The Hindu Important Articles 18 May 2018

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# BJP invited to form govt., Cong. moves SC
Court opens doors past midnight; 3-judge Bench to hear plea
In late-night drama on Wednesday, Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala invited former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to form the government on the basis of his election as Leader of the BJP Legislature Party. Mr. Yeddyurappa will take oath — for the third time — as the 29th Chief Minister of Karnataka on Thursday morning. He has been asked to prove he enjoys the confidence of the Assembly within 15 days of assuming office.

The Governor’s decision came after both the BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular), with the support of the Congress, staked claim to form the government. Although the signatures of 117 elected members were submitted by the leaders of the JD(S) and the Congress, the Governor invited Mr. Yeddyurappa, the leader of the single largest party in the Assembly.

Without losing time, the Congress approached the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, at his residence, seeking an urgent hearing of its petition challenging the Governor’s decision. A three-judge Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri, Ashok Bhushan and S.A. Bobde was scheduled to hear the plea at 1.45 a.m.

Meanwhile, in an effort to keep its flock together, the Congress herded its elected partymen and two Independent legislators to a resort on the outskirts of the city. One of its members, mining baron Anand Singh, remained off the party’s radar, fuelling speculation about his crossover. He had shifted to the Congress from the BJP just before the polls. The JD(S) too is likely to shift its MLA-elects to a resort.

Kumaraswamy’s charge

Soon after the announcement from the Governor’s office, JD(S) State president H.D. Kumaraswamy, who has been supported by the Congress to form the government, said the 15-day time given to Mr. Yeddyurappa was unprecedented and “threw the doors wide open for horse-trading.” He said the Governor should direct the BJP leader not to take any decision during the period.

The Governor’s decision to invite the BJP, which emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats (eight short of majority in the 222-member House, with two constituencies yet to go to the polls), is expected to intensify the political slugfest after the people’s mandate threw up a hung Assembly.

# Pinarayi’s statement on quota angers NSS
The Chief Minister had said the govt wanted to continue with the present reservation scheme
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s reported statement at a meeting with Hindu community leaders on Tuesday that the government is for continuation of the present reservation scheme appears to have angered the Nair Service Society (NSS) leadership.

“News reports have quoted the Chief Minister as having said at a meeting of Hindu community leaders on Tuesday that the government is for continuation of the present reservation scheme, that it will examine whether the reservation communities are getting the benefits of reservation in the right measure and without delay, and that the government believes that a Constitution amendment is necessary to grant reservation for the poor among the forward communities…’’

“The government should clarify whether the Chief Minister’s present statement applied to the 10% reservation in Devaswom board appointments as well. If a Constitution amendment is necessary to facilitate reservation of 10% posts in Devaswom boards to the poor in the forward communities, legal options will have to be explored,” NSS general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair said in a statement here on Wednesday.

Mr. Sukumaran Nair pointed out that though the decision to grant 10% reservation in Devaswom board recruitment was taken on November 15, 2017, the government had done nothing to take its decision forward.

While announcing the Cabinet decision, the government had also made it known that it would take steps to ensure reservation of a specific percentage of posts in the State government service for the financially weaker forward community members and that it would exert pressure on the Centre to amend the Constitution to facilitate this. Although there was opposition to the government stand from certain quarters at the time, the Chief Minister himself and others concerned had stated that they would press ahead with their stand.

The government should now come clean on its real stand on granting 10% reservation to the financially weaker sections among Hindus in Devaswom board recruitment and on the larger question of amending the Constitution to provide reservation to the forward communities, the NSS general secretary said.

# CM hints at hefty pay package for staff
Three-member PRC to be set up to expedite recommendations
Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday hinted at a hefty pay revision commission (PRC) package for government employees as he said after a meeting with their leaders that they will get a “stomach full”.

Deviating from the conventional method of having a one-man PRC, Mr. Rao announced at a media conference that a three-member panel will be appointed this time to expedite the process of making recommendations. The terms of reference of the commission would mandate submission of report five days ahead of August 15 when the announcement would be made.

As a single-member commission took a long time for recommendations as a number of connected issues had to be looked into, he said it was decided to have three members who would share the burden and submit their report in a short time.

The government would announce an interim relief for employees on the State formation day of June 2 and include terms of reference of the commission that it made.

He added that it was decided to lift ban on transfers and complete the process by June 10 – 15, well before the expiry of deadline for conduct of panchayat raj elections on July 31. A committee headed by Special Chief Secretary Ajay Misra would be constituted to prepare guidelines for transfers which would be vetted by a Cabinet sub-committee. A permanent transfer and promotions policy would be evolved.

The eligibility for promotions which was reduced from three to two years would be extended by one more year. Mr. Rao announced annual leave travel concession to every employee without having to produce tickets. A token amount will be fixed and the employees can even go abroad by not availing the facility in a couple of years and using a lumpsum amount in the third or fourth year.

