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Archives for : December2017

India leprosy patient’s pension restored after outrage over #Aadhaar card

Officials take Sajida Begum's picture for her Aadhaar cardImage copyrightBANGALORE NEWS PHOTOS
Image captionSajida Begum’s case had caused outrage in India

A leprosy patient in the south Indian city of Bangalore who lost her pension as she was unable to provide biometric data has now been given a new identity card to restore her welfare payment.

Sajida Begum, 65, who is blind and has lost her fingers, was unable to provide fingerprints and a retina scan to obtain her Aadhaar card.

The card has been made mandatory for those accessing welfare schemes.

Her case outraged many in India, where there is strong opposition to Aadhaar.

Aadhaar, which means foundation, started out as a voluntary programme to help tackle benefit fraud.

However, it has become increasingly necessary for financial transactions and access to welfare.

Sajida Begum told BBC Hindi’s Imran Qureshi that she had not received her monthly pension of 1,000 rupees ($15; £11) for four months because she had missed a deadline to link her pension account to an Aadhaar card.

She said she would use her reinstated pension to buy extra cups of tea and a small plate of snacks from the canteen at the hospital where she is a permanent resident.

Sajida BegumImage copyrightBANGALORE NEWS PHOTOS
Image captionSajida Begum will now get her pension of $11 a month

A member of the hospital staff told BBC Hindi that officials from the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) visited the hospital to give her a new card.

“The doctor’s fingerprints were taken as authentication for the leprosy patient and the cards will be issued,” a UIDAI official said.

Sajida Begum’s story, which first appeared in a local city newspaper, attracted a lot of attention in India.

Those opposed to the Aadhaar scheme say the government should not be allowed to forcibly take people’s biometric details.

Activists have also raised concerns over the security of what can be described as the world’s biggest biometric database.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-42234732

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India – No savings from #Aadhaar; it’s just puffery

Gopal Krishna, P
Unless the total estimated budget of the Aadhaar project is revealed, all claims of benefits are suspect and untrustworthy.

No savings from Aadhaar; it’s just puffery

Gopal Krishna

Public policy researcher, Convener, Citizens Forum for Civil LibertiesAT  the recent Global Conference on Cyber Space Prime Minister Modi said, “I am sure most of you are already aware of Aadhaar, which is the unique biometric identity of a person…Through better targeting of subsidies, the JAM trinity has prevented leakages to the tune of nearly 10 billion dollars so far.” Sometime back, former head of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Nandan Nilekani had claimed in Washington that so far, the government has saved about $9 billion by eliminating fraud in beneficiary lists due to 12-digit biometric Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar Numbers being fed into Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR). These questionable claims about savings from UID/Aadhaar have been widely reported.  However, most such claims have been published without verifying the source of the data. Given the fact that these claims are based on reports of the World Bank it is relevant to recall the veracity of the bank’s own claims.

 

 

The World Bank report of 2016 claimed that Aadhaar can save Rs 70, 000 crore annually once Aadhaar is applied to all social programmes and welfare systems. This has been submitted as part of the Central government’s reply to a writ petition before the Supreme Court. The affidavit of April 27, 2017 enclosed the relevant portions of the 359-page World Bank report of 2016 on digital dividends (page 195) to underline the imminent savings “through reduce(d) leakage and efficiency gains”. This data of 11 billion refers to page 197 of the report that is based on a four-page 2015 study titled From Cash to Digital Transfers in India:

The Story So Far by Shweta S. Banerjee. Shweta works on the Microfinance Gateway which is housed at the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). On page 1,  it is stated: “The value of these transfers is estimated to be Rs 70,000 crores ($11.3 billion) per annum.” It is manifest that it is making a claim about the total value of the money that has been transferred and not about savings as a result of adopting a direct cash transfer model. The source of data cited in this study has conclusively been established to be questionable and unreliable and a major goof. Such claims have been debunked by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India as well. If the bank’s own data has been found to be ‘puffery’, how can its volunteer’s claims inspire trust? Now that the bank has admitted its blunder in writing, it is time it came out with a clarification to ensure that misleading claims about such savings can be buried “ten fathom deep, with no chance of resurrection.” All ministers, agencies and publications reproducing the Bank’s Himalayan blunder of equating value of “transfers” with “savings in subsidy” in its study are either guilty or complicit in this not-so “innocent fraud”. 

