TN case raises questions

Governor’s Conduct

By Insaf
Is Tamil Nadu Governor undermining the faith and trust attached to the constitutional post, is a question doing the rounds in the legal fraternity. Governor Banwaril Purohit has been sitting on the Cabinet’s recommendation of September 2018 to release all seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Exasperated by Raj Bhavan’s dithering, a division bench of Madras High Court warned on Wednesday last it will be ‘constrained to interfere if the constitutional authority failed to take a decision in a reasonable time.’ It was hearing a habeas corpus petition by one of the convict Perairvalam’s mother seeking 3 months parole on medical grounds and asked the public prosecutor to respond. The court chose to send a strong message that even though the Governor cannot reject the State’s recommendation nor there is a time limit prescribed for a decision to be taken, he can’t simply linger on. Raj Bhavan must communicate its decision soon, or else be prepared for the consequences. The next hearing is on Thursday. Will the push come to a shove?

Gujarat Police Code
It’s incredible. Gujarat police chooses to police itself. An outright clamp down on social media! Its personnel can’t step out of line. In the wake of growing campaigns seeking wage hike for constable rank personnel, State DGP Jha on Monday last, issued a circular titled “Code of Conduct” for ‘members of Police using social media for public and private use’. Viewing the posts as ‘an attempt to create unrest among personnel’ he said “any attempt to break unity of khakhi will not be tolerated and such police personnel who are part of the campaign will face legal and departmental action…” Accordingly, the code notification spells out don’ts: not to post critical comments on government or police department publicly; not post or transmit any service related application; not post any personal opinion while using social media for government work etc. Jha argues ‘police don’t enjoy same rights as citizens or other government staff due to nature of their job.. Policing is not an ordinary job, but a service towards society and country. It cannot be compared with any other government job… if someone works in the department without the feeling of service, they cannot serve the society with the best police model…” Here the critical point would be who defines this “feeling of service”? Speaking against injustice, would be wrong?

Rajasthan Drama
Nagging uncertainty continues in Rajasthan’s political landscape. This time, round two seems to have gone to ‘disgruntled Congress’ Sachin Pilot. On Friday last, Rajasthan High Court ordered status quo to be maintained in disqualification case against him and his flock of 18 other MLAs. Speaker Joshi has been barred from acting on his disqualification notices on basis that Pilot and his supporters didn’t attend the party’s CLP meetings. While Pilot has contesting it saying that a whip can be issued only during Assembly, the matter will be hard again by the SC. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is getting set to have a session of the State Assembly convened soon to prove his majority, even though opposition BJP has not asked for it. Be that as it may, Gehlot would await a nod from Governor Kalraj Mishra, whom he has been meeting. How soon will Raj Bhavan oblige is big question. Normally it a notice requires 21 days, but if it’s emergency Assembly can be convened with 24 hours’ notice. Will drama get murkier?
Monsoon Havoc
Monsoon wreaks havoc again. On Thursday last, the flood situation in Assam and Bihar remained grim, with N Bengal showing several rivers in spate of rising. Worse, UNICEF said 2.4 million children may have been affected in floods across the country and need immediate support. In Assam 28.32 lakh people in 26 of its 33 districts have been affected, 1,19 lakh hectares of crop areas damaged and a population of over 26 lakh suffering. In Bihar, about 7.65 lakh have been affected even though no loss of life is reported. Rescue operations are on. However, UNICEF notes over 6 million people across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal have been affected by the floods, including an estimated 2.4 million children. It urges immediate support, more resources and innovative programmes’ to urgently address the challenges that these threats represent particularly to the region’s children. Importantly, Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi too has urged the Centre to find out a permanent solution to this perennial problem of floods, year after year. The question is why can’t we think long-term?

Manipur Gets Centre Attention
New Delhi has found a way to divert attention from the recent political drama as well as gold smuggling case in Manipur. On Thursday last, Prime Minister Modi chose to give a ‘raksha bandhan gift’ to the women in this north-eastern State by laying the foundation stone for over Rs 3000 crore water supply project. This shall give ‘clean drinking water to Greater Imphal and 1,700 villages in Manipur…provide a lifeline to these people, and help women in as many as one lakh families in the state.’ The timing is of interest. Recall last month, in mid-June, the BJP-led government was on the brink with the No 2 in the government withdrawing support. And it was none other than Union Home Minister Amit Shah who had to douse the fire and ensured the 4 NPP MLAs ‘ghar wapasi.’ But given chequered history, there is no room for complacency. This water supply project, a component of the national ‘Har Ghar Jal’ goal by 2024, should finally bring water in taps of thousands of homes, generate employment but should help Chief Minister Biren Singh flog the point shall that the State has “developed” under BJP regime. Will the differences get buried? Perhaps, the project would literally make the ruling BJP say that was all water under the bridge!

Wear That Mask, Or Else
It’s going to pinch your pocket and health, is a stern warning from Jharkhand. A whopping fine up to Rs one lakh and a jail term up to 2 years is what the Cabinet approved to rein in those not wearing mask or spitting in public places. With infection tally up to 6682 on Wednesday last, the Soren government decided to crack the whip. Much harder than other States or cities though. In Ahemdabad it ranges from Rs 200-500, plus it shall penalise owners of paan shops with Rs 10,000 fine if people are caught spitting in its vicinity. So far the corporation has earned Rs 1.52 crore since May till mid-July with 1.72 lakh persons fined and 94 places sealed for violation of wearing masks/social distancing norms. Some stagger the fine too: Kerala -Rs 200 for first-time offence and Rs 5,000 for repeat offenders), while Odisha— first three violations Rs 200 each time, 4th instance and beyond is Rs 500 each; Haryana, Pune, Chandigarh fine Rs 500, whereas Delhi is anything between Rs 200-1000 and jail for up to 6 months. Interestingly, Bihar is practical with lowest fine of Rs 50 and those flouting the rule are to be given two masks free to motivate them! — INFA