The Hindu Important Articles 12 July 2018

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# Govt. leaves decision on Section 377 to the court
The question is protection under the fundamental right to life, says SC
The government chose not to take sides on the question of the legality of Section 377 IPC, a provision which criminalises homosexuality, leaving the decision entirely to the Supreme Court.

“We leave it to the wisdom of the court,” Additional Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta told a Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra on Wednesday.

Centre’s caveat

The government’s decision to not contest writ petitions against Section 377 however came with a rider that the court should specify that the freedom to choose a partner does not extend to perversions like incest.

“My choice of partner should not be my sister…That is prohibited under the Hindu marriage law. Allowing the choice of a partner should not extend to incest… sado-masochism…,” Mr. Mehta said.

In a sharp retort, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the Bench is not here to adjudicate on any “kinky notions.”

Justice Chandrachud addressed Mr. Mehta to say that the prerogative of this hearing was to understand the nature of a relationship and bring it under the protection of Article 21 (fundamental right to life) of the Constitution. Justice Rohinton Nariman intervened to observe that the Bench was delving into the ‘content’ of the fundamental right.

Chief Justice Misra said the court is considering the issue of “protecting the relationship.”

Larger issue

He said the court was not confining its ambit merely to LGBTQ or sexual orientation. It is examining the aspect of two consenting adults who should not be liable for criminal action for their relationship.

“Mr. Mehta, we are not even on the sexual act. We are examining whether the relationship between two consenting adults is itself a manifestation of Article 21…We are on the nature of the relationship and not going to talk on marriage, etc,” Justice Chandrachud explained. “It should not come to a situation where two homosexuals enjoying a walk on the Marine Drive are disturbed by the police…we want to protect the relationship,” Justice Chandrachud observed.

# Buses sans conductors: staff unions move HC
Judge asks government to respond by July 18
The State Transport Employees Federation (STEF), affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), has filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court stating that many State Transport Corporation buses were being operated without conductors though it was mandatory to engage the services of the latter in every bus.

When the case came up for admission before Justice S.M. Subramaniam on Wednesday, he directed the government counsel to obtain instructions from the Transport Secretary by July 18. The judge wanted to know whether both mofussil as well as city buses were operated with drivers alone, as claimed by the federation.

In an affidavit filed in support of the writ petition, K. Arumuga Nainar, STEF general secretary, said that his was one of the largest unions with a membership of around 33,000 out of 1.45 lakh employees working in State Transport Corporations. He said the government had been operating the buses directly till 1975.

Thereafter, it entrusted the work to transport corporations. At present, there were six corporations (for Villupuram, Salem, Coimbatore, Kumbakonam, Madurai and Tirunelveli divisions), one metropolitan transport corporation for Chennai and a State Express Transport Corporation for operating buses.

The buses operated by these Corporations were bound to follow the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 and they fall under the definition of ‘stage carriage’ in the enactment. Sections 29 to 38 of the Act list out the statutory requirements for obtaining a licence to act as conductor and prescribes their duties.

Conductor’s role

Listing out the responsibilities of a conductor, the petitioner said: “He is responsible for maintaining the bus in a clean condition. He is responsible to ensure that buses do not carry passengers beyond the permitted seating capacity. It is his responsibility to ensure that goods carried in the buses do not cause inconvenience to the passengers.”

Although conductors were essential for buses, the transport corporations had begun to dispense with their services and started operating the new vehicles.

# HC seeks report on Sterlite protests prior to riots, firing
District Collector not even present during crisis: petitioner
The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday asked the State to submit reports, videos or any other documentary evidence pertaining to the anti-Sterlite protests prior to the Thoothukudi riots which took place on the 100th day of the protests.

A division bench of Justices C.T. Selvam and A.M. Basheer Ahamed also sought Intelligence reports of the Thoothukudi police. The State has been directed to submit its report on July 18.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by advocate A.W.D. Tilak of Thoothukudi who sought a copy of the Section 144 CrPC order (prohibitory order) clamped in parts of Thoothukudi during the anti-Sterlite protests.