 

As to claims about savings from the Aadhaar project, insincerity has been evident from the outset. During Niekani’s tenure  at UIDAI, the  Sinha-headed Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in its Sixty-Ninth Report on the ‘Demands for Grants (2013-14)’ observed, “A provision of Rs. 2,620 crore has been allocated in Budget Estimate (2013-14) for UIDAI and a major part of the budget provision for Rs. 1,040 crore is earmarked for ‘Enrolment Authentication and Updation’, out of which an amount of Rs 1,000 crore has been earmarked under the head ‘other charges’.” The total budgetary allocations made for UIDAI since its inception up to 31 March 2014 was Rs 5440.30 crore. For 2009-10, it was Rs 120 crore. For 2010-11, it was Rs 1,900 crore. For 2011-12, it was Rs 1,470 crores 1,200. For 2012-13, it was 1,758 crore and for 2013-14, it was Rs 2,620.00 crore. For the year 2014-15, the budget estimate was Rs 2,039 crore. T

 

The budget estimate of expenditure on the project being implemented by UIDAI was Rs 2,000 crore in 20015-16. For the year 2016-17, the estimate was Rs 990 crore (including Rs 190 crore first supplementary). As of February 2017, the UIDAI has incurred a cumulative expenditure of Rs 8,536.83 crore. This includes undefined “other charges” pointed out by the Parliamentary Committee. 

 

Shouldn’t the UIDAI provide the details of the expenses incurred under “other charges”? Take the case of 2009-10 when the budget estimate was Rs 120 crore and the final expenditure was Rs 26.21 crore. In 2015-16, the budget estimate was Rs 2,000 crore but the final expenditure was Rs 1,679 crore. In 2016-17, when budget estimate was Rs 990 crore, the final expenditure is Rs 877.16 crore up to February 2017.  Besides this, the Parliamentary Committee wondered in its report as to why inflated targets were consistently being given. 

 

The estimated budget of the biometric Aadhaar number project has not been disclosed despite demand for it while seeking cost: benefit analysis. Unless the total estimated budget of the project is revealed, all claims of benefits are suspect and untrustworthy. How can one know about total savings unless the total cost is disclosed?

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/no-savings-from-aadhaar-it-s-just-puffery/506630.html

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Can students with mental, visual and hearing impairment be clubbed with others, asks SC

Dhananjay Mahapatra| TNN | 

File photo for representation onlyFile photo for representation only
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court was in for a surprise on Monday as it found that Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, mandated no special educational techniques for students suffering from different kinds of impairment and to make them part of mainstream education.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said it defied common sense that students with mental, visual, speech and hearing impairment could be put with other students in an educational institution as per the mandate of the law while agreeing that physically challenged students could be clubbed with other children to get education in regular schools.

The bench was of the view that special students would require education in special schools with specially trained teachers.

With advocate Ashok Agarwal pointing out the mandate of the law, the bench asked Uttar Pradesh’s additional advocate general Aishwarya Bhati to file an affidavit signed by the education secretary detailing the steps taken by the state “to work out the provisions of the Act”.

“The said authority, while filing the affidavit, shall keep in view the language employed in Section 3 of the Act which deals with equality and non-discrimination. The affidavit shall also contain the number of disabled children in the state and the categories of disability,” it said.

Bhati told the court, “Sixteen special schools have been made functional in the state with appointment of teachers. The special schools are imparting education to visually impaired, hearing and speech impaired, mentally disabled and physically disabled children. These schools have residential facilities and they also admit students who belong to non-residential category.”

The court said in its order, “We have been apprised that seven schools for visually impaired are situated in Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Banda, Saharanpur and Meerut and five schools for hearing and speech impaired in Gorakhpur, Bareilly, Agra, Farukhabad and Lucknow. As far as mental disability is concerned, there are two schools which are running at Allahabad and Lucknow. There are two special schools for the physically disabled at Lucknow and Pratapgarh. That apart, Bhati submits that 17 more schools are under construction.”

However, the proceedings took a different turn when Agarwal pointed out that Section 16 of the Act provided that “inclusive education” means a system of education wherein students with and without disability learn together and the system of teaching and learning is suitably adapted to meet the learning needs of different types of students with disabilities.