Five special casual leaves per annum for women employees and a remote areas allowance to be fixed by the PRC were Mr. Rao’s other announcements. The draft report of the Cabinet sub-committee suggesting four zones in the State would be given to employees associations for views before sending it to President.

As the contributory pension scheme was not in the purview of State government, it was decided to extend death and retirement gratuity benefits on a par with non-CPS employees. He reacted strongly to the threat of strike by RTC unions and said it was not proper on their part to blackmail government.

# Ready to join dialogue with India: Pak. Army
Its chiefs have shied away from talks when a civilian government wields power
The Pakistan Army is ready to formally inject itself into any dialogue process with India, the country’s military spokesman indicated to a group of visiting South Asian journalists in a rare on-the-record conversation on Sunday. Pakistan’s Army chiefs have engaged with India after assuming power directly but have shied away from talking to New Delhi when a civilian government holds power in Islamabad.

Other foreign leaders routinely meet the current Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa in Rawalpindi, as was the case with his predecessors. “We have passed that stage,” Major-General Asif Ghafoor, Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate, said when asked by The Hindu whether the Army chief would join Pakistan’s civilian leaders in talking to India or meeting his Indian Army counterpart.

Lahore ‘breakthrough’

India has long felt that the Pakistan Army is not on the same page with the country’s civilian government when it engages in talks with New Delhi, and could sabotage the process like what happened with the Lahore “breakthrough” in 1999.

After the 2016 Uri terror strike, New Delhi scrapped plans to attend the SAARC summit in Islamabad.

# Talk time at the wheel goes to Kerala HC
You cannot use Police Act to fine motorists for using a mobile phone, says court
The Kerala police have usually charged people using mobile phones while driving or riding vehicles under Section 118 (e) of the Kerala Police Act, which penalises knowingly doing something which endangers the public or causes a failure in public safety.

Santhosh, who was thus charged, approached the Kerala High Court challenging this, stating that the mere possibility of such a danger was not punishable. On Wednesday, the court ruled in his favour.

A Division Bench of Justice A.M. Shaffique and Justice P. Somarajan on Wednesday upheld a single judge’s ruling in 2014 — that in order to attract Section 118 (e), something had to be done by the accused to endanger the public — and observed that since there is no statutory provision stating that using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous, it was not possible to invoke Section 118(e).

But rash drivers in the rest of the country (or, indeed, Kerala) cannot breathe easier: they can still be penalised under Section 184 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, or under Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code. The MVA penalises ‘driving dangerously’ with imprisonment up to six months or a fine up to Rs. 1,000 for the first offence, and for any second or subsequent offence within three years, with two years in prison and a fine up to Rs. 2,000. Under the IPC, rash driving or riding can get an offender imprisoned for up to six months, or fined Rs. 1,000, or both. The NDA government’s Bill to amend the Motor Vehicles Act includes a provision to cancel the licence of drivers who use a mobile phone.

On the proposed amendments, the Centre has explained that they would provide for disqualification from holding a driving licence and revocation of licence, of drivers jumping red lights, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, driving while using a mobile phone and driving the wrong way. In a study done by IIT-Bombay using a driving simulator last year, it was found that the risk of accidents increased three and four times, depending upon whether the driver was talking on a phone.

# Plus Two pass percentage dips
Virudhunagar tops districts in State, Villupuram stands last
For the first time since 2013, the Plus Two exam results saw a slight dip this year with the overall pass percentage of 91.10. The pass percentage last year was 92.10.

Announcing the results on Wednesday, School Education Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan attributed it to tougher question papers and stringent evaulation this year. It showed in the results. While 1,171 students scored over 1,180 marks last year, this year only 231 students managed to do so. This year, 40.44% of the students scored below 700 marks compared to 31.45% last year.

In government schools, 84.60% of students cleared the exams this year against 86.87% last year. “This is to prepare the students to succeed in competitive exams in the future,” the Minister said.

Girls excel

Girls continued to outperform boys in the State. While girls secured a pass percentage of 94.1, boys recorded 87.7 pass percentage. Virudhunagar continued to top the districts in the State and had nearly 97.05% of its students clearing the school final exams. Villupuram stood last.

# BJP offering Rs. 100 cr.: HDK
Janata Dal (Secular) State president H.D. Kumaraswamy on Wednesday alleged that the BJP was trying to woo JD(S) legislators with an offer of Rs. 100 crore. He said the move would boomerang on the BJP if it indulged in horse-trading.

# Varanasi flyover collapse: FIR lodged
An FIR was lodged against personnel of the Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation on Wednesday following the collapse of a portion of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi on Tuesday. The incident led to 18 deaths. Although the FIR does not name anyone, it lists among the accused supervisory officials, contractors and staff appointed by the UPSBC for various tasks.

Source:- The Hindu

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