The satisfaction of the Court, on the basis of material placed on the record of the possibility of the accused absconding is yet another reason justifying the cancellation of bail. However, bail once granted should not be cancelled in a mechanical manner without considering whether any supervening circumstances have rendered it no longer conducive to a fair trial to allow the accused to retain his freedom by enjoying the concession of bail during the trial. These principles, it appears, were lost sight of by the High Court when it decided to cancel the bail, already granted. The High Court it appears to us overlooked the distinction of the factors relevant for rejecting bail in a non – bailable case in the first instance and the cancellation of bail already granted.”
The aforesaid view was reiterated in X v. State of Telangana and Another reported in [(2018) 16 SCC 511].”
Most remarkably, the Bench then observes in para 8 that, “In Dataram Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh [(2018)3 SCC 22], it was observed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the manner as follows:
“It is also relevant to note that there is difference between yardsticks for cancellation of bail and appeal against the order granting bail. Very cogent and overwhelming circumstances are necessary for an order directing the cancellation of bail already granted. Generally speaking, the grounds for cancellation of bail are, interference or attempt to interfere with the due course of administration of justice or evasion or attempt to evade the due course of justice or abuse of the concessions granted to the accused in any manner. These are all only few illustrative materials. The satisfaction of the Court on the basis of the materials placed on record of the possibility of the accused absconding is another reason justifying the cancellation of bail. In other words, bail once granted should not be cancelled in a mechanical manner without considering whether any supervening circumstances have rendered it no longer conducive to a fair trial to allow the accused to retain his freedom by enjoying the concession of bail during the trial.”
Therefore, while considering an application to cancel the bail on the ground of non compliance of the conditions, the court has to consider the question whether the alleged violation amounts to an attempt to interfere with the administration of justice or as to whether it affects the trial of the case in which the accused is implicated. In XI, Victim SC No.211 of 2018 of POCSO Court v. State of Kerala and Others [2019(3)KHC 26], this Court laid down the principles with regard to the nature of the enquiry to be conducted by the court concerned, while considering an application for cancellation of bail. In paragraph 9 of the said judgment, it was observed as follows: “9. But in a case where the victim or the witnesses specifically complains of threat and intimidation and the said aspects are projected either by victim or by the prosecution before the Bail Court through an application as referred to in Ext.P- 5, then it is bounden duty of the Bail Court to consider the correctness or otherwise of the allegations in a summary manner after affording an opportunity of being heard to the prosecution as well as to the affected accused concerned whose bail is ought to be cancelled and if possible to the victim as well, in a case like this. In such process of enquiry, the Bail Court could call for the records if any in relation to those allegations and if a separate crime has been registered in that regard, the records in those crimes should also be perused by the Bail Court in order to make an enquiry in a summary manner as to the truth or otherwise of the allegations therein, and after affording reasonable opportunity of being heard to the prosecution, accused and the victim, the Bail Court is expected to discharge its solemn duty and function to decide on the correctness or otherwise of the allegations in such a summary manner and the evidentiary assessment thereof could be on the basis of the overall attendant circumstances as well as the attendant balance of probabilities of the case. Based on such a process, the Bail Court is obliged to take a decision whether the bail conditions have been so violated and if it is so found that the bail conditions has been violated then it is the duty of the Bail Court to cancel the bail, but certainly after hearing the affected party as aforestated. So also, if the said enquiry process reveals that the truth of the above said allegations has not been established in a convincing manner in such enquiry process, then the Bail Court is to dismiss the application to cancel the bail. But the Bail Court cannot evade from the responsibility by taking up the specious plea that since the very same allegations also form subject matter of a distinct crime then the truth or otherwise of the allegations is to be decided by the Criminal Court which is seisin of that crime through the process of finalisation of said impugned criminal proceedings by the conduct and completion of trial therein.”
Thus, from all the above decisions, it is evident that, mere violation of the condition alone is not sufficient to cancel the bail granted by the court. Before taking a decision, the court has to conduct a summary inquiry based on the records, including the documents relating to the subsequent crime and arrive at a conclusion as to whether it is necessary to cancel the bail or not. Therefore, the orders impugned in these cases are to be considered by applying the yardstick as mentioned above.”
Be it noted, the Bench notes in para 9 that, “When coming back to the facts of this case, it can be seen that the petitioners are seen implicated in the offences under Sections 341,308,324 r/w. Section 34 of the IPC, in a crime registered in the year 2018. They were granted bail on 9.2.2018, subject to the above conditions. Now the present application is submitted in the year 2022 on the allegation that the petitioners are involved in a crime committed in the year 2021. The fact remains that in both cases, final reports were already submitted by the Police. In the subsequent crime also, the petitioners were granted bail even after taking into consideration the criminal antecedents of the petitioners. Therefore, custody of the petitioners is not required to conduct the trial of the said cases. The allegations in the subsequent crime are not relating to an act which was allegedly committed by the petitioners with the intention to intimidate or influence any witnesses in the crime registered in the year, 2018. Both crimes are entirely different and have no connection with each other.”
