Two days after both Houses of Parliament cleared the reading
down of Article 370 and the reorganisation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir
into two separate Union Territories, Prime Minister NarendraModi, in a
televised address to the nation on Thursday said it was a historic move and
a new beginning for Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh.
Mr Modi, however, stressed that the Union Territory status for
J&K from being a full State, was a “temporary” situation and that at some point
statehood would be restored. Ladakh, he added, would remain a Union territory.
He also said Assembly polls, held in a transparent manner and
with a process that had integrity, will take place soon, and that MLAs and the
chief minister will be from among the people of the Union Territory.
He also pointed out that those who had settled in J&K after
Partition could only vote in LokSabha polls and not the Assembly or local body
polls. With the reading down of Articles 370 and 35A, this was now over, he
Mr Modi urged political parties who had opposed the Bills in
Parliament to put national interest front and centre going forward on this path.
He said the Union Territory status for Jammu and Kashmir and
Ladakh also meant that the State police and administrative staff would get pay
parity with the staff in other Union Territories. All vacancies in government
jobs at both the Central and State levels will be filled soon, he added.
The Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme would also be extended
further, he said. Recruitment for the Indian armed force and paramilitary from
the two union territories will also be pushed, he said.
On the third day of the hearing on Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri
Masjid land dispute, the Supreme Court on Thursday queried whether the birth
place or ‘Janmasthan’ can be regarded as a ‘juristic person’.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice
RanjanGogoi made the query to ‘Ram LallaVirajman’, one of the parties in the
The Bench said that as per Indian law, Hindu deities had been
treated as ‘juristic person’ which could hold properties and initiate
litigation, but queried how ‘Janmasthan’ came to acquire similar rights.
Mr.Parasaran said that in Hindu religion, idols were not
necessary for a place to be regarded as a holy place of worship.“Rivers are
worshipped. Sun is not an idol but is also worshipped as deity,” Mr.Parasaran
said, adding birth place in itself could be treated as a ‘juristic person’.
The top court referred to a 2017 verdict of the Uttarakhand High
Court according the status of ‘living human entities’ to the Ganga and Yamuna
The Allahabad High Court attempted to resolve the decades-old
dispute by giving joint possession of the disputed land to both Hindus and
Muslims in a three-way partition among the deity, NirmohiAkhara and the Sunni
Waqf Board in September 2010. But the parties responded by filing cross-appeals
in the apex court.
The Centre has issued a notification on certain changes in
the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), some of which tend to treat
money laundering as a stand-alone crime and also expand the ambit of
“proceeds of crime” to assets that may have been derived from any other
criminal activity related to scheduled offences.
Under the Act, the Enforcement Directorate is empowered to
conduct money laundering investigation.
The most crucial amendments are the deletion of provisos in
sub-sections (1) of Section 17 (Search and Seizure) and Section 18 (Search of
Persons), doing away with the pre-requisite of an FIR or chargesheet by other
agencies that are authorised to probe the offences listed in the PMLA schedule.
Another important change is the insertion of an explanation in
Section 44. “The jurisdiction of the Special Court, while dealing with the
offence under this Act, during investigation, enquiry or trial under this Act,
shall not be dependent upon any orders passed in respect of the scheduled
offence, and the trial of both sets of offences by the same court shall not be
construed as joint trial,” it says.
The scope of “proceeds of crime”, under Section 2, has been
expanded to empower the agency to act against even those properties which “may
directly or indirectly be derived or obtained as a result of any criminal
activity relatable to the scheduled offence”.
Another vital amendment to Section 3 makes concealment of
proceeds of crime, possession, acquisition, use, projecting as untainted money,
or claiming as untainted property as independent and complete offences under the
Act. These activities have been explicitly declared to be continuing offences
until such time a person is directly or indirectly “enjoying the proceeds of
The government has given an assurance that it will not
initiate punitive action against companies not following the Corporate
Social Responsibility (CSR) norms as mentioned in the recent amendments to
the Companies Act, industry leaders said, following a meeting with Finance
The Finance Ministry will also be looking into ways to ensure
that the rate cuts undertaken by the Reserve Bank of India are passed on to
consumers by banks.
The recent amendments to the Companies Act mandate a jail time
of up to three years and a possible fine for those companies and its officials
that do not comply with the stated CSR norms.
The other issue that was discussed extensively in the meeting
was the transmission of the central bank’s interest cuts by the banks to the
“Government needs to look at the small savings rates and reduce
them in line with the market rates,” T.V. Narendran, Global CEO and managing
director of Tata Steel and vice-president, CII, said following the meeting. “If
that does not happen, then the ability of banks to reduce deposit rates and
hence ease the lending rates will be at best limited.”
U.N. chief Antonio Guterres on August 9 urged India and
Pakistan to exercise “maximum restraint” and refrain from taking steps that
could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir, as he highlighted the Shimla
Agreement which rejects any third-party mediation on the issue.
The Secretary-General’s remarks came after India on August 5
revoked Article 370 to withdraw the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and
bifurcated the state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Pakistan termed the Indian action as “unilateral and illegal”,
and said it will take the matter to the U.N. Security Council.
Guterres’ spokesman StephaneDujarric specifically said that the
Secretary-General “also recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations
between India and Pakistan, also known as the Shimla Agreement, which states
that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means”
in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
Reacting to India’s move, Pakistan expelled the Indian envoy and
downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi.India has said that Jammu and
Kashmir is an integral part of India and the issue was strictly internal to the
India has submitted proposals regarding changes to the
listing of various wildlife species in the CITES secretariat meeting,
scheduled later this month in Geneva, Switzerland.
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
on Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international treaty to ensure that trade in wild
animals and plants do not threaten their survival.
The proposals submitted are regarding changes in the listing of
the smooth-coated otter, small-clawed otter, Indian star tortoise, Tokay gecko,
wedgefish and Indian rosewood.
The country seeks to boost the protection of all the five animal
species as they are facing a high risk of international trade.
India is among the parties proposing the re-listing of the star
tortoise from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I. The species faces two threats:
loss of habitat to agriculture and illegal harvesting for the pet trade.
With regard to the two otter species, India, Nepal and the
Philippines have proposed that the listing be moved from CITES Appendix II to
Appendix I for the more endangered species. A similar proposal has been made to
include the Tokay gecko in Appendix I.