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Sunday, 25 July 2021

Petition filed against Vedanta’s upcoming zinc plant in Gujarat

There is a gross violation of several provisions of PESA which requires every gram sabha to approve plans, programmes before projects are taken up for implementation, the petition alleges.

 Petition filed against Vedanta’s upcoming zinc plant in Gujarat  

Chotubhai Vasava, MLA of Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) from Jhagaria, Bharuch, has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) against the upcoming zinc smelter plant of Vendanta group in Gujarat on July 19.

Hindustan Zinc Limited, a Vedanta Group company, had announced an investment of Rs 5,000-10,000 crore to set up a 300 KTPA (kilo tonnes per annum zinc) smelter plant at Doswada village in Tapi district spread over 415 acres. An MoU was signed between Gujarat government and the company in October 2020. The first phase of the plant is estimated to cost Rs 6,000 crore and expected to be operational by the end of 2022.

The land on which the proposed zinc facilities is planned to be set up was acquired 25 years ago by the Gujarat government for establishing an industrial estate. However, the land had been left unused since then.

The PIL seeks that the court directs the concerned authorities to follow the rules under the Panchayat (Extension to Schedules Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) to establish an industrial unit in the tribal area. The petition filed in Gujarat High Court has also sought to stay the process of operation of the proposed plant temporarily and requested the court to direct the state government to hear representatives of the villages likely to be affected by the project as directed under PESA.

Vasava, in his petition, claimed that he is aware of the developments on the ground and that it was one of the reasons for filing the PIL.

“There is prima facie many basis of making unfair, illegal and unjust benefit to the influential Hindustan Zinc Limited by respondent authority and some of having vested interest without considering public in general,” states the petition.

“There is a gross violation of several provisions of Panchayat (extension to the scheduled areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) which requires every gram sabha to approve plans, programmes and projects for social and economic development before such plans, programmes and projects are taken up for implementation by the panchayat at village level,” the petition further reads.

Noticeably, the petition comes after the public hearing called by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) for the for the zinc smelter plant on June 5 turned violent. The police lobbed over 50 tear gas shells and lathi charged to disperse villagers who had resorted to stone pelting.

Days before the public hearing, Chhotubhai Vasava had appealed to the tribals of the state to gather at Doswada on July 5 to oppose the zinc project at the public hearing being held by the government.

The PIL states that, “On July 1, a group of village heads and concerned villagers had gone to the district collector office to submit resolutions they had passed voicing their concerns against the project but the local authorities refused to meet them. The concerned villagers also raised their objections through letters, e-mails and held peaceful protests to draw authorities’ attention. On July 5, the public hearing was organised by GPCB and local revenue officers where only selected persons were allowed to attend. As this message spread in villages, locals felt cheated and large number of people gathered at the hearing confronted the authorities which led to violence.”

Vasava appealed to the court that PESA provisions, especially those under section 4 be followed and a public hearing be called only after the gram sabha had consented.

Projects in schedule 5 areas and implementation of PESA

Gujarat notified the State PESA Rules in January 2017 to be applied in 4,503 gram sabhas under 2,584 village panchayats in 50 tribal talukas in eight districts of the state. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, in an event in Chota Udepur district, said, “This would lead to a golden period of tribal development, promising a separate security force for the gram sabhas that would have complete power to decide their issues.”

However, the Act has reportedly not been enforced on the ground even though the provisions of the PESA deem the gram sabhas as “most competent” to deal with matters related to their territories for safeguarding their customs, traditions as well as the natural resources in the tribal areas.

One such example is the process of land acquisition for the Statue of Unity project in 13 tribal villages around Kevadiya, Narmada district. Amid protests by local tribals of the area in 2019, the government of Gujarat passed the Statue of Unity Area Development and Tourism Governance Authority or the SoU Tourism Authority (SoUTA) Bill.