He said Section 17 of the Act provided for specific measures for promotion and facilitation of inclusive education so that students with disabilities are not kept away from the mainstream of education.

The court constituted a two-member panel of advocates comprising Rishi Malhotra and Gopal Shankaranarayanan to visit the 16 special schools in UP and submit a status report to the court in six weeks.

The bench was hearing a plea filed by Rajneesh Kumar Pandey, through advocate Prashant Shukla, claiming lack of sufficient number of special educators in Uttar Pradesh and other states to teach the Children With Special Needs (CWSN).

The petition by 17 teachers, who claim to have undertaken the training required to teach CWSN, has contended that to make Right to Education a success, it is necessary that qualified special educators are there in each school to help disabled kids prepare to face the challenges of life.https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/can-students-with-mental-visual-and-hearing-impairment-be-clubbed-with-others-asks-sc/articleshow/61923670.cms

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India – Why We Remember 6 December

 

The destruction of the Babri Masjid set in motion events that are still unfolding.

It was no less than a clarion call to the Hindutva brigade to be prepared for action. On 24 November 2017, the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Mohan Bhagwat announced that a Ram temple would be built in Ayodhya. “This is a firm fact and is not going to change,” he said. “The moment of it becoming a reality is near and we need to make the efforts to ensure it happens.”

The statement is no surprise. Nor the venue where it was made, a Dharma Sansad organised by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Udupi, Karnataka. What is notable is the timing, a fortnight before we mark 25 years since the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992. It also comes days before the Supreme Court takes up the appeal against the Allahabad High Court judgment on the Babri Masjid/Ram Janmabhoomi dispute. The court’s ruling that the 2.77 acre disputed property, where the Babri Masjid once stood, should be divided between the Sunni Wakf Board, Ram Lalla (considered the main deity), and the Nirmohi Akhara, has been challenged.

By raising the Ram Janmabhoomi issue just before Gujarat votes in the assembly elections, Bhagwat is sending out a clear signal to the ruling party that it should not forget that it was the mobilisation around the Ram temple that initially gave it a leg- up politically. Since 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not used the Ram Janmabhoomi issue as an election strategy but clearly, if the vikas (development) plank does not work, the fallback strategy will be strident Hindutva. This is already becoming evident in Gujarat. The unequivocal tone of Bhagwat’s statement also reminds us that for the RSS, and the BJP, there is no dispute as far as Ram Janmabhoomi is concerned. It was settled on 6 December 1992 when hundreds of kar sevaks, carrying pickaxes and rods, clambered over the 16th century mosque, in full view of police, politicians and the media, and reduced it to dust. They claimed then that they were avenging a historical wrong. They ended up altering, perhaps irreversibly, the contemporary history of independent India.

To remember 6 December 1992 is to acknowledge that history consists of inflection points, of triggers that began the changes that we only recognise after a time lapse. On that day, when the images from Ayodhya made their way through a live broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), as the current Indian cacophonous news channels did not exist then, to all parts of the country, there was apprehension of trouble. But we were not to know then that this callous and destructive act, on the part of people who believe that history needs to be erased to construct the new narrative they want to impose on India, would set in motion a level of brutality and hatred we had not seen for some decades.

For the city of Mumbai, then Bombay, the aftermath was particularly traumatic. Living under the delusion that it was “cosmopolitan”, that Hindus and Muslims lived together with tolerance, and as joint sufferers of urban blight, the rage that spilled onto the streets and neighbourhoods after 6 December left even the most complacent shaken. Twenty-five years later, the fact that the perpetrators of the violence and killings, as well as those who planned, encouraged and cheered as their foot soldiers destroyed a mosque, still remain unpunished, has ensured that there is no closure. Compounding this has been the absence of political will on the part of successive administrations, irrespective of their political colour, to ensure that those guilty of these crimes are punished. Together this has fertilised the ground for the phenomenal growth of sectarian and majoritarian ideologies in India in the last 25 years.

