Questioning taboos entrenched in the Indian psyche from
time immemorial, the SC decided to answer whether a physiological phenomenon
like menstruation can be a guiding factor for denying women the right to
enter and worship in a temple.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising said gender stereotyping
in Indian temples violates the fundamental right to equality under Article
14 of the Constitution.
She asked the court how the healthy biological process of
menstruation is used in the name of religion to discriminate against women.
At one point, Justice Kurian asked whether the
“individual morality” of the Sabarimala deity to remain a celibate should be
subject to the parameters of constitutional morality.
Justice Kurian wondered aloud whether the concept of
‘Nityabrahmachari’ (of the Sabarimala deity) and the tradition of no entry
to women aged between 10 and 55 have really anything to do with
Ms. Jaising insisted that it had, saying the traditional
argument is that women of that age will “disturb” the deity’s celibacy. “The
onus of causing disturbance is on women. If you are true celibate, why blame
women for disturbing you? This is a classical blaming-the-victim game,” she
The students want the apex court to decide whether
society should continue to bear with “menstrual discrimination.
The Bombay High Court directed the Board of Control for
Cricket in India (BCCI) to shift the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches
scheduled to be played after April 30 outside the State of Maharashtra.
The court started hearing a public interest litigation (PIL)
plea on April 7 and passed an order on April 13, directing 13 matches
scheduled after April 30 to be moved out of the league.
Four of those were to be played at Wankhede Stadium in
Mumbai, six in the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune and three
in the Vidarbha Cricket Stadium.
The court said, “There is a drought situation in the
State, there is not a drop of water available, all dams are drying” and
asked “whether the State can turn a blind eye to the scarcity of water.”
The Bench observed, “Shifting of IPL matches alone won’t
solve the problem, but it can be a beginning so that water used for pitches
can be diverted to affected areas.”
In its order, the court criticised the Maharashtra
government. “On the one hand the State has filed an affidavit that it has no
objection if the matches are shifted outside, on the other hand it acts as a
mute spectator and does not even question the cricket associations.”
The U.S. has launched joint South China Sea naval patrols
with the Philippines, escalating its presence as it accused Beijing of
“militarising” a region which is locked in territorial disputes.
In a show of strength, U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton
Carter also announced that 275 troops and five A-10 ground attack aircraft
currently in the country for annual war games will remain there temporarily.
China warned deployments must not damage “regional
stability”, but Mr. Carter said Washington’s efforts to strengthen its
military role in the region were not done “in order to provoke”.
He said the U.S. was responding to regional anxiety over
China’s muscular actions in the South China Sea, including building
artificial islands over disputed reefs.
The joint naval patrols, which began last month,
“contribute to the safety and security of the region’s waters,” he said
after meeting with Philippines President Benigno Aquino.
Manila has been improving its defence ties with the
United States to help boost its ability to defend its territory.
Mr. Carter announced that 275 American troops, among
about 5,000 military personnel taking part in the annual Balikatan war
games, are to stay behind after the exercises end on Friday.
Five A-10C Thunderbolt ground attack planes and four
other aircraft will also remain until the end of the month.
Some 200 of the U.S. personnel are to train Filipino
soldiers, as well as “conduct flight operations in the area, including in
the South China Sea”, Mr. Carter said
Cambodia is contemplating a $50 million (Rs. 32.5 crore)
programme to improve enforcement and restore tiger populations after the big
cat was declared ‘functionally extinct’ there by the WWF.
MD Madhusudan, a wildlife expert at the Nature
Conservation Foundation said the idea of sending Indian tigers to the
South-east Asian country wasn’t outrageous.
“We have made gains too, but we would be interested in
technical cooperation and partnerships to better understand India’s
success,” said LyonpoYesheyDorji, Minister for Agriculture and Forests,
India has improved its tiger count from an estimated 1706
in 2010 to 2226 in 2014.
Officials from 13 tiger-range countries converged here
for discussions on tiger conservation.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said India
was committed to the principles of ‘restoration, reintroduction and
rehabilitation’ that formed part of a resolution by the assembled countries
to double the world’s tiger numbers by 2020 from the current 3,890.
Translocation of tigers is a sensitive subject where even
transfers among Indian States spark a controversy.
However, translocations have been used to repopulate
reserves in Panna, Madhya Pradesh and Sariska, Rajasthan.
Inter-ministerial differences have cropped up on what
should be India's strategy in dragging the U.S. to the WTO Dispute
Settlement Body (DSB) in a matter involving renewable energy policies of
several State governments in the U.S. “violating” the global trade body’s
The renewable energy (solar & hydro power) policies in
question allegedly have local content requirements and / or greater
incentives to domestic manufacturers in the U.S. thereby “restricting and
distorting” trade, and in turn “violating” WTO rules.
The commerce ministry has opposed the power ministry’s
proposal that India should file sixteen separate cases against the U.S. with
the WTO on the measures of different State governments there “providing
protection” to the local renewable sector including solar panel producers.
As per the commerce ministry, India will have better
chances of winning the case if it, instead, files one comprehensive case
incorporating the details of how all those states are "violating" the WTO
norms using their “protectionist” policies, high-level government sources
said, asking not to be identified.
India had several years ago raised the matter before the
WTO committees on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) as well as on
Subsidies & Countervailing Measures (SCM) by pointing out that the renewable
energy schemes of many State governments in the U.S. had “very significant”
domestic content requirements “violating” the US obligations under the WTO
agreements on TRIMs and SCMs.
It is learnt that the policies that India is looking into
include that of California, Washington, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey,
Massachusetts, South Carolina, Oregon and West Virginia.
These policies apparently offer more incentives to
domestically made items and components and/or to encourage local assembling
of products used in the renewable sector.
The government is also studying a report in this regard
prepared by the Centre For WTO Studies at IIFT.
The move comes close on the heels of India recently
losing a case to the U.S. at the WTO pertaining to local content
requirements in the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission for solar