The SoUTA has powers ranging from acquiring land for any development project to taking punitive action against those violating and/or encroaching it. The authority has the right to define the limits of the tourism development area and is empowered to acquire immovable property under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

The SoUTA authority works as a local body that prepares and executes a development plan or a town planning scheme, remove encroachments and provide civic amenities like water supply, transportation, power supply, drainage, hospitals among others. The Bill has set aside Rs 10 crore from the consolidated fund of the state for the discharge of functions and duties by SoUTA.

As per the Bill, the local police can assist the authority in prohibiting any activity being caused that the authority think might damage or deteriorate the tourism potentiality of the area.

Notably, the 13 villages of Narmada district fall under Schedule V area where the provisions of PESA are in force. Both Schedule V and PESA provide the rights to the tribal panchayats to make decision on the course of development and also land acquisition. The laws prevent any transfer of tribal lands to non-tribal entities.

“About 85% of the population of Narmada district are tribals. The land in the district is protected under the Fifth Schedule. As per law, if land is to be acquired, the gram sabha has to agree to give it away. But while building the Narmada weir dam or ‘Statue of Unity’, the Gujarat government did not bother to take permission of the gram sabha of respective villages,” claimed Praful Vasava, a tribal rights activist based in Narmada district.

First published by Newsclick.

 

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Here is What You Should Know about Pegasus Spyware

 

Here is what you should know about this 'virus' and how it could compromise your privacy. 


The recent revelations about the surveillance of citizens, journalists, activists, politicians and business people from across the world have put the spotlight on Pegasus, a spyware created by the Israeli NSO Group, which claims to only sell the software to governments and authorised agencies. While you all catch up with the revelations on a daily basis, here is what you should know about this ‘virus’ and how it could compromise your privacy.

SOURCE ;  NewsClick 

 

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UAPA and sedition law being used to stifle dissent; must be repealed, say former judges

UAPA and sedition law being used to stifle dissent; must be repealed, say former judges 

FOUR former Supreme Court judges have spoken in one voice for the repeal of the sedition law and the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), pointing out that they were being misused to stifle dissent.

They were speaking at a public discussion on “Democracy, Dissent and Draconian laws- Should the UAPA and Sedition have a place in our statute books?”

Justice Aftab Alam said the UAPA had failed both in protecting national security and constitutional freedoms, even as he highlighted the low conviction rate under the UAPA but the high rate of pendency of the cases, thus making the trial process itself the punishment under the UAPA.

He said peaceful protests and acts of violence had been clubbed together for booking people under the UAPA.

Justice Gopala Gowda described the UAPA as “a wholesale breach of the right to a speedy trial.” The UAPA, he said, had become a weapon against dissent. Referring to the bail provision under the anti-terror law, he said the Act restricted the role of the courts to examine the prosecution case while considering the grant of bail and precluded bail if the prosecution version appeared true on the face of it.

He criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali case which prohibited judges from analysing prosecution cases while considering bail under UAPA. “The grant of bail is rendered almost impossible until the end of the trial which could take generations – a wholly unconstitutional interpretation of UAPA that strikes at the root of the fundamental right to life, personal liberties and speedy trial guaranteed under the Constitution,” Justice Gowda said.

He, however, hailed the recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the KA Najeeb case which said the constitutional court was not denuded of the power to grant bail.

Justice Gowda said a people-centric model of national security law is the quintessential need of the hour. The massive power of terrorism legislation in India under authoritarian impulses of the State is dangerous in a constitutional democracy.

Justice Deepak Gupta for his part asserted that the UAPA in its existing form should not remain on the statute books because it was “too vague a law, highly susceptible to gross misuse”. The provision that effectively takes away the power of the superior court to grant bail and denies the power of judicial review to the accused is unconstitutional, he added.


Justice Madan Lokur said though there was a need to repeal the draconian laws, not only will they “never go anywhere, but National Security Act (NSA) will also be made to be very active to quell dissent”. He referred to the misuse of NSA against an activist and a journalist from Manipur for their posts on cow-related Covid cure, which Justice Deepak Gupta described as the “grossest” misuse of the law.

