Experts begin documenting Kerala temple treasure

A Supreme Court appointed committee of experts Monday began documentation of the Rs.1 lakh crore worth of treasure uncovered in the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple here.

Director General of the National Museum, C.V. Ananda Bose, who heads the five-member panel, led his colleagues after 3 p.m into the place where the treasure has been stored in six vaults.The experts emerged just before 7 p.m.

With the apex court asking the team not to make public its findings, Bose did not reveal much to the media.

‘We went into the vaults and worked out a plan,’ he said.Asked what the plan was, he quipped: ‘The next plan is to implement the plan.’

An apex court bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik appointed two committees in July and directed them to see that the entire process be videographed.Bose’s committee will videograph and photograph the articles found in the temple. Another three-member panel headed by Justice M.N. Krishnan will oversee the work of this committee.The decision on whether to open Vault B is yet to be taken.

Stocktaking of the treasure started after the late T.P. Sunderarajan, a former Indian Police Service officer, approached the apex court, alleging mismanagement of temple affairs. Sunderarajan, 70, died July 17. The temple has six vaults, five of which have been opened on the orders of the Supreme Court.

Need for effective enforcement of child rights: Experts

There are several laws to protect the rights of children in India but what is required is effective enforcement of these rights, prominent members of judiciary said here Saturday.

“There are laws for children in India but the challenge is to enforce them. Child is the supreme asset of the nation,” Justice Rakesh Saxena of Madhya Pradesh High Court in Jabalpur told the symposium on “Child Rights and Law”.

 

Several district judges, civil society organisations and state government departments are participating in the two-day symposium organised by Human Rights Law Network in partnership with Unicef office for Madhya Pradesh and the state department for women and child development.

 

The aim is to sensitise judiciary and senior government officials and to explore ways and means for strict implementation of these laws, said a Unicef official.

 

Justice S.K. Gangele of Gwalior bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court emphasised the need for effective implementation of laws related to child rights at the ground level.

 

“There is a need to engage workers at the grassroots level in the implementation of these laws,” he added.

Tania Goldner, chief of Unicef field office for Madhya Pradesh, said: “There is an urgent need to bring in higher level of enforcement and strengthen implementation of laws and schemes to let children enjoy their rights.”

No nepotism, need experts in panel for Lokpal Bill: Hazare

Denying any differences among activist leaders, veteran social reformer Anna Hazare Sunday said that the process of drafting the Lokpal Bill needed experienced people and law experts on the panel.”People have been asking there are differences on the members of the committee, I want to say it was a small difference and it has been sorted out. I talked to Ramdev, he raised the issue that Kiran Bedi is not in the committee, Kiran Bedi had refused to be in the committee long back,” Hazare told reporters at the Press Club here in the evening.

He was reacting to the statement Yoga guru Baba Ramdev made Saturday, alleging “nepotism” in the 10 member government-civil society joint drafting committee, referring to the inclusion of the father-son duo of Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan in it and the exclusion of Kiran Bedi, one of the leading activists.

Ramdev Sunday retracted his comments and voiced support to the efforts.

Hazare said: “The committee is not permanent, it has been formed only for two months and we should not think that he or she is there or not there. We need experienced people because the law should be stringent, and law experts have been kept on it.”

“That was the whole reason I did not want to be on it but they said if I am in the committee it will put pressure on the government,” he told reporters in the morning.

The veteran Gandhian said that all the 10 members of the drafting committee should declare their assets.

“We will take up the matter before the committee. I agree that details of personal assets of all members of the committee should be in public domain,” he said.

The process of formulating the act will be videographed and the proceedings will be made public, he said.

Insisting that it was unfair to compare him with Mahatma Gandhi, the crusader said if he were to contest an election, he will lose his security deposit.

Hazare, who stressed he was not supporting any political party, had a word of praise for chief ministers Nitish Kumar of Bihar and Narendra Modi of Gujarat for the development achieved in their states.

Reacting to Ramdev’s criticism, Shanti Bhushan said: “Anna Hazare has said it’s the peoples’ victory and Baba Ramdev is included in it. What he feels about the drafting committee he can’t be there as law experts are needed not a yoga guru.”

Kiran Bedi, former top cop and Magsaysay award winner, said “this is the best team that can fight with the government and understand the technicalities of the law”.

Arvind Kejriwal, one of the members of the committee, said that both Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan were part of the first draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by them and that they “understand the nitty-gritty of the bill so they will naturally be part of it”.

Hazare ended his 97-hour hunger strike Saturday on a happy note after the government conceded to his demand for representation of the civil society in the drafting panel of the anti-graft bill.

A day after 73-year-old Anna’s nation-stirring fast ended and quiet returned to Jantar Mantar, the hub of the activities in the capital over the last five days, reactions kept pouring from across the country and abroad.

While most expressed hope and optimism, there were at least some who were sceptical if the anti-graft bill would succeed in tackling corruption.

“I admire Anna’s willpower but this was a mere blackmail which was successful only because of the media hype. There are similar agitations taking place around the country, some for the past few decades but no government has budged in those cases because of no media interest,” said Pariskhit Kirit, a share broker in the capital.

A sceptical Angad Rajvanshi, 32, said: “The politicians in our country are too cunning and selfish to give away their powers to citizens for free. We should wait and watch till the bill becomes a law with an eye on the amendments that would be made in the process.”

50 percent women married as minors: Experts

Nearly 50 percent of marriages in India involve minors – children under the age of 18 years, thanks to the poor implementation of the law, experts said Monday.

‘The consequence of child marriage is in conflict with the development aspirations of the country,’ Ranjana Kumari, president of the WomenPowerConnect (WPC), said at a national workshop on gender inequalities.

She was referring to the National Family Health Survey 3, which has reported that 45 percent women aged 20-24 years were already married before the age of 18 years.

‘It (child marriage) perpetuates health problems, marital violence, poverty and economic inequality, lack of education and awareness, lack of reproductive choice and access to measures of fertility management,’ she stressed.

‘It is important to know that the high economic growth that we are boasting about is not directly leading to better social development due to practices like child marriage, domestic violence and female foeticide still plaguing our country,’ added Kumari.

According to National Family Health Survey 3, the median age at first marriage for women between the age 25 -49 years was 16.8 years, while that for men in the same age group was 22.7 years.

The seminar highlighted ways to improve implementation of Prohibition of Child marriage Act (PCMA) 2006, domestic violence act and the need to ensure passage of women’s reservation bill.

Under the law, a child or minor is a person up to 18 years in the case of girls and 21 years in the case of boys.