Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad: Article 370 had become shield for terrorists

On Saturday, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, had become a platform to “shield” terrorists and their patrons.

“The Government’s decision on Article 370 was taken in the interest of the nation as well as the common people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Prasad told reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration of the 17th all India meet of state legal services authorities in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

“We should understand that it was a temporary provision and removed in the interest of the country,” Prasad said. “We always strive for protection of the country and for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We want Jammu and Kashmir to progress.” The Centre had on August 5 announced abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and decided to bifurcate the state into Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — hours after Kashmir was placed under a total clampdown.

“Article 370 had become a platform to shield terrorists and their patrons, but we finished this. It is for the development of Kashmir,” Prasad said.

“The Prevention of Corruption Act, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act and law to stop manual scavenging were not applicable there. Which Kashmir was this?” the Minister asked.

Prasad said the administration in the state would take a call on further measures after taking into account the situation.

On a query over Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s statement that India is preparing for a Balakot-like strike in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Prasad said, “We don’t have to take notice of what they are saying.”

“But a strong reply will be given if any action is taken by Pakistan. Under the leadership of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi, India is alert about its protection and appropriate reply will given to any terror activities,” he added.

Prasad seeks India’s adequate representation in international arbitration

Prasad seeks India's adequate representation in international arbitration
Prasad seeks India’s adequate representation in international arbitration

As India seeks to develop into a hub of international arbitration, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today lamented that only a “small fragment” of members from the Indian judiciary are part of the international dispute resolution mechanism.

Terming it as a “sorry state of affairs”, he wondered why very less number of arbitrators are from non-Western countries.

“I am proud of my judiciary. It has given some of the best judges. But why do they not get adequate representation in international arbitration?,” he said addressing a conference on International Arbitration in BRICS here.

He also questioned the presumption that resolutions should come from arbitrators who are either trained in Western system or who are from the developed world. “It is an important issue and we’ll have to articulate (on this),” he said.

The Law minister said according to one estimate, 69.8 per cent of the arbitrators are from the developed or first world countries.

Prasad, also lamented a lack of appellate mechanism in dispute resolution system and said there is a need to consider “some kind of very limited appellate mechanism” so that there is way to challenge the arbitration award by parties involved in arbitration.

Referring to the quantum of penalties imposed in arbitration awards, he said when as the Law Minister, he goes through such orders, the first thing he looks for is the penalty.

“My eyes get wide open…I have rarely seen such penalities… should ten investments and the dispute arising therefrom should lead to a dispute redressal with penal consequences that is designed to unsettle the economy of the country (where investments have been made),” he questioned.

International arbitration must also appreciate the social constraints of investment in a country, he said asking why only “a few world centres” should always remain the “hubs” of international arbitration.

Successive governments have been trying to make India into a hub of international arbitration on the lines of London and Singapore.

The 1996 Arbitration law has recently been amended keeping in mind the Narendra Modi’s government’s push for “ease of doing business”.

( Source – PTI )

SC to hear petitions against scrapping of collegium system

Four PILs have been filed in the Supreme Court for declaring the NJAC move as unconstitutional

The Supreme Court will hear on Monday a batch of petitions challenging the 121st constitutional amendment by which collegium system for appointment of judges in higher judiciary was scrapped and a new mechanism under National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) was proposed to be put in place.

When advocates appearing for petitioners, challenging the NJAC measure, pleaded that urgent hearing should be given to them, a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha said that the matter is coming for hearing on Monday.

Four PILs have been filed in the Supreme Court for declaring the NJAC move as unconstitutional, days after Parliament passed two bills to scrap the collegium system for appointments in higher judiciary and to provide a new mechanism in its place. The PILs have been filed by former Additional Solicitor General Bishwajit Bhattacharya, advocates R K Kapoor and Manohar Lal Sharma and Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association.

The lawyers submitted that the 121st Constitutional Amendment Bill and the NJAC Bill, 2014, passed by Parliament were unconstitutional as they violate the basic structure of the Constitution.

“The Constitution itself recognises a clear demarcation separating the judiciary from the executive under Article 50 of the Constitution which is the underlying strength for a sound judicial system.

“It would be relevant to point out here that Article 50 of the Directive Principles of the State Policy under the Constitution is not only applicable to the lower judiciary but is also applicable to the higher judiciary as the doctrine of separation of power and the independence of the judiciary were basic immutable features of the Constitution,” Mr. Kapoor submitted.


Govt to seeks jurists’ views on bill to scrap collegium system

fffffDisplaying earnest, government will seek the views of jurists and former judges on the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission bill it plans to bring in Parliament to replace the present collegium system where judges appoint judges. Sources said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will listen to top jurists and former judges on Monday to elicit their views on the bill.