Justice Lokur suggested that the only remedy was accountability and compensation for those who are acquitted after long periods of incarceration. He also spoke on the “soft torture” practised in jails by overcrowding, lack of hygiene and medical facilities.

Justice Lokur stressed the mental trauma afflicted on families of those accused of sedition and UAPA and languishing in jail for years

“Look at the emotional, psychological impact on his family, him… His children… They will go to school where classmates will say your father is a ‘terrorist’ for something he has not done… We are not looking at the mental aspect,” Justice Lokur said.

Justice Lokur cited a few decisions of the Supreme Court in which it granted compensation for the illegal arrests and death in police custody. He said after the 1990s the Supreme Court had been slow in granting compensation as if illegal arrests were not taking place. Justice Lokur especially flagged encounters in UP and Assam.


Referring to the delay of the release of accused persons despite the court’s order, Justice Lokur said “we have come to a state where courts have to say, ‘release the person by 5 pm”. Recently the Supreme Court had ordered the release of a journalist from Manipur by 5 pm on the day order was dictated.

Former high court judge Justice Anjana Prakash said UAPA was being used to safeguard the sovereignty of a political party instead of the sovereignty of India, adding that the law had dislodged the presumption of innocence, a constitutionally guaranteed right. She agreed with Justice Gupta that the UAPA suffers from vagueness.

The event was organised by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) and Human Rights Defenders Alert(HRDA). Transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and advocate Prashant Bhushan moderated the event.

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Officials of CBI, MNC, Assam leaders, and journalists targeted by Pegasus

 Phones of ministers, journalists, lawyers and activists tapped by Pegasus spyware. Indians should worry 

THE WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart revealed in an interview with The Guardian, that many prominent U.S. nationals, along with their friends and family members, were snooped upon in 2019. He said he saw many similarities between the 2019 attack and the latest revelations under the Pegasus Project.

WhatsApp had recorded a similar attack on 1400 of its users for over two weeks in 2019. About 100 of the targeted users were human rights activists and journalists from across the world. The messaging platform had filed a lawsuit against the NSO Group for the same reason.  The suit is currently being heard in a US court on whether NSO can be held accountable for its customers’ actions.

“This tells us that over a longer period of time, over a multi-year period of time, the numbers of people being attacked are very high. That’s why we felt it was so important to raise the concern around this. This should be a wake-up call for security on the internet. Mobile phones are either safe for everyone or they are not safe for everyone,” he said.


The WhatsApp chief has hailed the promise made by the tech giants Microsoft and Apple to make their systems more secure against this software.

The Wire has so far revealed 136 Indian names who were the possible target of the Pegasus spyware.

Was former CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana snooped upon?

Former Chief of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Alok Verma was placed on the leaked target list soon after he was ousted from his post by the union government at midnight on October 23, 2018. Two other former CBI officials also made it to the list: Rakesh Asthana and A.K. Sharma.  Asthana and Sharma were added to the list about an hour after Verma by an unidentified central agency known to be a user of Pegasus.

Along with Verma, seven of his family members were also identified for monitored including the numbers of his wife, daughter and son-in-law. He was removed from his post when he had three months of tenure to go.

Asthana, former Special Director of the CBI, was also removed from the agency on the night of October 23, 2018. He is currently head of the Border Security Force. Sharma was divested as the head of the policy division of the CBI but remained in the agency till January 2019. He retired earlier this year.

Verma’s removal came barely two days after he ordered the filing of a criminal case against Asthana accusing him of corruption. The case mentioned unlawful phone intercepts as well as corruption charges against Asthana. Prior to that, Asthana had written formal letters on multiple instances to the then Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) making allegations against Verma. The matter later went to the Supreme Court.

