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Daily NEWS Summary: 13.01.2021

Agriculture Ministry denies RTI consultation on agricultural law consultations, saying it is sub judice

Agriculture Ministry rejected Right to Information (RTI) request for details on pre-legislative consultations on agricultural laws. Agricultural reform, saying the matter is being adjudicated.

  • In its response, the ministry cited the clause in the RTI Act that exempts information whose publication has been expressly prohibited by a court or whose disclosure amounts to contempt of court.
  • This follows an earlier response indicating that the ministry had no record of such investigations. RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj submitted her request on December 11, asking for specific details of the stakeholder consultations held before the Center passed three ordinances on agricultural reforms in June.
  • Within 30 days of responding, two central information officers from the ministry’s agricultural marketing divisions responded to his request, saying they had no record of such inquiries.
  • On January 13, Bhardwaj received a further response from a CPIO that had previously approved the request. “It is reported that the requested information has been challenged before several honorable high courts, as well as the Supreme Court of India.
  • As such, being a sub-judice case, it may not be possible at this time to provide information under section 8 (1) (b) of the RTI Act 2005 ”, the CPIO said, adding that the delay in responding is due to the Covid-19 situation.
  • Bhardwaj appealed the denial of information, noting that the law does not allow exemptions for the simple fact that a case is sub judice.
  • The CPIO has not shown that a court has banned the disclosure of the information, she said.
  • Meanwhile, Congress today held an online press conference in which it accused the Narendra Modi government of deceiving the court and the nation.
  • The government’s affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on January 11, alleging that proper consultation took place before the introduction of the three farm laws, is an attempt to “distort, distort, distort and mislead” Congress said, and party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi noted that the government’s affidavit differs from a response from RTI given by them.

Adultery cannot be decriminalized for the armed forces, the government. told SC

The Supreme Court on Wednesday admitted a petition filed by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to exempt armed forces personnel from the scope of a 2018 Constitutional Court ruling that decriminalized adultery .

  • A three-judge tribunal headed by Judge Rohinton Fali Nariman said the guilty plea should be reviewed by a constitutional court because the original verdict, repealing section 497 (adultery) of the Indian Penal Code, was handed down by a court of five people judges in September 2018.
  • The court referred the case back to the Chief Justice of India to order the formation of a panel of five judges to clarify the impact of the 2018 ruling on the armed forces.
  • The government said in the petition that army, navy and air force personnel are a “different class.” They were governed by special laws, the Army Law, the Navy Law and the Air Force Law.
  • Adultery amounted to misconduct and a violation of discipline under these three laws. These special laws impose restrictions on the basic rights of staff, who operate in a particular situation which demands the greatest discipline.
  • All three laws are protected by article 33 of the Constitution, which allows the government to change the basic rights of personnel in the armed forces.
  • The 2018 ruling created “instability” , as it allowed staff accused of having an adulterous or illicit relationship to be covered by the penalty.
  • The discipline necessary for the exercise of duty, crucial to national security, would be violated and the provisions of the laws should be allowed to continue to govern personnel as a “separate class”, regardless of the 2018 ruling, argued the petition.

Publication of a notice under the special law on optional marriage; Mandatory Notice Invades Privacy – Allahabad HC

In an important ruling on interfaith couples seeking marriage under the Special Marriage Act of 1954, the Allahabad High Court ruled that it would be optional and not mandatory for them to publish a notice of their intention to marry .

  • The provision regarding the mandatory publication of a notice, derived from a “simplistic reading” of the particular law, “would infringe the fundamental rights to freedom and privacy, including within its scope the freedom to choose marriage without interference from state actors and non-state, of those affected, ”the court said in a ruling handed down on January 12.
  • Given that the case concerns the protection of the fundamental rights of a large number of people, the judge ordered the chief secretary of the court to send a copy of the order to the secretary general of the UP.
  • The same must be communicated “to all state marriage officials and other competent authorities as soon as possible.” Judge Vivek Chaudhary ordered that while notifying under section 5 of the Special Marriage Act of 1954, it will be optional for the parties to the proposed marriage to request in writing to the marriage officer to publish or not publish a notice under section 6 and follow the objection procedure prescribed by law.
  • The obligation to post a notice under Article 6 and to invite or object under Article 7 can only be construed as a directory by nature, to give effect only at the request of the parties to the contemplated marriage and not otherwise, noted the court in sentence of 47 pages.

Government postpones polio vaccination program

The national polio vaccination program, in which children ages 0 to 5 receive polio drops, has been postponed “until further notice” by the government. Center by citing “unforeseen activities”. National Immunization Day (NID), commonly known as the Pulsed Polio Immunization Program, was scheduled for January 17 across India. The Union Ministry of Health communicated the decision to postpone the polio vaccination program to all states in a letter on January 9. Union Health and Family Minister Harsh Vardhan said on January 8 that the polio vaccination would take place on January 17. The country will launch its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 starting on January 16.

HAL will manufacture 83 aircraft for the IAF under the largest indigenous defense deal

In what is effectively the largest purchase contract for an indigenous defense product, the Cabinet Security Committee meeting on Wednesday approved the purchase of 83 MK-1A light combat aircraft (LCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The aircraft will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The native content of LCA-Tejas is 50% in the MK-1A variant and will be further improved to 60%, Singh said. The first LCA MK-1A is expected to be deployed in 2023-24, after which HAL plans to increase the production rate to 16 aircraft per year.

The United States House of Representatives opens the impeachment session of Donald Trump

The Democratic-controlled United States House of Representatives opened on Wednesday the debate on a second historic impeachment of President Donald Trump after the attack on the Capitol for his supporters that resulted in five deaths.

  • Lower house lawmakers are expected to vote for impeachment around 3 p.m. ET Wednesday (1:30 a.m. IST Thursday), which marks the formal opening of proceedings against Trump.
  • Trump will be impeached for the second time in the unprecedented vote in the House, a week after encouraging large numbers of loyalists to “fight like hell” against the election results just before taking over the United States Capitol during a deadly siege.
  • While Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2019 did not bring Republican votes to the House, a small but significant number of leaders and lawmakers are breaking with the party to join the Democrats, claiming that Trump violated his oath to protect and defend democracy.
  • At least five Republican lawmakers, including Wyoming Republican Leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, have announced that they will vote to impeach Trump, dividing the Republican leadership and the party itself.

Covid Watch: The number of reported coronavirus cases in India stood at 1,05,10,294 at the time of publication of this newsletter, with a balance of 1,51,768.

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