What these 25 years have also marked is not just the ascendance of the BJP in politics but also the explosive growth of sectarian hatred to the point where Muslims are afraid to exhibit any outward symbols of identity. Only last week, three men wearing namaaz caps and scarves were beaten on a train in western Uttar Pradesh. The attackers mocked them saying, “You wear caps? We will teach you to wear caps.” We also cannot forget that earlier, 16-year-old Junaid Khan was stabbed to death for no other reason than that he was identified as a Muslim. From celebrating the destruction of a structure to creating permanent structures of oppression for a minority is indeed a deadly journey.

There is good reason then to reflect and to remember, especially at a time when all reason appears to have been abandoned as the line between cultural memory, tradition, and historical fact is being erased. As historian Harbans Mukhia points out in the special issue that looks back at 6 December (p 25), even the process that led to the belief that a Ram temple once stood on the spot where the Babri Masjid was built, illustrates the blurred lines between tradition and historical evidence. It is also evident in 2017, that what was set in motion on 6 December is, as political scientist Zoya Hasan points out (p 28), the initiation of a “new deference to Hindu sensibilities in the public sphere” as also “the subordination and subjugation of the minorities.” And as for Mumbai, the party named by a judicial commission as responsible for violence is now in power, and almost no one has been punished. The aftermath of 6 December lives on.

http://www.epw.in/25-years-after-babri-masjid-EPW-special

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Rajasthan – Jan Swasthya Abhiyan demands universal free treatment

Rajasthan government spends only Rs 904 per capita on health

Narendra Gupta, convenor of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan.File photoFile photo

Rajasthan listed as one of the States with low expenditure on health care

With the National Health Accounts Estimates 2014-15 report listing Rajasthan as one of the States with low per capita expenditure on healthcare, a health activists’ group here has demanded universal free treatment to all and an immediate halt to handing over of the government health institutions to private operators for management.

Centre’s report

The report, released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday, shows that the total health expenditure per capita in the State is at Rs. 2,943. Of the total spending of Rs. 21,188 crore on health in2014-15, only Rs. 6,511 crore was spent by the State government.

This calculates to the government spending only Rs. 904 per capita or 3.5% of the Gross State Domestic Product. The remaining amount was mostly borne out of pocket by the patients, the Rajasthan Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, functioning as the State chapter of People’s Health Movement, pointed out on Thursday.

Even though the infant mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio and fertility rate are high in Rajasthan, the State ironically has lesser spending per disease than the majority of other States. “The fact that the overall expenditure is one of the lowest indicates that the people themselves do not have enough resources to pay for their treatment,” said Abhiyan’s convenor Narendra Gupta.

“Gross inadequacy”

Even one-fourth of the total public health facilities in the State had not attained the Public Health Standards formulated by the Union government in 2005, said Dr. Gupta, adding that there was “gross inadequacy” of infrastructure and human resource for health.

The Jan Swasthya Abhiyan has demanded that the State government take note of the report and allocate Rs. 2,000 per capita annually for healthcare and equip all public health institutions with adequate infrastructure and human resource to attain the health standards by 2018-end.

Out-of-pocket spending

Besides, the out-of-pocket spending should be brought down to 40% or less of the total expenditure on healthcare by initiating the facility of universal free treatment to all, rather than keeping it selective.

The Abhiyan also called for an immediate halt to the State government handing over public health institutions to private operators for management and financial allocations to the latter.

Health centres require ventilator support, qualified doctors, and trained nurses to prevent infant deaths. An analysis by health activists shows per capita health expenditure in Rajasthan was one of the lowest in the country.

Infant mortality rate (IMR) in Rajasthan, according to the Sample Registration System (SRS) 2016, was 41 per 1,000 live births; in 2015, the IMR was 43.

Out of Rs 21,188 crore expenditure on health in 2014-15, the state government spent only Rs 6511 crore, said Dr Narendra Gupta, Rajasthan convener of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan. Quoting a report of National Health Accounts 2014-15, released by the union ministry of health and family welfare, he said the Rajasthan government’s per head spending on health was Rs 2,943.

The government spends 30%, and 70% of the amount spent comes from private pockets, Narendra said. “With so low spending, healthcare cannot be managed.”

The main reasons for infant deaths are birth asphyxia, low birth weight, congenital diseases, infections, and diarrhoea. Birth asphyxia is a medical condition in which newborn does not get oxygen supply during the birth process.