Also Read:  Pegasus exposes government complicity in surveillance

Both Asthana and Sharma are Gujarat cadre Indian Police Service officers, known for their close proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah respectively from their Gujarat days. Asthana worked closely with Modi when the latter was Chief Minister of the state, Sharma’s name figured with Shah in two main controversies: the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter and the illegal surveillance of a young woman in 2009.

Chhattisgarh CM claims that NSO officials visited the state under previous dispensation’s rule

Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel has alleged in light of the Pegasus Project revelations that some NSO Group officials had visited the state to meet the former CM Raman Singh during the latter’s tenure “in a secret mission”. The exact time period of the alleged visit was not specified.

He announced constituting a committee to probe this issue. He also demanded the union government come clean on this issue.

The Baghel government had earlier constituted a committee when alleged illegal surveillance was carried out on some Indians by Pegasus through Whatsapp in 2019. The committee was tasked to probe the alleged spying of 100 activists of the state who had been targeted by that attack. The committee’s report or findings are still not out in the public domain.

Monsanto officials under scanner as Maharashtra government ordered probe

In February 2018, the then Bharatiya Janta Party-led Maharashtra government had set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe companies that were allegedly selling or releasing unapproved herbicide-tolerant (HT) transgenic cotton or Bt cotton seeds in the state.

The SIT was required to probe the role of seed giants like Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Pvt. Ltd, Monsanto Holdings Pvt. Ltd. and Monsanto India Ltd. in the unauthorised production, storage and sale of HtBt cotton seeds with HT transgenic gene. The seeds were alleged to be sold in the cotton-growing areas of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, and Karnataka.


Apart from this, the Prime Minister Office (PMO) also set up the Field Inspection and Scientific Evaluation Committee (FISEC), under the Department of Biotechnology to probe the production and sale of unauthorised seeds.

The latest Pegasus Project reports suggest that the phone numbers of six senior officials from Mahyco Monsanto and Monsanto India were selected as possible candidates for surveillance. Also featured in the list is the number of a senior government scientist at the Department of Biotechnology, who was involved with FISEC. They were chosen as targets in mid-2018, at the time when an investigation was underway.

The FISEC later gave a clean chit to Mahyco in its report submitted to the PMO. However, the full report is not yet public.

Assamese leaders, Manipur journalist feature in the list

 The Pegasus Project revealed that the snooping target list features the number of Samujjal Bhattacharjee, an advisor to All Assam Students Union (AASU) and a member of a new high-powered committee that was constituted by the Union Home Ministry in July 2019 to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord as the state’s National Register for Citizens was updated in August 2019. Clause 6 is an important provision of the Accord that provides constitutional safeguards to Assamese people.

The Assam accord was signed between the Union government and AASU in 1985 after years of protest by the student body. The accord promised the residents of the state to implement NRC to remove illegal migrants from the state.

Another phone number in the leaked database is of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) leader Anup Chetia. One of his two phone numbers was selected for surveillance in late 2018.

On being informed about this, Chetia told The Wire that he was always aware that his phones had been tapped. “I have two numbers, all the time the police keep listening to my conversations. I am not surprised at all. One number was given to me by the Assam Police itself after I was released from jail (in 2015). So it would be naïve to think that there is no surveillance on me through that number.”

Another phone number found in the leaked data is that of a Delhi-based Manipuri writer Malem Ningthouja. He believes that he may be on the list due to his several meetings with separatist Naga groups between 2012 and 2019 to understand their ideology for his book-writing exercise. His arrest in 2019 for a Facebook post opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill had hit national headlines.

NSO founder accepts that its clients misuse the spyware

Shalev Hulio, one of the founders of the NSO Group, has acknowledged in his interview in The Washington Post that his clients have in the past violated the basic human rights of their citizens. He said that his company terminated its service of five of its clients, including two in the last year, after conducting a human rights audit. Hulio said he was bound by strict confidentiality agreements with his clients that prevent him from publicly naming them.