The government has already written to leaders of major political parties seeking their support for the bill. The leaders have also been asked to give their views on the issue. The move comes in the wake of claims that the previous UPA regime had nudged the Supreme Court collegium to recommend an extension for a Madras High Court judge who was under corruption cloud. The decision to fast track the bill also comes in the backdrop of a controversy generated by the Centre’s decision to return the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium for appointment of senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium as an apex court judge. The Law Minister had on July 21 said the government is seeking the views of various political parties and eminent jurists for setting up a Judicial Appointments Commission which would scrap the present system of judges appointing judges.

The sources said the NDA government is not averse to the previous UPA government’s plan to put the composition and functions of the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission Bill in Constitution.
By giving the composition and functions of the proposed commission Constitutional status, UPA had sought to ally fears of the judiciary that the composition and functions can be tweaked by any future government.

BJP, then in Opposition, had also raised the issue of constitutional status for the proposed body. While a constitutional amendment bill requires two-third majority for passage in a House, a normal legislation needs just a simple majority. But the NDA government is learnt to be planning to rejig the composition of the proposed panel, the sources said. They said the NDA government has found “certain infirmities” in the UPA version.

The UPA bill had proposed that the Commission be headed by the Chief Justice of India with two senior judges of the Supreme Court, two eminent persons and the Law Minister as its members.
The Secretary (Justice) in the Law Ministry was to be the convener. UPA had proposed that the two eminent persons on the Commission be selected by a panel consisting of the Prime Minister, the CJI and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. A Constitutional Amendment Bill to set up the proposed commission has lapsed following the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha and an accompanying bill is pending in Rajya Sabha.

An earlier effort by the NDA-I government in 2003 to replace the collegium system met with no success. The then NDA government had introduced a Constitution amendment bill but Lok Sabha was dissolved when the bill was before a Standing Committee. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was the Law Minister then. After any Constitutional amendment bill gets Parliamentary nod, it is sent to all the states and 50 per cent of the state legislatures have to ratify it. The process could take up to eight months. After ratification, the government sends it to the President for his approval. The practice of judges appointing judges started after 1993, replacing the system of government picking judges for higher judiciary comprising the Supreme Court and high courts. The move to set aside the 1993 Supreme Court judgement, which led to the collegium system, requires a Constitutional amendment.

(Source: PTI

Bring PM under Lokpal, says Ravi Shankar Prasad

ggThe Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday demanded the prime minister should be brought under the Lokpal bill while supporting the anti-graft legislation.

“The prime minister should come under it,” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said while speaking during a debate on the Lokpal bill in the Rajya Sabha.

“Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had offered to be under the Lokpal bill,” he said while supporting the bill.

“This would send a strong message,” he said.

He thanked social activist Anna Hazare for pushing the government on the need to bring in such a bill.

Stating that there had been a delay, he said the government could have passed the bill in 2011 itself.

“We supported the Lokpal bill. Why could you not pass it in 2011 itself?” asked Prasad.

Noting that the select committee of the Rajya Sabha unanimously agreed on the recommendations, he said the same should have happened in the report of the 2G Joint Parliamentary Committee also.

Noting the youth wanted change, Prasad said the country was shamed by the various corruption scandals that surfaced in the past few years.

“The youth wants change but the country was shamed by the scams,” he said.

Targeting the government for providing reservation for minorities on the Lokpal panel, Prasad said: “those occupying the anti-graft office should remember the enormity of the power and the responsibility of the post”.

He sought clarification from Law Minister Kapil Sibal on the trial period, and “whether an MP (member of parliament) was a public servant”.

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal said that being a people’s party, they would carry out a referendum among the people of the city, and decide what to do next.

(Source: IANS)

Parties concerned over SC’s criminal candidates order

Political arties united Thursday against a Supreme Court order on criminals in politics and wanted the government to address the issue during the monsoon session of parliament.
Leaders belonging to the Left parties, theBharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal(RJD) expressed concern over the implications of the court order that disqualifies a legislator if convicted in a criminal case and bars him from contesting the polls if under arrest.

They said the government should address the issue as misuse of the law could be rampant just before any election.

“We want a discussion on the apex court order,” CPI-M leader Basudeb Acharia said after an all-party meeting called by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath.

The BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad, JD-U president Sharad Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Prasad also expressed their concern.

They also expressed concern over another Supreme Court order that bars reservations in super-speciality courses in medical colleges.

“The reservation issue has been settled. Why do the courts have to pass an order on it time and again. They give such orders, so the session may be disrupted,” said Sharad Yadav.

“Leaders expressed serious concerns on the SC orders and erosion of supremacy of parliament,” said Kamal Nath.

Besides, other issues raised by opposition leaders were debates on food security ordinance, land acquisition bill, judicial commission, condition of economy, rampant corruption in the mid-day meal scheme and floods in Uttarakhand.