While adding clarity, the Bench then specifies in para 10 that, “In my view, even though the court which granted the bail is empowered to direct the arrest of the petitioners who were already released on bail by virtue of the powers conferred upon the court as per Section 437(5) and 439(2) of Cr.PC, such power has to be exercised only if it is absolutely necessary. Of course, if the subsequent crime is allegedly committed with the intention to influence or intimidate the witnesses, the consideration should have been different, but it is not the case here. In Dataram Singh’s case, it was categorically observed that, bail once granted, cannot be cancelled without considering whether any supervening circumstances have rendered it no longer conducive to a fair trial to allow the accused to retain his freedom by enjoying the concession of bail during the trial.”
Most significantly, what constitutes the cornerstone of this notable judgment is then encapsulated in para 11 wherein it is postulated that, “While considering the alleged involvement of the petitioners in the subsequent crime for cancellation of bail, the fact that the second crime is after three years of the earlier crime is also a relevant aspect. The petitioners are indeed involved in some other cases, and one of the petitioners is already undergone preventive detention under KAA(P)A. However, that alone cannot be a reason to cancel the bail, unless it is shown that the involvement of the petitioners in the subsequent crime is affecting the trial of the earlier case. If the prosecuting agency is concerned with the commission of repeated offences by the accused persons, there are ample statutory provisions available for them to initiate appropriate proceedings for subjecting the accused persons to preventive detention. The stipulations contained in Section 437(5) and 439(2) of Cr.PC cannot be treated as a substitute for preventive detention laws. The legislature has brought into force, various enactments to enable the authorities concerned to keep the persons involved in repeated crimes under preventive detention, despite the stipulations in 437(5) and 439(2) of Cr.P.C. The said fact fortifies the view which I have taken as above. Moreover, there are no provisions in Cr.PC which specifically deal with the cancellation of bail and instead, the power is given to the court as per sections 437(5) and 439(2) to direct the person already released on bail, to be arrested and committed to prison, if it considers necessary to do so. When the court orders the arrest of a person already released on bail, it would have the effect of cancellation of the bail. Therefore what is relevant is not a mere violation of the bail condition but the satisfaction of the court that ‘it is necessary to do so’. While considering the aforesaid question, the matters such as; the time gap between the crimes, the possibility of false accusation in the subsequent case, bail granted to the accused in the subsequent crime, stage of the prosecution of the case in which cancellation of bail is sought, chances of affecting or causing interference in the fair trial of the case, etc. could be relevant. In some cases, the commission of heinous crimes repeatedly, in such a manner as to infuse fear in the mind of the witnesses, which may deter them from deposing against the accused, may also be relevant, as it is something which affects the conduct of the fair trial. However, no hard and fast rules can be laid down in respect of the same, and it differs from case to case. As held in the case of XI, Victim SC No.211 of 2018 of POCSO Court (supra), the court has to conduct a summary enquiry after perusing the records and arrive at a satisfaction as to whether it is necessary to cancel the bail of the accused.”
Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 12 that, “While applying the above principles to the facts of this case, one of the crucial aspects relevant for consideration is whether the subsequent crime interferes with the conduct of a fair trial of the case in which he is involved. Such a situation is not there in this case. Further, the mere allegation of the involvement of the petitioners in the subsequent crime after three years of the crime in which the bail was granted, cannot by itself be a reason for the cancellation of bail. Even in the subsequent cases, the petitioners were granted bail and the investigation in that case was also completed. Therefore, the custody of the petitioners is not at all necessary, and hence I do not find any justifiable reason to sustain the order of cancellation of bail. In the result, both these Crl.M.Cs are allowed. The orders passed by the IInd Additional Sessions Court, Ernakulam on 24.02.2022 in Crl.M.P.No.247/2022 and Crl.M.P.No.249/2022 in Crl.M.C.No.197/2018 are hereby quashed. However, it is made clear that, this shall not preclude the authorities concerned in initiating any proceedings for preventive detention of the petitioners if there are materials warranting the same.”
On the whole, this extremely commendable, cogent, composed and convincing judgment by the Kerala High Court makes it indubitably clear that violation of bail conditions by itself is not a ground to cancel bail. We thus see that the Kerala High Court refuses to find any justifiable reason to sustain the order of cancellation of bail. There can be just no denying it!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col (Retd) 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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