Asked about the 37 attempted and confirmed hacks by Amnesty International’s forensic lab, he said, “If even one is true, it is something we will not stand as a company.” Hulio further said the company was still investigating the numbers provided under the Pegasus Project.

Hulio said that he had established three guiding principles for his company at the time of foundation. 

First, they would license only to certain government entities, recognising that the technology could be abused in private hands. 

Second, they would have no visibility into the individuals targeted by customers after selling them a software license. 

The third was to seek approval from the export controls unit of Israel’s Ministry of Defence, an unusual decision because at the time the unit only regulated overseas weapons sales.


Media bodies condemn this issue

The Press Club of India and other prominent media bodies held a press conference to condemn the “surveillance mounted on Indian journalists, activists, ministers, parliamentarians and members of the judiciary” and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the Pegasus Project revelations.

Meanwhile, a visit by a policeman to The Wire’s Delhi office sparked concern over the government using its policy agencies to intimidate journalists over the Pegasus Project coverage. Siddharth  Varadarajan, a founding editor of The Wire tweeted, “A Policeman arrived today with inane inquiries. ‘Who’s Vinod Dua?’ ‘Who’s Swara Bhaskar?’ ‘Can I see your rent agreement?’ ‘Can I speak to Arfa?’.”

The Delhi Police, downplaying this incident has termed this visit as a routine checkup before Independence Day.

BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanium Swamy is also up in arms against his party over this issue.

Quoting a report from The Hindu in 2017, he tweeted on Thursday, “Today in the Parliament Library I asked for the Budget for India’s National Security Council Secretariat(NSCS). I asked for an allocation for three years, Rs 44 crores in 2014-15, Rs 33 Crores in 2016-17 & Rs 333 Crores in 2017-18. Why this jump? Because a new Head was added: ‘Cyber Security R&D’?. Modi government spokesperson should clarify where the additional Rs 300 crores of the Rs.333 crore allotted actually go?.”

Throughout last week in Parliament, the Indian government has refused to accede to opposition parties’ demand for an independent probe into the matter, simply brushing aside the reports of global surveillance as attempts to malign Indian democracy.

SOURCE ;  theleaflet.in

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Shift LGBTQ Couple to Safe House, give Security: Delhi HC to Police

 LGBT Marriage 

On Friday, the Delhi High Court directed the police to shift a LGBTQ community couple, wanting to get married and facing threat from families, to a safe house set up by the Delhi government and provide them adequate security.

Justice Mukta Gupta directed the SHO of Mayur Vihar Phase-I police station to ensure that the couple be taken from the office of an NGO, where they are currently residing, and lodged at the 'safe house'' set up at Sewa Kutir complex in Kingsway Camp here.

The high court also asked the police officer to ensure that the couple will be given adequate security by the police at the 'safe house''.

It also issued notices to the family members of the couple and listed the matter for further hearing on August 2.

A 60 sq yard safe house has been set up by the government in Kingsway Camp with two rooms, a toilet and a kitchen. It can accommodate three couples "whose relationship is opposed by their families or local community and khaps".

 

The top court had in 2018 passed an order to protect couples choosing interfaith or inter-caste marriages after NGO Shakti Vahini filed a petition against "honour killings". It had asked states to look into the creation of safe houses for such couples.

Petitioner couple, through advocate Utkarsh Singh, approached the high court saying they are adults, and their relationship is not acceptable to their families as they belong to the LGBTQ community.

The counsel said the couple was assaulted by their family members after which they came to Delhi from Punjab to solemnise their marriage and is presently residing at the office of NGO Dhanak of Humanity.

 

On being asked by the court as to where the Delhi government has opened the 'safe house'' in compliance of the Supreme Court's order, additional standing counsel for the state Rajesh Mahajan submitted that it has been opened at Sewa Kutir complex in Kingsway Camp.