Dr Narendra said, “All public health institutions of the state should be equipped with infrastructure and human resources to attain Indian public health standards by the end of 2018; out-of-pocket spending should be brought down to 40%, and handing over of government health institutions to private operators for management be immediately stopped.”

JK Lone hospital superintendent Dr Ashok Gupta said, “Low birth weight and premature baby are major reasons behind newborn deaths. Management of newborns is a cost-intensive process. It requires ventilator support, qualified doctors, and trained nurses among other facilities.”

Nutrition of adolescent girls needs to be improved and childbirth age upped to reduce newborn deaths, Gupta said. “There should be space between childbirths, and deliveries should be institutionalised. Adequate infant care and emergency services, referral support and proper transport system should be ensured.”

Principal secretary, medical and health, Veenu Gupta said Chirayu programme was launched in June this year at eight districts — Barmer, Dholpur, Karauli, Jalore, Rajsamand, Sawai Madhopur, Sirohi and Udaipur — to bring down IMR.

“Newborn services were strengthened at primary and community health centres, and district hospitals.”

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Protesters Demanding Justice for Gauri Arrested in Bangalore #WTFnews

Several dozens of activists were arrested in Bangalore and kept in Ashok Nagar Police Station for attempting to organize a peaceful protest towards the Chief Minister’s residence. The demonstrators were concerned that despite 90 days, the culprits of murder of Gauri Lankesh were still not arrested.

 

The protesting organizations and citizens of Bangalore included Kavita Lankesh (film maker and sister of Gauri), Ashok from Komusouhardika Vedike, women’s activist Champa, Mallike from Janashakti, Adv. Narasimha Murthi, Yogesh Master and many other activists, organisations and citizens. 


The Karnataka police seems to be trying to arrest those who demand justice for Gauri, rather than the culprits of murder of writer/journalist/activist Gauri Lankesh. The activists condemned the deteriorating status of freedom of expression in India.

Gauri Lankesh murder: Activists condemn delay in probe

Former Minister AK Subbaiah and Veteran Freedom Fighter HS Doreswamy seen duirng the announcement a Trust in the name of Slained Jounalist Gouri Lankesh in Bengaluru on Monday.| Vinod Kumar T

BENGALURU: Social activists on Monday pulled up the state government for the delay in identifying the persons behind the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh.At an event organised for the inauguration of the Gauri Memorial Trust, activist Teesta Setalvad said there was a need to question the Karnataka government regarding progress made in the murder probe. “What is happening with the probe? Who are the killers? These should be made public and we cannot afford a culture of silence,” she said.

Criticising the BJP for “sowing communal discord” in the state ahead of the Assembly elections, she said divisive tactics are being employed in different parts of the state to create violence.The trust was set up under the leadership of freedom fighter H S Doreswamy, with writer Devanuru Mahadeva, activists Teesta Setalvad, Chukki Nanjundswamy and others as members.The activists will also take out a protest rally to the Chief Minister’s residence on Tuesday demanding the arrest of the culprits behind Gauri’s murder.

Activists of the Gauri Hatya Virodhi Vedike gathered in protest at Anand Rao circle in the city. DH photo.Activists of the Gauri Hatya Virodhi Vedike gathered in protest at Anand Rao circle in the city. DH photo.

Activists of the Gauri Hatya Virodhi Vedike gathered in protest at Anand Rao circle in the city on Tuesday decrying the slow pace in which investigations into journalist Gauri Lankesh’ murder are progressing.

Demanding a true response by none other than Chief Minister Siddraramaiah, as to why there has been no progress in the investigations into the murders of Gauri Lankesh and writer Prof M M Kalburgi earlier.

“The government has failed to bring the murderers to justice,” they said. Three months have passed since Gowri’s murder and 30 months since Prof Kalburgi’s murder.

Gauri’s sister Kavitha Lankesh, Vedike president Ananth Nayak and others participated. The police arrested them when they neared the CM’s official residence. Among those taken into custody were writer Chandrashekhara Patela and Kavitha Lankesh.