Advocate Henri Tiphagne, representing the petitioner, said that the order was restricted to two police stations: Sipcot and Thoothukudi South Police Station limits.

For 99 days, the protests were peaceful, he said.

He said a peace committee meeting held in Thoothukudi did not include those who had raised their voices against Sterlite Copper; nor were the minutes of the meeting published.

The Thoothukudi Collector was not even present in Thoothukudi at the time of such a crisis, he said.

# Alliance Air starts flight operations from Belagavi
It is a subsidiary of Air India
Alliance Air, a subsidiary of the public sector airline Air India, launched operations between Belagavi and Bengaluru on Wednesday.

The flights will operate three days a week.

MP Suresh Angadi inaugurated the maiden flight at the airport here in the evening.

The recently upgraded airport at Sambra had remained without any flights for 11 days, after SpiceJet, the last airliner to operate from here, stopped operations.

Several private operators are flying into the nearby towns of Hubballi and Kolhapur, that are served under the Central subsidy scheme of UDAN.

Belagavi is not included in UDAN.

The lone airplane leaves Belagavi on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On Saturdays and Wednesdays, it leaves Belagavi at 4.05 p.m. and reaches Bengaluru at 5.25 p.m.

On Tuesdays, it leaves at 5.35 p.m. and reaches Bengaluru at 6.45 p.m.

From Bengaluru, the flight takes off on Saturdays and Wednesdays at 2.10 p.m. and reaches here at 3.35 p.m. On Tuesday, it leaves there at 3.40 p.m. and reaches here at 5.05 p.m.

R.K. Maurya, airport director and others, were present during the inauguration.

# Man sentenced for sexually assaulting minor
The incident happened on Jan. 8, 2017
The Second District and Sessions Court here has sentenced Anjalappa N., a resident of Kurkunta village in Sedam taluk of Kalaburagi district, to imprisonment for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl at Kurkunta village in Sedam taluk on Kalaburagi district one-and-a-half-year ago.

The judge sentenced him to four years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs. 1 lakh under Section 8 of PoCSO Act and Section 354 (Assault or criminal force against woman with intent to outrage her modesty), two years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 25,000 under Section 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and one year imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1,000 under Section 448 (Punishment for house trespass) of the Indian Penal Code.

On January 8, 2017, Anjalappa forcibly entered a house and sexually assaulted the minor girl after she refused to give him water.

Gopalappa S., judge, who heard the case, clarified that all punishments would run concurrently. He also ordered that the District Legal Services Authority pay a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh to the victim.

L.V. Chatnalkar, Special Public Prosecutor, argued for the State.

# State forms multi-agency panel for rain emergencies
At stormy BMC meet civic chief moots cameras to check drains
In the face of tough questions from corporators on the city’s monsoon preparedness, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has mooted the use of cameras to ascertain whether the drains in the city are choked.

At the standing committee meeting of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday, Mr. Mehta told corporators — who wanted to know why water does not reach pumping stations despite heavy rainfall — it requires manual inspection of each drain leading upto pumping stations.

“This was never done in the past. But we will now start lowering cameras into drains to check if they are choked with plastic or other trash. It will be a big exercise that will have to be undertaken,” Mehta said.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Vinod Tawde, who is also Guardian Minister for Mumbai, held a high-level meeting with top officials of various agencies and sought better coordination and cooperation amongst all. He also announced setting up of a multi-agency coordination committee to tackle monsoon emergencies.

Mr. Tawde later told reporters that a coordination committee will be set up comprising an officer each from various agencies for better coordination so that (relief and rescue) work does not get hampered in absence of coordination.

He also announced that the BMC would now take a call on declaring holiday for schools and colleges in the city in case of heavy rains. The minister has faced criticism for declaring school closed on July 9 late in the morning, as schools open by 7 a.m.

# Soon pay your power bill in pre-paid mode
Centre moots smart metering system
The Union Power Ministry has mooted a pre-paid metering system to substitute the power billing and payment system in vogue.

Draft amendments proposed to the tariff policy have set a time frame of three years for shifting from the current post-paid to the pre-paid system. And that would open an option for consumers to charge their power connections, as per requirement, from their mobile phone or laptop. This is being projected as a more consumer-friendly and efficient system.