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High Court allows critical Covid Patient's sample collection as Wife wants Child

 Abort Pregnancy of disabled girl (Pic by Google).jpg 

The Gujarat High Court has directed a hospital in Vadodara to conduct an IVF/Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedure for the collection of sample of a critical COVID-19 patient having slim chances of survival, after his wife expressed the desire to bear his child.

The high court issued the order issued on Tuesday, considering it as an "extraordinary urgent situation".

After an urgent hearing of a petition filed by the patient's wife, Justice Ashutosh J Shastri directed the Vadodara-based hospital to conduct the IVF (In vitro fertilisation)/ART procedure for the collection of his sample and keep it stored in an appropriate place as per medical advice.

The petitioner wants to conceive his child through the IVF/ART technology, but the hospital was not allowing this unless she got a court order directing it to collect his sample, her lawyer Nilay Patel said.

Hence, she approached the high court on Tuesday with an urgent plea, he said.

 

The high court said "the ad interim relief is granted in an extraordinary urgent situation before the court and the same shall be subject to the outcome of the petition".

The court also issued notices to the state government and the hospital's director, and sought their response on July 23.

The petitioner approached the court, saying her COVID-19-infected husband was suffering from multi-organ failure and was on life support system, and according to doctors, he has slim chances of survival, Ms Patel said.

 

The high court directed the petitioner and the assistant government pleader to communicate its order to the hospital for collection of the patient's sample, looking at the criticality of the situation when his health condition is said to be deteriorating.

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Adult Couple entitled to stay together in Live-in Relationship: High Court

 Live In Relationships, pic by: YouTube 

An adult couple is entitled to stay together in a live-in-relationship, according to a ruling of the Punjab and Haryana high court.
Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi, in an order passed on July 22, stated, “Both the petitioners are major and are entitled to live together in a live-in-relationship. They are also entitled to protection of their life and liberty against any harm from respondents.”

An 18-year-old girl from Chandigarh and a 20-year-old man from Mohali, in their application, they had been living together after falling in love. “Our relationship is acceptable to the boy’s family but not that of the girl’s. We apprehend a danger to our life and liberty,” their petition said, adding they had submitted a representation for police protection to the UT SSP but no action was taken.

The petitioners’ counsel, Jagan Nath Bhandari, submitted before the high court that two had made representation to the UT SSP seeking. The two had claimed they were getting threats, not in a position to go back home and were hiding themselves in different places. The girl had also claimed that she was beaten by her maternal uncle and cousin on July 12 and she left her house on July14 and started living with the youth.

The court, in its order, said the petition was disposed of with the direction to the SSP to look into the grievances of the petitioners and take appropriate action for protection of their life and liberty as may be warranted by the circumstances.

“The registry of this court is directed to send a copy of this order along with a copy of the petition and representation to the SSP for compliance,” the order said. Both boy and girl had submitted that they were adults and could live together as per their wish.

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Mississippi AG files brief with Supreme Court urging Roe and Casey be overturned

Mississippi AG files brief with Supreme Court urging Roe and Casey be overturned 

The attorney general of Mississippi filed a brief with the Supreme Court on Thursday in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case which asks the Court to reconsider its precedential rulings in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The question presented in the brief to the Court is, “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional?” The case concerns a lawsuit filed over the Gestational Age Act, passed by the state and signed into law in 2018, which would allow abortions after 15 weeks only in cases of medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality, with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. The law was blocked at both the district and appellate court levels, and the Supreme Court debated for months before deciding to take up the case.

Calling Roe and Casey “egregiously wrong,” the brief argues that there is nothing in the “text, structure, history, or tradition” of the Constitution that protects a woman’s right to an abortion. Because nothing in the constitution protects that right, a ban on elective abortions should be constitutional if it meets the rational basis review standard. The problem, according to the brief, is the Court’s decisions in Roe and Casey that found a constitutional right to abortion, and imposed a heightened standard of review of laws that limit pre-viability abortions in any way. The brief calls that reasoning “flawed” and asserts that if a state’s interests are compelling enough to limit post-viability abortions, they should be compelling enough to limit them pre-viability.