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Hindutva Radicals Vandalise ‘Game of Ayodhya’ Film Director’s House, Threaten to Kill Him #FOE

Anuja Jaiswal| TNN |

Agra: A group of protesting right-wing activists allegedly blackened the wall of the residence of Sunil Singh, director of the controversial movie ‘Games of Ayodhya’, in Aligarh on Sunday. They also put a lock on the gate of his house, as a mark of protest against the release of the movie.

Protests against the movie have gained momentum in Aligarh over the past week. The movie is slated for release on December 8.

According to police officials, personnel from three police stations along with Rapid Action Force were deployed outside the director’s house to avoid any untoward incident. However, except a security guard, no one was present at the house when the protest took place.

Renu Singh, additional city magistrate (ACM) II, who arrived at the spot, said the situation was under control.

Talking to TOI, director Sunil Singh, who is also the national president of Lok Dal expressed shock at the incident. He said, “The people who did this are self-proclaimed arbiters of religion. Police should have prevented them from committing these acts. If the Censor Board has approved the movie, who are they to stop its release? They are threatening to kill me and set fire to my house, and police has been keeping mum.”

Singh claimed that the movie is based on “truth” and there are no distortions in it, as being claimed by some. “These so-called Hintutva activists are not ready to accept the truth, but people need to know the truth behind the events,” he said. Singh added that he was trying to get the movie screened at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) before its release in theatres and he was in touch with university authorities.

“The purpose behind screening the movie at AMU is to clarify to the other community that there is nothing against them in the movie,” Singh said.

However, university authorities claimed that they were not aware of any plans for screening the movie in the campus and maintained that they would not allow it.

Yogesh Varshney, city president of Hindu Jagran Manch in Aligarh said that they would not allow the movie to be released in Aligarh. He said, “Today we have blackened the wall of Singh’s house. If he doesn’t back down, we will kill him.”

Aligarh senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rajesh Pandey said that police will file an FIR if any complaint is received regarding the incident.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/protesters-blacken-wall-of-games-of-ayodhya-movie-directors-house-threaten-to-kill-him/

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SC questions need of 119 laws discriminating against leprosy- afflicted people

The court said there is no justification to treat a leprosy-afflicted person as a man to be kept away from the mainstream and suffer from ignominy that the disease is infectious or something to do with genetics.

Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A patient pays respect to a nun at the Gandhiji Prem Nivas, a leprosy centre conducted by Missionaries of Charity in Titagarh, north of Kolkata.
A patient pays respect to a nun at the Gandhiji Prem Nivas, a leprosy centre conducted by Missionaries of Charity in Titagarh, north of Kolkata.(AP FILE PHOTO)

A PIL highlighting the violation of fundamental rights of leprosy-affected persons due to existence of archaic central and state laws prompted the Supreme Court to ask the Centre on Monday whether such provisions need to continue in statute books.

Filed by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy (VCLP), the petition listed 119 laws that discriminate against leprosy patients and stigmatise them.

Such outdated provisions deny them access to public services, impose disqualifications on them under personal laws and prohibited them from occupying or standing for public posts or office, the plea said.

“The seminal issue highlighted in the petition is in the third decade of 21st century. There is no justification to treat a person suffering from leprosy as a man to be kept away from the mainstream and suffer from ignominy that the disease is infectious or something to do with genetics.

“With the discovery of modern medicine, the disease is curable,” a bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, giving eight weeks notice to the Centre for placing its response.

VCLP supported its case by citing several provisions from various laws. One such is Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 that allows dissolution of marriage if one of the partners has been “suffering from a virulent and incurable form of leprosy.”

Similarly, Section 2 of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act 1939 and Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act 1954, Section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956; Section 18 of the Jammu And Kashmir Hindu Adoptions And Maintenance Act 1960; Section 13 of the Jammu And Kashmir Hindu Marriage Act 1980 and Section 2 of the Jammu And Kashmir Dissolution Of Muslim Marriages Act 1999 perpetuate the stigmatization of those affected by leprosy.

The Orissa Municipal Corporation Act, 2003 disqualifies a leprosy patient from contesting the civil polls. Even the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, has a provision that bars someone infected with the disease from fighting the elections for the post of a panch or any other member of the institution.

Section 35(2) of the Karnataka Rajya Dr. Gangubai Hangal Sangeetha Mattu Pradarshaka Kalegala Vishwavidyalaya Act, 2009, empowers the Syndicate of the University to remove those persons from membership of any authority of the University who suffers from leprosy. One of the objects of this law it to prevent transmission of the disease.