Agreeing that judicial commission on appointment of judges was required, Ravi Shankar Prasad said his party would also like to raise the ongoing tussle between the CBI and the IB in the Ishrat Jahan shootout case.

“Consensus on the food ordinance will be evolved after the debate,” said Sharad Yadav.

“We will support the food ordinance,” said Lalu Prasad.

The all-party meet, attended by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Home Minister Sushil kumar Shinde, was called to discuss smooth functioning of the monsoon session of parliament from August 5.

“We had a constructive meeting. The parties agreed on smooth running of parliament,” said Kamal Nath.

(Source: IANS)

Sushil Kumar Shinde as a new Home Minister

Sushil Kumar Shinde will be India’s new Home Minister. On Wednesday he took charge of the Home Ministry.

 Shinde, being the new Home Minister, said that the Home Ministry is a big responsibility. “This is the second time that a dalit is being given the Home Ministry. I will work for the country. I understand that it is crucial to work closely with the states,” he told.

 “Home is a critical ministry. We have to deal with a situation taking cognisance of the ground situation,” he said.

 On Anna’s fast Shinde said, “Anna’s andolan is against corruption. We are with him on the issue but it has to be within a framework.”

 While the Opposition called it a “reward for his loyalty to the Gandhi family”.

 BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said that instead of being hauled up for the what was the country’s worst power failure, the minister who was in charge of the department was being rewarded with promotion.Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is said to have written a letter to Shinde last year saying that he was not doing enough to improve the country’s power situation.

Khurshid: Govt not to censor internet

The Law Minister Mr. Salman Khurshid today denied any kind of censorship on internet and said adequate provisions are already in place and IT Ministry is also holding consultations with various stakeholders to address concerns on objectionable content.

Addressing a seminar of ‘Editors Guild of India’ here, Mr Khurshid said his colleague and IT Minister Mr Kapil Sibal does not endorse the view of internet censorship in the country and stakeholders have shown willingness to discuss all issues, including how any “viral material” can be removed.

“I can share with you that Kabil Sibal has not endorsed internet censorship. He is already in consultation with the stakeholders. The consultation is going very well, but suddenly people reported that he was trying to put in censorship,” he said.

Explaining the need to monitor and control objectionable material on the internet, Mr Khurshid said the stakeholders have shown willingness to discuss all issues related to this.

“There is no problem with the internet. Stakeholders have been very willing to work with us and find how any viral material can be removed. I think it is not an insurmountable problem,” the Minister said.

On the issue of regulating social media websites, he said adequate provisions are available in this regard.

“There is already adequate provision available in the law as far as social media is concerned,” he said.

On TRP issue

The BJP leader and former Information and Broadcasting Minister Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad while addressing the gathering highlighted the need for regulating the agencies monitoring the TRP ratings of news channels.

Alleging that TRP management is done in the “most fraudulent” manner, Mr Prasad said “TRP must be accountable and it must run in a fair, reasonable and accountable manner duly backed by the law.”

Sushma meets arrested BJP colleagues in Tihar

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj Tuesday met two BJP colleagues who are lodged in Tihar jail in connection with the cash-for-vote scandal.

Swaraj, who is Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, along with party general secretary Ravi Shankar Prasad met two former BJP MPs Faggan Singh Kulaste, Mahavir Bhagora as well as Sudheendra Kulkarni, media advisor to Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he was the prime minister.

Talking to reporters later, Sushma said they met the BJP party leaders to wish them on the occasion of Diwali and show their support for them by calling them ‘innocent’.

Tomorrow is Deepawali, which is the biggest festival. Three of our innocent friends are celebrating this festival in jail… They did no crime except revealing other people’s crime, Sushma said after meeting them.

Those who committed the crime are in government and those who revealed the crime are in jail, she said.

Sushma said the BJP will continue its ‘struggle’ unless the real culprits are punished.

One thing that is satisfactory is that their own spirit is very high. They say ‘don’t worry about us but what we did, we are proud of it’. Unless the real culprits are punished and the innocent are released, our struggle will continue, Sushma added.

BJP has been upset as former Samajwadi Party MP Amar Singh, who was accused in the same case, got bail Monday while the BJP members remain in jail.

Prasad said that people were angry over the jailing of the BJP men.

Those who gave the bribe have been granted bail. Those for whose benefit the bribe was given, their role is not being investigated. And those who exposed the most shameful, sordid episode in the history of India, unfortunately spend their Diwali in jail, Prasad said.

The nation is watching all this. With deep sense of disgust and dismay. People of this country are very, very angry against twin menace of corruption and black money, he said.

On July 22, 2008, the three BJP MPs waved wads of currency notes in the Lok Sabha ahead of a trust vote, alleging they were given the money to vote in favour of the Manmohan Singh government. Another BJP MP, Ashok Argal, has not been arrested yet.