News analysis (Part 1) and explanation of the main news reports appearing in newspapers of 15 February 2017 (also freely subscribe to our YouTube Education channel with about 100 free videos on UPSC IAS and other competitive examinations):
Triple talaq case may go to Constitution Bench
- Indicating that a Constitution Bench may hear the question whether triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat), ‘niqah halala’, and polygamy violate the fundamental rights of Muslim women, the Supreme Court on 16 Feb said it had to examine if these personal law practices were the “fundamental traits” of the minority religion.
- The Centre asked the supreme court to determine whether personal laws can be brought under the ambit of Article 13 (laws inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights) of the Constitution.
- The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had submitted that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to strike down any provisions of personal law.
- But, organisations and Muslim women from various walks of life across the country urged the court to strike down triple talaq and polygamy as “un-Islamic.”
- A 3-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, is hearing a batch of petitions, including a suo motu PIL petition instituted by the Supreme Court itself on these issues.
Questions submitted by Govt on triple talaq:
- Whether the impugned practices of talaq-e-biddat, nikaah halala and polygamy are protected under Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India? Article 25(1) deals with freedom to practise religion.
- Whether Article 25(1) is subject to part III of the Constitution and in particular Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India? Articles 14 ensures right to equality while Article 21 guarantees right to life and liberty.
- Whether personal law is law under Article 13 of the Constitution? Article 13 lays down that all laws should conform to the fundamental rights.
- Whether the impugned practices of talaq-e-biddat, nikaah halala and polygamy are compatible with India’s obligations under International treaties and covenants to which India is a signatory?
Article 13 of the Constitution
- Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights.- (1) All laws in force in the territory of India immediately before the commencement of this Constitution, in so far as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this Part, shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void.
(2) The State shall not make any law which takes away or abridges the rights conferred by this Part and any law made in contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of the contravention, be void.
(3) In this article, unless the context otherwise requires,—
(a) “law” includes any Ordinance, order, bye-law, rule, regulation, notification, custom or usage having in the territory of India the force of law;
(b) “laws in force” includes laws passed or made by a Legislature or other competent authority in the territory of India before the commencement of this Constitution and not previously repealed, notwithstanding that any such law or any part thereof may not be then in operation either at all or in particular areas.
(4) Nothing in this article shall apply to any amendment of this Constitution made under article 368.
Other relevant provisions of Constitution
- Equality before law.- The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
- Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.- (1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
- Protection of life and personal liberty.- No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law
- Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.- (1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.
(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law—
(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;
(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.
Explanation I.—The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion.
Explanation II.—In sub-clause (b) of clause (2), the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.
100 dead in suicide attack on Sufi shrine in Pakistan
- Nearly 100 people were killed and several injured on 16 February night when an Islamic State (IS) suicide bomber blew himself up inside the crowded shrine of Sufi Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan town, some 200km north-east of Karachi in Pakistan.
- The bomber entered the shrine through its Golden gate and blew himself up near the site where the ritual of sufi dance ‘Dhamal’ was taking place. He first threw a grenade to cause panic and then blew himself up.
- Hundreds of devotees were present inside the shrine at the time of blast.
- The ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on their Aamaq news agency, saying a suicide bomber had targeted a “gathering of Shias” at the shrine in Sindh.
- Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the Pakistan army had been requested to provide night flying helicopters to shift the dead and injured. He also said that because the shrine is away from a major city there have been problems in providing rescue operations.
- The famous song ‘Dum a Dum Mast Qalandar’, among several other songs, has been inspired from this shrine (Indian Express).
- Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a Salafi jihadist unrecognised state and militant group that follows a fundamentalist, Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam.
- It is also known as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) or simply IS (Islamic State).
- ISIS gained global notoriety in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive, followed by its capture of Mosul and the Sinjar massacre.
- ISIS has been designated a terrorist organisation by the United Nations and many individual countries. It is widely known for its videos of beheadings of both soldiers and civilians, including journalists and aid workers, and its destruction of cultural heritage sites.
- It is the most dreaded terror organisation in the world today.
Palaniswami sworn in as TN CM; to seek vote of confidence on 18 February
- Edappadi K Palaniswami was sworn in as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister yesterday on 16 February by Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao.