Some of the impugned provisions VCLP has quoted violate the right to move freely throughout the territory of India and the right to practise any profession.

Such restrictions, VCLP contended, are not reasonable restrictions in the interests of the general public, in the light of medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy that render the disease non-infectious.

Senior advocate Raju Ramchandran cited the Law Commission’s 256th report that recommended the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy.

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UP- #Aadhaar must for disabled to travel free in buses #WTFnews

Maria Khan

HIGHLIGHTS

  • UPSRTC managing director made it mandatory for disabled people to carry their Aadhaar cards or a photocopy of it, along with the disability certificate to avail a free ride
  • The Aadhaar card of a disabled passenger will be linked to their disability certificates

Only a person with 40% disability is authorised to travel freeOnly a person with 40% disability is authorised to travel free

BAREILLY: Physically challenged passengers will need to carry their Aadhaar cards to avail the free rides that they are entitled to in Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) buses.

Corporation officials said the move, which is to be implemented from January 2018, was meant to curb cases of people producing fake disability certificates to get free rides. UPSRTC managing director P Guruprasad recently made it mandatory for disabled people to carry their Aadhaar cards or a photocopy of it, along with the disability certificate to avail a free ride.

Talking to TOI, UPSRTC chief general manager HS Gaba said, “Cases of people producing fake disability certificates were recently registered at the department, following which the state government took the initiative of making it mandatory for differently- abled persons to produce their Aadhaar cards along with other relevant documents. The disability certificate isn’t a foolproof way of confirming identity as people often carry fake certificates or borrow genuine ones from people they know to avail the perk. People even paste their picture on someone else’s certificate and get a photocopy done to pass it off as their own. Thus, chances of faking an identity remain high and our purpose is to curb misuse of the facility.”

Gaba added, “Now, the Aadhaar card of a disabled passenger will be linked to their disability certificates. The Aadhaar card contains authentic information of a person and in case there is fraud, he will get caught. Once Aadhaar cards are made mandatory, a person will think twice before committing fraud.” Rajeev Chauhan, UPSRTC regional manager, Bareilly division said, “According to the corporation’s guidelines, only a person with 40% disability is authorised to travel free in its buses.

However, many people, despite having only 5 to 10% disability borrow certificates from genuine beneficiaries (who have 40% disability) to avail the facility, which is illegal.”

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Statement on the Supreme Court order dismissing the CJAR petition and imposing unprecedented costs

The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) strongly disagrees with the order of the Supreme Court dismissing the Writ Petition filed by the Campaign to ensure a fair and impartial investigation into the allegations of bribery of judges of the higher judiciary, to obtain favourable orders for medical colleges.

To briefly recap the facts: The CBI registered a FIR in the case of Prasad Education Trust based on evidence gathered, of a criminal conspiracy including preparation and planning to pay large sums as bribes to procure a judgement in favour of the medical college, from the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court. As is widely known, the process for granting permission to private medical colleges has been steeped in corruption. In this particular case, the Prasad Education Trust was seeking relief against the decision of the MCI to deny their medical college permission to operate and the decision of the MCI to confiscate the caution money of the trust in view of the flagrant violations of the terms and conditions for operating a medical college. The college was able to secure partial relief in the case.

An investigation by a government controlled agency like the CBI into a case concerning the Judges of the Supreme Court could seriously compromise the independence of the judiciary. In this case, there was particular concern as the matter of the medical college was being heard by a bench headed by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India himself. Therefore, CJAR filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking that such a sensitive investigation should not be left in the hands of a government controlled agency and should be undertaken by a Special Investigative Team headed by a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and monitored by the Supreme Court itself.

CJAR prayed before the court that the petition should be heard by judges other than those who had served on the bench hearing the matter of the medical college. CJAR requested that the petition be dealt with by the five senior most judges of the Supreme Court, excluding the CJI, so that the monitoring of this investigation would be robust and fair, and to ensure that there was no compromise in the integrity of the investigation. This would be also be in keeping with the fundamental principle that no one should be a judge in their own case.

