CMYK SANGH PARIVAR IS BRACING FOR NEXT ROUND OF BATTLE AFTER AYODHYA OPINION Rs. 3 PATNA THURSDAY, 12 MAY, 2022 PG-12, YEAR—8, ISSUE—166 (RNI NO: BIHENG / 2014 / 59124) FEEL INCREDIBLE TO HAVE COMPLETED 10 YEARS IN FILM INDUSTRY: ARJUN SCREEN & CINEMA Morning India SC stays operation of sedition law, asks Centre, states not to file fresh FIRs AGENCIES NEW DELHI: Putting on hold the sedition law, the Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the registration of FIRs, ongoing probes and coercive measures on the matter across the country until an "appropriate forum" of the government re-examines the colonial era penal law. In its significant order on the law that has been under intense public scrutiny, a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said there was need to balance the interest of civil liberties and interests of citizens with that of the State. Taking note of the concerns of the Centre, the apex court said the ”rigours of Section 124A (sedition) of the IPC is not in tune with the current social milieu” and permitted reconsideration of the provision. The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohil, directed the Centre and states to not register any fresh FIR invoking sedition charges until the sedition law is "under reconsideration". The court listed the matter in the third week of July and 282 skeletons of 1857 martyrs found AGENCIES AMRITSAR: The skeletons of 282 Indian soldiers who participated in India's First War of Independence in 1857 were found during the excavation near Amritsar, said Dr JS Sehrawat, Assistant Professor, Dept Anthropology, Punjab University. "These skeletons belong to 282 Indian soldiers killed during India's first freedom struggle against the British in 1857. “These were excavated from a well found underneath a religious structure in Ajnala near Amritsar in Punjab," said the assistant professor. "These soldiers were revolting against the use of pork and beef greased cartridges, a study has suggested. Coins, medals, DNA study, elemental analysis, anthropological, radio-carbon dating, all point towards the same," Sehrawat added. The 1857 revolt was called the First War of Independence by some historians. Some Indian sepoys recruited in the British Indian army had revolted against the use of pork and beef greased cartridges citing religious beliefs. The apex court said the ”rigours of Section 124A (sedition) of the IPC is not in tune with the current social milieu” and permitted reconsideration of the provision said its directions shall continue till further orders. Any affected party is at liberty to approach concerned courts that are requested to examine the reliefs sought taking into the consideration the present order, the apex court said. ”We hope and expect that the states and the Centre will restrain (themselves) from registering any FIR, continue any investigation or taking any coercive measures by invoking section 124A of the IPC till the aforesaid provision of law is under re-consideration,” ordered the bench. ”The attorney general, on the previous date of hearing, had given some glaring examples of misuse of the sedition law like in a case of recital of ‘Hanuman Chalisa'... Therefore, we expect that till the re-examination of the law is complete, it will be appropriate not to continue with the usage of the aforesaid provision of the law by the governments,” the Chief Justice of India said in the order. The bench did not agree with the Centre's suggestion that an officer of the rank of superintendent of police be made responsible for monitoring the registration of FIRs for the offence of sedition. The Centre had also said the registration of FIRs on the matter cannot be prevented as the provision dealt with a cognisable offence and was upheld by a Constitution bench in 1962. The bench, which rose for a few minutes to discuss the orders after taking note of the Centre's response, came back to pronounce the directions and said it has considered the issues elaborately. Referring to the central government's view, it said the Union of India also agreed with its prima facie views on the penal provision which can be reviewed by the competent forum. It extended the interim orders granting relief to those accused of sedition. All pending cases, appeals and proceedings with respect to the provision of sedition would be kept at abeyance and the adjudication of other offences, if any, could proceed, the order said. In addition, it permitted the Centre to issue directives to the states to prevent misuse of the provision.Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, apprised the bench of the views of the Centre and opposed the plea to stay the operation of the law. With regard to pending sedition cases, the Centre suggested that hearing on bail pleas in such matters may be expedited as the government did not know the gravity of the offence in all the cases and they may have terror or money laundering angles. "Ultimately, pending cases are before judicial forum and we need to trust courts," the law officer told the bench. On Tuesday, the bench had asked the Centre make clear within 24 hours its stand on keeping pending sedition cases in abeyance to protect the interests of citizens already booked and not registering fresh cases till the government's re-examination of the colonial-era penal law is over. Asking the Centre to take a clear stand after it had posed the two specific queries, the top court had agreed that a re-look of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code be left to the government. Between 2015 and 2020, 356 cases of sedition -- as defined under Section 124A of the IPC-- were registered and 548 persons arrested, according to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau. However, just 12 persons arrested in seven sedition cases were convicted in this six-year period. The top court, in 1962, upheld the validity of the sedition law while attempting to restrict its scope for misuse. The bench has been hearing a clutch of pleas challenging the validity of the law on sedition, an issue of intense debate for its alleged misuse to settle political scores by various governments. MUMBAI: Maratha outfits have expressed displeasure over the administration of the famous Tulja Bhavani temple in Maharashtra's Tuljapur purportedly denying entry to former Rajya Sabha MP AGENCIES COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's exPrime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was evacuated from his Temple Trees official residence in Colombo, is being protected at the Trincomalee naval base, Defence Secretary Kamal Guneratne said on Wednesday, two days after the country witnessed unprecedented mob violence after the former strongman resigned. The 76-year-old Sri Lanka People's Party leader, known for his brutal military campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam during his presidency from 2005 to 2015, is being given protection amidst nationwide protests over the government's failure to tackle the worst economic crisis. He is also facing calls for his arrest from Opposition politicians for inciting violence against peaceful antigovernment protesters who were seeking his resignation as well as that of his elder brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for mismanaging the country's economy. “He (Mahinda Rajapaksa) was evacuated to the Trincomalee naval dockyard,” Guneratne told reporters in an online briefing. The Defence Secretary said that Mahinda Rajapaksa was evacuated from his Temple Trees residence in Colombo to the naval dockyard facility in the eastern port town of Trincomalee. “We saw how they (protesters) tried to get inside Temple Trees that night, we prevented it,” he said. Gunaratne said Mahinda Rajapaksa will be kept there until the security situation improved, “thereafter he could go to any place of his choice”. Mahinda Rajapaksa's defiance on Monday not to resign while addressing his ED arrests Jh’khand 2-judge bench divided on mining secy Pooja Singhal criminalising marital rape AGENCIES RANCHI: Jharkhand mining secretary Pooja Singhal was arrested Wednesday by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case linked to alleged embezzlement of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme funds in Khunti and other suspicious financial transactions, officials said. Officials said the 2000batch Indian Administrative Service officer was taken into custody under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act after two consecutive days of questioning by the federal probe agency. Sources claimed Singhal was “evasive” in her replies, and hence was arrested. She had arrived at the probe agency's regional office in the Hinoo area of Ranchi around 10:40 am for the second day of questioning and was arrested around 5 pm. Singhal was at the ED office for about nine hours on Tuesday where her statement was recorded. The statement of her businessman husband, Abhsihek Jha, too has been recorded in the case on at least on three occasions, the sources said. This is the second arrest in this case after Suman Kumar, a chartered accountant and financial advisor allegedly linked to the couple, was held by the ED last week on May 7, a day after the agency raided their premises and some other locations in different states. The money laundering investigation against Singhal and others pertains to a case in which former Jharkhand government junior engineer Ram Binod Prasad Sinha was arrested by the agency on June 17, 2020 from West Bengal. He was booked under the PMLA in 2012 on the basis of state vigilance bureau FIRs against him. Sinha was booked by the vigilance bureau under criminal sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to cheating and corruption for allegedly defrauding public money and investing it in his own name as well as in the name of his family members while working as junior engineer from April 1, 2008 to March 21, 2011. The said money was earmarked for the execution of government projects under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) in Khunti dis- trict, the agency had earlier said. Sinha told the ED that “he paid five per cent commission (out of the defrauded funds) to the district administration”. During the period, the ED had alleged, charges of "irregularities" were made against Singhal while she served as the deputy commissioner/district magistrate of Chatra, Khunti and Palamu between 2007 and 2013. The agency, during the May 6 raids, seized over Rs 17 crore cash from CA Suman Kumar's premises. The total cash seizure in this case including all locations is Rs 19.31 crore, officials had said. The agency had claimed, in a remand note presented to the court for Kumar, that Singhal and her husband received "huge" cash deposits -- to the tune of Rs 1.43 crore -- over and above her salary in their accounts, during the period she faced charges of irregularities while being posted as the DM of various districts in the state. The ED also told a special PMLA court in Ranchi that the IAS officer allegedly transferred Rs 16.57 lakh from her "personal account" to those controlled or owned by CA Kumar. Matter to go to SC AGENCIES NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Wednesday delivered a split verdict on the issue of criminalisation of marital rape, with one of the judges favouring striking down the provision and the other holding it was not unconstitutional. While Justice Rajiv Shakdher, who headed the division bench, favoured striking down the marital rape exception, Justice C Hari Shankar said the exception under the IPC is not unconstitutional and was based on an intelligible differentia. The petitioners had challenged the constitutionality of the marital rape exception under Section 375 IPC (rape) on the ground that it discriminated against married women who are sexually assaulted by their husbands. Under the exception given in Section 375 of the IPC, sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his wife, the wife not being minor, is not rape. Delivering the verdict, Tulja Bhavani temple bars Shivaji descendant AGENCIES Mahinda, family take refuge at naval base amid protests Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, a direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, inside the sanctum sanctorum after the