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The demand for a Uniform Civil Code

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In the wake of a renewed demand for a Uniform Civil Code, Moumita Chaudhuri decodes the contentious code that would have a common personal law for all communities

The demand for a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) — wherein all personal laws in the country would be guided by one set of laws applicable to all communities — has been raised from time to time. Recently, Union minister for agriculture Radha Mohan Singh brought it back into the public discourse, throwing open the debate around a UCC once again. Of course, Singh’s comments immediately evoked a rush of protests and the charge that the BJP government at the Centre wanted to steamroll the legislation without taking the sensitivities of particular communities into account.

Despite the criticism, however, there are many who advocate the adoption of just such a code. A “civil code” refers to all the laws that deal with matters such as marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption and inheritance, and property rights in different communities.“These personal laws are merely the codification of each and every community’s cultural practices and customs and governs family-related issues,” says Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research, Delhi.


Mean and petty labour reforms

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Even decades after independence, the introduction of a ‘secret ballot’ for labourers to recognise trade unions remains elusive

The National Democratic Alliance government, on June 5 and June 17, notified the proposed amendments to the Factories Act, 1948 and the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. Given that the process of amendments began in 2008 and went through a number of expert committees, one would have expected the amendments to be carefully thought-out. On the contrary, they are petty, anti-labour and poorly conceived. Given also that these are the Narendra Modi-led government’s first pronouncements on labour, one can only lament the absence of a vision that a global power ought to have: that increased productivity comes from having satisfied workers, who produce quality products.

One would have thought that since these two statutes have hardly been implemented, the emphasis would have been on bringing in amendments to make them effective. The Thermal Power station case, decided by the Supreme Court recently, had on record data showing hundreds of workers dying prematurely and over 50 per cent of the workforce suffering from lung diseases, deafness and other occupational illnesses. The Commonwealth Games case decided by the Delhi High Court found workers living in conditions akin to bondage — without safety equipment, sleeping in sheds without mattresses and fans, and using toilets without doors and water. This is the reality of labour in India.


J&K people have lost faith in judiciary

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Srinagar, June 21

Former Chief Justice of Orissa High Court and chairperson of SHRC Bihar, Justice (Retd) Bilal Nazki Saturday accused J&K SHRC acting chairperson Rafiq Fida of being a worker of ruling National Conference.

J&K SHRC Acting chairperson was polling agent of Chief Minister and how he can deliver justice to the common masses,” Nazki said while addressing a day-long meeting on human rights and law with emphasis on J&K organised by Human Rights Law Network, here.

He said the vote was a powerful tool in the hands of people and it forced Chief Minister to order probe in 2010 killings. “It was possible only because people reacted in a proper channel by voting against the government”.

He, however, sarcastically criticised the Inquiry Commission saying, “We know what will be the report of the Commission". Asserting that problems will be solved if people believe in rule of law, Nazki said, “The current judicial system in the State has failed the people. Giving example of Jaleel Andrabi case, he said, “Had the judgment been respected, even family of the accused person could have been saved as he later killed himself and family in Canada”.Nazki said 99 percent of Indians see Kashmir as a “burden” and think that Kashmir is not their part.

Referring to Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani, he said nobody is explaining why the senior separatist leader is under house arrest from last over four years and why Masrat Alam was being continuously booked under PSAs. “Why no one is taking responsibility? Where is the law?”

In his introductory remarks, Senior Supreme Court Senior Advocate, Colin Gonsalves said J&K people have lost faith in judiciary.

He, however, said for victims, even if there is no hope, a small ray of hope or chance is worth taking. When you see no future, still take what you get. Giving examples of ‘hope’, he said nobody could have imagined the powerful judgments of acquittal of Rajiv Gandhi assassins, Bhular case or fake encounters of Manipur.


Relief for Kandhamal victims a priority, not churches: SC

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Observing that “most churches get funds from foreign governments”, the Supreme Court said its primary concern was to ensure financial relief to the families of people killed in the Kandhamal riots of 2008 in Odisha rather than help rebuild the churches destroyed in the religious violence.

The Supreme Court has been monitoring the relief and rehabilitation measures for victims since 2008 on the basis of a petition filed by the State’s Archbishop Raphael Cheenath.

The Court’s observation came after a submission by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, counsel for the victims, who argued that the Supreme Court should also direct the State government to provide funds to help rebuild the churches and religious structures that were “razed to the ground” during the violence.


Rules on Jail Visitors Board face stiff objection

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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Delhi government to submit copies of the Delhi Prisons Act, 1988, as well as the old and new rules framed by it regarding a Jail Visiters’ Board in the capital, after a number of PILs raised objections the rules governing the watchdog body.

Last year, the Delhi High Court directed the government to create a Jail Visitors Board — a watchdog body mandated under the Delhi Prisons Act, 1988, to keep an eye on condition of prisoners in jail — after a number of PILs were filed regarding problems in jails. In May 2014, the Delhi government notified the Jail Visitors Panel and rules governing the body. The panel of visitors, including a panel of officials and a separate panel of non-officials from NGOs and other organisations, was created in March this year, and rules regarding the panel were notified in May. However, during the hearing before the court of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S End law on Tuesday, objections were raised against the notified rules.

Advocate Colin Gonsalves of Human Rights Law Network and Advocate Anant Asthana said that the Panel has been constituted under rules which were created for the Delhi Prisons Act, 1988. However, the Act was modified in 2000, and the government created fresh rules in May this year

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HRLN is a division of the Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC). SLIC is a non-profit legal aid and educational organization, registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860, Indian Public Trust Act, 1950 and the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 1976.