November 19, 2017   
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Cleansing Politics

SPECIAL COURTS A REMEDY?

By Insaf 

It’s about time both the Centre and States act to decriminalise politics. Forget citizens, it’s even the Supreme Court which is getting exasperated. Its order of March 2014 to the Union government to conclude criminal trials against sitting MPs and MLAs, against whom charges had been framed, expeditiously ‘within a year’ has had no impact. Till Wednesday last, it was clueless about how many of the 1,581 cases on the list had been finally decided and how many ended in acquittal and convictions. Enough is enough was message and the Centre must report back by December 13 on the cases, for it noted that it takes years, probably decades, to complete the trial against a politician.  Worse, there is the absurd situation that by the time the case is decided the politician would have served as a minister or legislator several times over. At the same time, it asked the Centre to work out a scheme for setting up special courts across the country to establish a time-bound and exclusive judicial mechanism to expedite the trials involving the politicians. It must furnish details of the funding necessary to set up these courts and indicate that State governments be involved in the exercise. The aim, which remains to be elusive, is to cleanse politics of criminality and corruption. Will these courts be the ideal tool, time will tell.

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NE No To Aadhar

Meghalaya is firm about wanting to opt out of Aadhar, as it’s different from other States. With illegal immigration and influx being a known major concern, there are fears that the Aadhar may provide illegal immigrants a way to claim citizenship and upset the demographic balance of the tribal State. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has in fact given a boost to the Meghalaya People Committee on Aadhaar (MPCA), an umbrella organisation against Aadhaar enrolment, and said last week that he has yet to enrol himself. In addition to the thorny illegal migrants’ issue, this north eastern State is too concerned about the bigger issue that the exercise impinges the right to privacy. What comes as a pleasant surprise is that BJP-ruled State, Assam is on the same page as this one, Congress-ruled. “Our stand remains and we (his counterpart Sonowal) are moving together”, said Sangma. Will the centre heed and give the desired exemption, is worth a watch.

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Delhi Govt Sees Hope?

Delhi government is keeping fingers crossed. Will the Supreme Court eventually see Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s anguish and provide relief by clipping the Lt Governor’s wings? The government has knocked on the apex door to lay down the law on whether the LG can unilaterally administer the National Capital without being bound by the “aid and advice” of the AAP government. It has done so by challenging Delhi High Court judgement of April 2016 which declared the LG to have ‘complete control of all matters of the NCT of Delhi and that nothing with could happen without his concurrence.’ This, argued the petitioners suggests the LG has special powers ‘greater than the President and other Governors of States’! Has the point been well taken?  Well, in his oral observation Justice Chandrachud said:  ‘LG cannot stultify proposals/schemes forwarded by the Council of Ministers to him by simply sitting on these….He is bound to pass the difference of opinions to the President for early resolution.’ How should Kejriwal and team view this–“Is the glass half empty or half full”?

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TN Claim Falls Flat

Put to test again by the rain god, the Tamil Nadu government has failed miserably and is far from being ‘well prepared.’ The torrential downpour in Chennai has brought the capital city and suburbs to a standstill and eight people have died so far in rain-related incidents. While claims of working on a war-footing are being made, the residents are livid as the administration hasn’t learnt a lesson from the past. Memories of December 2015 floods flash back as water surges into their homes and people have to wade through knee-deep dirty water. Obviously precious little has been done to improve the storm water drain or canal network since. Life is thrown out of gear with schools and colleges shut since October 31 and private firms being requested to allow their staff to work from home. Chief Minister Palaniswami will do well to heed to the idiom ‘once bitten twice shy’.

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Punjab’s Scholarship Scam

Trust the system not to spare even scholarships meant for the Scheduled Castes and Other Backward classes, to make a quick buck. This time it’s in Punjab, after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered a special audit of all the educational institutions pertaining to ‘Post Matric Scholarship Scheme’ for SC/OBC from 2011 to 2017. While the intent may be to unearth corruption in the previous regime, it’s unfortunate that thousands of deserving candidates have been short changed, as the scandal multi-crore. Since June, the audit of 249 institutions has been conducted leading to the education department making a claim of Rs 53.76 crore to be returned. The modus operandi of the institutions was to show bogus students by way of giving names of dropout students, or claiming funds for unsigned applications of students etc. While the department has asked for FIRs to be filed against two institutions and suspended some employees so far, the scam may well turn out to be tip of the ice berg, as the Congress government proposes to look into other schemes. More revelations are on the cards.

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Positive Energy

Want ‘positive energy’ to work better in office and home then do as the Mayor of Jaipur, capital city of Rajasthan, says. Last week, Ashok Lahoty made it mandatory for all employees of Jaipur Municipal Corporation to sing the national anthem at 9.55 a.m. and national song at 5.55 p.m. Other than instilling ‘patriotism and love for country’ his reasoning: “At the institution where we work, we should begin our day with positive energy.

In any government office, there cannot be a bigger positive sense or positive energy than the national anthem.” And for the evening song: “A person returns home with work fatigue, (but) he should leave office temperament in office itself… They should go home with positive energy from singing the national song and give quality time to people at home.” While, no one at the work place had an objection to the order, some were peeved about the Mayor adding that anyone opposing this decision “should go to Pakistan”. The order shall soon apply to all zonal offices and fire stations. But given that it would do wonders, perhaps the Centre should take a cue and apply it in all offices! —INFA

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)