A related matter was filed by Kamini Jaiswal which was referred by the second senior most Judge of the Supreme Court, to a Constitution Bench comprising the 5 senior most judges of the Court. However, the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India intervened and dealt with the petitions on the administrative side as well as the judicial side.

The Code of Conduct formulated in a Conference of all the Chief Justices in the country in 1997 which has been laid down in the ‘Restatement of Values of Judicial Life’, says in the very first code that:

“1. Justice must not merely be done but it must also be seen to be done. The behaviour and conduct of members of the higher judiciary must reaffirm the people’s faith in the impartiality of the judiciary. Accordingly any act of the judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court, whether in official or personal capacity, which erodes the credibility of this perception has to be avoided.”

The actions of the Hon’ble Chief Justice in this case clearly violate this salutary Code of Conduct.

The bench comprising of Justice R.K. Agarwal, Justice A. Mishra and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar has now passed the order dismissing the CJAR petition by holding it to be mala fide and intended to defame the Supreme Court and the Judiciary and has imposed costs of Rs. 25 lakhs on the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms. As Justice Khanwilkar was also on the bench which heard the medical college case, we believe that he should have recused himself from this bench.

The Campaign for Judicial Accountability And Reforms was set up more than a decade ago and comprises of representatives of many national campaigns and social movements and citizens from all walks of life who have come together to campaign for the accountability of the higher Judiciary and reforms in the judiciary. Contrary to the charge against the campaign that this was a mala fide petition intended to defame the Judiciary, CJAR had approached the court with the intention to protect the independence, integrity and reputation of the Supreme Court and the judiciary in general. CJAR was not making any allegations. It was only seeking a court monitored independent investigation into the issues recorded in the FIR filed by the CBI.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has held that approaching the court to seek a court monitored investigation into serious charges of conspiracy, preparation and planning to bribe the Judges of the Supreme Court in a case before the court, is an attempt to defame the court. The court has also said that this FIR does not involve any judges. We believe that such a statement cannot be made when the FIR clearly states that there was a conspiracy to procure a favourable judgement from the Supreme Court by paying large bribes. Obviously bribes to procure a favourable judgement from the Supreme Court, cannot be paid to any other officials except to the judges themselves. Only an independent investigation could have cleared this allegation.

It has also come to light that the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India has reportedly denied permission to CBI to register an FIR against a sitting judge of the Allahabad High Court allegedly involved in this matter. The reported denial by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India and the judgement of the Supreme Court in the matter, has in effect ensured that there will be no investigation of sitting judges in this matter.

The Campaign has taken up many cases of judicial corruption and has made several complaints to various Chief Justices under the in-house mechanism, for investigating charges of misconduct against judges. We believe that the unprecedented order imposing costs of Rs. 25 lakh on CJAR is a case of “costs in terrorem” in an attempt to intimidate the Campaign into not taking up cases of judicial misconduct and corruption and deter it from demanding accountability of the judiciary. Further, the order is in violation of the principles of natural justice, as CJAR was not given any notice of the court’s intention to impose costs and further, it was not given an opportunity to contest the decision to impose costs.

The refusal of the court to allow an independent probe into the allegations of corruption (as recorded in the CBI’s FIR) and through its conduct in this case, the Supreme Court has itself brought down the esteem of the judiciary in the public’s eyes – especially those who look up on it as the most important constitutional guardian of the rights of the people against executive and legislative excesses.

However, this order of the Supreme Court and its decision to impose costs of Rs. 25 lakh will not deter CJAR. We will challenge the order and fight it tooth and nail through every legal channel and remedy. In the coming few days, we will be filing a review petition. This judgement is only going to strengthen the Campaign and energise us to carry forward our efforts and campaigns. We will also put forth our demand for an independent probe into the allegations of conspiracy and corruption through all available forums. Since the pronouncement of the judgement, several groups and citizens from all across India have sent in messages of support urging CJAR to carry forward its work.

We believe that the people of this country are the real stakeholders in the institution of the Judiciary and in the judicial system. They are groaning under a system which has enormous problems and requires serious reforms of all kinds including a robust and credible system for investigating complaints against judges and holding them accountable for their misconduct and corruption. The actions of the Supreme Court in this case will now be judged by the people’s court which is the ultimate court in the country

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