stipulated time. The Tulja Bhavani Temple Trust in the Osmanabad district said that as per the Nizam era 'Deul-e-Qawayat' Act, after performing 'abhishek' (special ritual) to goddess Tulja Bhavani, no one is allowed to remain inside the sanctum (where the idol of the goddess is placed), barring the main priest. "Sambhajiraje came to the temple around 9.30 pm on Monday and expressed his wish to enter the sanctum sanctorum. However, he was told by the temple administra- tion that since the 'abhishek' was already performed, no one is allowed to go inside," Yogita Kolhe, tehsildar and the management administrator at the temple trust, told PTI on Tuesday. The temple administration clarified that there was no intention to show disrespect to Sambhajiraje and issued a letter of apology for the inconvenience caused to him during his visit. Kolhe said the temple is administered as per the provisions of the 'Deul-e-Qawayat' Act. She added that Kolhapur Sansthan, of which Sambhajiraje is a member, traditionally has the first hon- our to perform the abhishek at the temple of goddess Tulja Bhavani, known as kuldevta (deity of clan) of Maharashtra. Kolhe explained that if a person from a royal family visits the temple, abhishek is performed by that person. "If the kin or members of the royal family are not present, their representatives perform the abhishek ritual. During the COVID-19 lockdown, when the temples were closed, the representatives of the royal family used to perform the abhishek," she explained. Kolhe added that Sambhajiraje was told that had he come at the time of 'Abhishek puja', the special ritual would have been performed by him only. " S a m b h a j i r a j e Chhatrapati then took the darshan from the 'Chopdar darwaja', which is hardly five feet away from the goddess' idol. Usually, all VVIP darshans take place from that door," Kolhe said. She said members of Maratha outfits started criticising the temple trust after Sambhajiraje left the place. Kolhe also added that instructions have been issued to the temple trust to ensure that if Sambhajiraje is scheduled to visit the temple, the abhishek puja should be scheduled as per his time of arrival. The petitioners had challenged the constitutionality of the marital rape exception under Section 375 IPC (rape) on the ground that it discriminated against married women who are sexually assaulted by their husbands Justice Shakdher said, "As far as I am concerned, the impugned provisions -exception 2 to section 375 and section 376 (E)... are violative of Articles 14, 15, 19(1) (A) and 21 of the Constitution and are hence struck down." He said this declaration will operate from the date of its pronouncement. However, Justice Shankar said, "I have not been able to agree with my learned brother" and added that these provisions do not violate Articles 14, 19 (1) (A), and 21 of the Constitution. He said the courts cannot substitute their subjective value judgement for the view of the democratically elected legislature and the exception is based on an intelligible differentia. He said the challenge to the provisions by the petitioners cannot sustain. In February, the Centre had urged the court to grant more time to enable it to state its stand on the issue after a consultative process. The request was however turned down by the bench on the ground that it was not possible to defer an ongoing matter endlessly. In its 2017 affidavit, the Centre had opposed the pleas, saying that marital rape cannot be made a criminal offence as it could become a phenomenon that may destabilise the institution of marriage and an easy tool for harassing husbands. grassroot supporters caused mayhem in the country. His supporters suffered a wave of backlash after they attacked anti-government protesters. He resigned as prime minister on Monday amid unprecedented economic turmoil in the country, hours after his supporters attacked anti-government protesters, prompting authorities to impose a nationwide curfew and deploy Army troops in the capital. The attack triggered widespread violence against pro-Rajapaksa politicians. At least 9 people died with over 200 being hospitalised. Some 58 of Mahinda Rajapaksa's government colleagues have seen arson attacks on their personal properties. BJP plans 15 days’ blitz to mark 8 years of Modi govt AGENCIES NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party will launch a massive fortnight-long campaign on May 30 to reach out to all sections of society, with particular emphasis on minorities and scheduled castes and tribes, to mark the 8th anniversary of the Modi government. Elected representatives of the party, including MPs and MLAs, will actively participate in the public outreach programmes from booth to national level during which rallies and 'Prabhat Pheri' will be organised across the country and a report card on the performance of the Modi government released, according to a party booklet. BJP president J P Nadda will kick off the campaign themed '8 Years: Service, Good Governance and Welfare of the Poor' on May 30 with the release of a book titled 'A Report to the Nation'. Top party leaders, including Union ministers, will attend the function. It will be followed by a public outreach programme over 10 days though the celebrations will continue for five days more. Each day of the exercise has been dedicated to specific segments of the society such as farmers, women, etc. Active Covid cases dip with 2,897 new cases AGENCIES NEW DELHI: With 2,897 coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India's tally of cases rose to 4,31,10,586, even as active cases have decreased to 19,494, according to Union health ministry data updated on Tuesday. The death toll has climbed to 5,24,157 with 54 fatalities, the data updated at 8 am stated. The active cases comprise 0.05 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has been recorded at 98.74 per cent, it said. The data showed that a decrease of 143 cases has been recorded in the active caseload in a span of 24 hours. The daily positivity rate has been recorded at 0.61 per cent and the weekly positivity rate at 0.74 per cent, according to the health ministry.