The brief further asserts that there can be no reliance interest in maintaining the status quo regarding abortion, because times have changed. Roe and Casey held that unwanted pregnancies “could doom women to a distressful life and future,” and that abortion was a needed complement to contraception. The brief notes that adoption and contraceptive are available on a much wider scale, and that women can now attain professional success and have children at the same time. “States should be able to act on th[e]se developments,” the brief concludes.

Lynn Fitch, Mississippi’s attorney general, released a statement saying “It is time for the Court to set this right and return this political debate to the political branches of government.” Nancy Northup, the CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents Jackson Women’s Health Organization (the only remaining abortion provider in Mississippi), called the attorney general’s strategy “extreme and regressive,” saying the goal of the suit is “to take away our right to control our own bodies and our own futures—not just in Mississippi, but everywhere.”

Oral arguments are scheduled for October.

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Bizarre: Palm Reader advises Man to Divorce his Wife if he wants to become MLA; Held

 astrologer.jpg 


A 48-year-old palm reader was arrested here in Maharashtra on 12 July for allegedly advising a family to get rid of their daughter-in-law alleging she was a “bad omen" for her husband who wants to become an MLA or Minister, police said. The accused Raghunath Yemul had told the man that his dream will never come true until he divorces his wife, a Chatushringi police station officer said quoting the FIR.

The victim had already lodged a case against her in-laws and husband for harassing her for dowry. Amitabh Gupta, Commissioner of Pune Police, appealed that women labelled “bad omen" by the likes of Yemul and have been subjected to torture by their in-laws can approach the nearest police stations.

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US Treasury sanctions Cuba defense minister and special forces unit

 US Treasury sanctions Cuba defense minister and special forces unit 

The US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions Thursday against Cuban Defense Minister Alvaro Lopez Miera and an entire special forces unit for alleged human rights violations in relation to the suppression of peaceful protests.

Earlier this month, thousands of Cubans took to the streets in anti-government protests, motivated by dissatisfaction with the Cuban government’s handling of the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the curtailment of civil liberties. Responding to the protests in a televised address, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez urged citizens to use physical force to resist the protests in the country.

The department alleged that Cuba’s Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, led by Lopez Miera, has played a key role in suppressing ongoing protests in Cuba, through which Cubans are demanding an end to the 62-year-old regime and better living conditions. Further, the department said that the Cuban government deployed the SNB, a special forces unit under the Cuban Interior Ministry, to suppress the protests and has since attacked and arrested protesters, leading to the disappearance of over 100 people.

The department imposed the sanctions in furtherance of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which seeks to target perpetrators of serious human rights violations and corruption across the world.

In a statement, US President Joe Biden said, “the Cuban people have the same right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as all people.” He further added, “this is just the beginning—the United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for the oppression of the Cuban people.”'

SOURCE ;  .jurist.org


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India court orders Delhi government to enforce promise made at press conference

India court orders Delhi government to enforce promise made at press conference 

 

The High Court of Delhi ruled Thursday that a promise made by the Chief Minister of State during a press conference is an enforceable promise that has to be implemented by the government.

On March 25, 2020, India announced a nationwide lockdown because of COVID-19. Consequently, Delhi witnessed a mass exodus of daily-wage workers leaving for their hometowns on foot due to lack of money and public transportation. As a result, central and state governments announced various schemes to assist daily-wage workers.

In this context, the Delhi Chief Minister (CM) urged landlords not to collect rent from tenants in a press conference on March 29, 2020. More importantly, the CM promised the landlords that if any tenant failed to pay rent due to poverty, the government would pay the landlord on the tenant’s behalf.