A shift to the new system would call for the Kerala State Electricity Board to have meters designed to automatically cut off supply once the amount credited exhausted.

As per the system mooted by the Centre, smart meters in pre-paid mode will be installed for major consumers such as industries and a simple pre-paid meter for smaller consumers, mainly in the domestic bracket.

Of the 1.30 lakh consumers in the State, extra-high-tension and high-tension consumers together comprise about 6% and the domestic segment constitutes the lion’s share of 94%.

As per the policy, the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission will have to lay down the trajectory for adopting the new system, with an accent for those sectors that suffer high loss.

Current problems

The shift to the pre-paid system will do away with the current problems associated with the meter reading system such as billing, collection and disconnection in the case of non-payment of bills within the specified time limits.

Though the Centre has put forward a time frame for moving over to the new metering system, the board could ill afford to make a total deviation from the existing system. It would have to redeploy meter readers and cashiers manning the counters across the State, and most importantly could replace the meters only in a phased manner.

Given the pace of change in the power sector, the State would have to change over to the new system at least within the next five years and prior to that the board would have to complete the procurement of the new meters and complete the staff redeployment too, sources said.

# CWC advisory to authorities
‘As dams are full strict vigil has to be maintained’
The Central Water Commission (CWC) has issued an advisory to authorities cautioning them of rapid rise in water levels in Karnataka due to heavy rains in the Krishna and Cauvery basins.

A release said heavy rains in the Western Ghats have resulted in rapid rise of water levels of the Harangi and the Kabini.

The inflows into Hemavati and Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) reservoirs have also increased. Since Kabini dam is full, strict vigil has to be maintained and releases ensured as per protocol, said the advisory.

In KRS, there was a “flood cushion” of around 14 tmcft as on July 10, 2018, and with inflow of around 2.7 tmcft to 3 tmcft per day, there were chances of KRS attaining its FRL in the next three to four days given the forecast valid for the next five days. Hence, the advisory has stated that necessary precautions to regulate the releases smoothly without creating flood-like situation in the downstream areas, have to be taken.

Likewise, Krishna, Bhima and Tungabhadra basins have been receiving heavy to very heavy rains in the last three days. As a result, inflows into Alamatti dam is likely to further increase while the Tungabhadra river is likely to rise in Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga, and Ballari.

The release has also called for suspension of all water-based recreational activities in the rivers during monsoon and popular river spots be manned to dissuade tourists from swimming or venturing into river.

# Adultery must remain a punishable offence: Centre
‘Dropping it from IPC will erode the sanctity of marriage’
The government on Wednesday submitted that dropping of adultery as an offence from the Indian Penal Code (IPC) will erode the sanctity of marriage and be detrimental to the “intrinsic Indian ethos.”

In an 11-page affidavit which will be taken up before a Constitution Bench, the Centre said the provision punishing adultery — Section 497 of IPC — “supports, safeguards and protects the institution of marriage” considering the “unique structure and culture of Indian society.” The government agreed to the thought that “stability of a marriage is not an ideal to be scorned” and striking down Section 497 would destroy the fabric of society itself.

Gender equality

The Constitution Bench is scheduled to decide on whether the pre-Independence provision of adultery in the IPC treats a married woman as her husband’s “subordinate” and violates the constitutional concepts of gender equality and sensitivity. The petition filed by Joseph Shine seeks to drop Section 497 as a criminal offence from the statute book.

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had observed that the provision raised a question mark on social progress, outlook, gender equality and gender sensitivity. It was time to bring to the forefront a different view with focus on the rights of women, Chief Justice Misra observed.

The Constitution Bench to be headed by Chief Justice Misra is likely to consider whether Section 497 treats the man as the adulterer and the married woman as a victim.

The larger Bench may also examine why the offence of adultery ceases the moment it is established that the husband connived with or consented to the adulterous act. So, is a married woman the “property” of her husband or a passive object without a mind of her own?

“The provision really creates a dent in the individual independent identity of a woman when the emphasis is laid on the connivance or consent of the husband,” the SC had declared in the previous hearing.
Source:- The Hindu

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