- He will seek a vote of confidence in the state assembly at 11 am on Saturday, i.e., 18 February.
- He went to a resort at Koovathur where more than 100 party MLAs have been staying since February 8 after the then chief minister O. Panneerselvam revolted against party general secretary V K Sasikala.
- These MLAs are likely to continue to stay at the resort till Saturday before attending the assembly.
Set up mechanism to delete sex determination ads: SC
- The Supreme Court on 16 Feb ordered three Internet giants — Google, Microsoft and Yahoo — to immediately set up their own in-house expert bodies to keep tabs on and delete online pre-natal sex determination advertisements.
- The court said the intent of the order was to make these search engines “responsive to Indian law.”
- Section 22 of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act of 1994 prohibits advertisements relating to pre-natal determination of sex and imposes punishment.
- However, ads continue to appear online, rendering the law toothless.
- Now, the Supreme Court has made the search engines themselves liable for preventing illegal sex determination ads from appearing online.
- This step is in addition to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s move to set up a nodal agency to receive complaints on violation of Section 22 of the 1994 Act.
- The court said the search engines shall take steps to see that if any words or any keywords that can be shown on the Internet which has the potentiality to go counter to Section 22 of the 1994 Act, should be deleted forthwith.
Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994
- Prohibition of advertisement relating to pre-conception and pre-natal determination of sex and punishment for contravention.—(1) No person, organisation, Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic including clinic, laboratory or centre having ultrasound machine or imaging machine or scanner or any other technology capable of undertaking determination of sex of the foetus or sex selection shall issue, publish, distribute, communicate or cause to be issued, published, distributed or communicated any advertisement, in any form, including Internet, regarding facilities of pre-natal determination of sex or sex selection before conception available at such Centre, Laboratory, Clinic or at any other place.
(2) No person or organisation including Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic shall issue, publish, distribute, communicate or cause to be issued, published, distributed or communicated any advertisement in any manner regarding pre-natal determination or pre-conception selection of sex by any means whatsoever, scientific or otherwise.
(3) Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this section, “advertisement” includes any notice, circular, label, wrapper or any other document including advertisement through Internet or any other media in electronic or print form and also includes any visible representation made by means of any hoarding, wall-painting, signal, light, sound, smoke or gas.
India, China to discuss ‘friction points’ like Masood Azhar and NSG bid in first Strategic Dialogue
- India and China will hold their first Strategic Dialogue on February 22 in Beijing during which the two sides will discuss key issues of mutual concern and interest including “friction points” such as Masood Azhar and NSG.
- Indian Foreign secretary S. Jaishankar and executive vice-chairman of China Hang Yesui will co-chair the meet to discuss all issues of mutual interest in bilateral, regional and international domain.
- China has maintained a rigid stand on issues crucial to India such as membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and designation of JeM chief and Pathankot attack mastermind Masood Azhar as global terrorist by the UN.
- Not only China scuttled India’s membership bid at the meeting of NSG last year, it also opposed banning of Azhar by the UN, apparently at the behest of its all-weather friend Pakistan.
- On 15 February, the Chinese foreign ministry also said it has lodged a protest with India for hosting a Taiwanese parliamentary delegation and asked it to deal “prudently” with Taiwan-related matters.
- India however dismissed the protest saying no “political meanings” should be read into such trips from Taiwan.
Watch the YouTube video with full explanation:
This video discusses and explains the current affairs topics appearing in the newspapers and media (such as The Hindu, Indian Express, Economic Times, Press Information Bureau, etc.) of 15 February 2017. This is Part 1 video.
This video is useful for the aspirants of the UPSC Civil Services Examination (for IAS, IPS, IFS, and Group-A Central Services). This lecture is also useful for aspirants of other competitive examinations, such as SSC, Bank PO, LIC, RBI Assistant, RBI Grade B, State Public Service Commission examinations like RPSC, UPPSC, MPSC, MPPSC, HCS, RAS, CLAT, Hotel Management entrance, BBA and several other examinations.
This video has been prepared by Dr. Ashok Dhamija, a former IPS.
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