When the Delhi government failed to implement the aforesaid promise, five daily-wage workers and a landlord filed a petition before the Delhi High Court. The court observed that the doctrines of promissory estoppel and legitimate expectation reflect the legal recognition being accorded to people’s trust in promises made by the government. It ruled that the citizens have a reasonable expectation that a promise made by a constitutional functionary such as a CM, especially during a pandemic, would be implemented. Further, the CM is expected to have knowledge of the consequences of such promises and to exercise his authority to carry them out.

Moreover, the court held that since the present case involves the fundamental right to shelter, the principle of legitimate expectation assumes greater importance. The doctrine of estoppel is an equitable doctrine, which means it creates a legal right. It requires that the the government is held liable if it fails to act on a commitment made by the CM even if it doesn’t result in a formal policy. Thus, a promise made by the CM in a press conference amounts to an enforceable promise that must be implemented. Further, “good governance requires that promises made to citizens, by those who govern, are not broken, without valid and justifiable reasons.”

The court directed the Delhi government to make a decision on the implementation of its promise within six weeks, taking into account the interests of the people who were supposed to benefit from the promise.

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Karnataka HC dismisses Amazon-Flipkart's plea against CCI investigation

 Amazon and Flipkart 

In a blow to US-based Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart, a division bench of the Karnataka High Court on July 23 dismissed their petition challenging a probe ordered by the Competition Commission of India (CII) against the two companies for alleged anti-competitive practices.

The petition by the two companies was "devoid of merits and substance", Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy said, a decision that will have a bearing on the larger e-commerce ecosystem of India.

"Not finding any reason to interfere in the order of the tribunal and therefore the petition is dismissed," said the judges.

Reacting to the order, Amazon said it will decide the next step, if any, after going through the order.  "We respect the judgment passed by the honourable high court and we will review the judgment in detail to determine any next steps," an Amazon spokesperson said.

 

Flipkart said its compliance and governance process was robust and it would continue to comply with Indian laws. "We are awaiting to receive a copy of the order of the division bench of the Karnataka High Court and will review as soon as we get it. As highlighted earlier, we have a very robust compliance and governance process and remain in full compliance with Indian laws. We will do everything to be always compliant," Flipkart Group spokesperson said.

This is the second time that the high court has gone against India's biggest e-commerce players. The two had earlier challenged a single-judge bench order allowing the antitrust body to continue its investigation against the two marketplaces under Section 3 of the Competition Act that deals with anti-competitive agreements.

The issue dates back to October 2019 when the Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh (DVM), a group representing small and medium business owners in the national capital, submitted a plea with CCI against the country's two companies, accusing them of anti-competitive practices, predatory pricing and preferential treatment of sellers among others.

 

DVM filed the complaints under Sections 3 and 4 of the Competition Act. The CCI in January 2020 directing the director-general to conduct a probe.

This order was challenged by Amazon through a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court in February 2020. The high court put the CCI’s investigation on hold the same month.

After months of hearing, Justice PS Dinesh Kumar dismissed the writ petition on June 11, 2021.

 

The latest high court order comes within days of the e-commerce industry shared its response on the proposed draft Consumer Protection Rules, saying that many clauses in it are likely to have a detrimental impact on consumers.

While the two companies have been opposing an investigation denying any wrongdoing, recently Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal also insisted that instead of forum shopping, the companies should let the CCI investigate if they were doing honest business, adding that the reluctance showed they weren't doing it right.

"It fully vindicates the stand of CAIT that Amazon and Flipkart business model is entirely based on violating the FDI policy, rules and other laws, mischievous business practices, therefore, without wasting any more time, the CCI should immediately begin its probe," said B.C.Bhartia, National President and Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

While the two companies have been opposing an investigation denying any wrongdoing, recently Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal also insisted that instead of forum shopping, the companies should let the CCI investigate if they were doing honest business, adding that the reluctance showed they weren't doing it right.

"It fully vindicates the stand of CAIT that Amazon and Flipkart business model is entirely based on violating the FDI policy, rules and other laws, mischievous business practices, therefore, without wasting any more time, the CCI should immediately begin its probe," said B.C.Bhartia, National President and Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

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