Kerala Govt On Sabrimala Case: Constitutional Invalidity Cannot Be Permitted To Go On

A five judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was set up to hear review petitions against the Sabrimala temple verdict on Wednesday morning. The petitions were opposing the entry of women of reproductive age in the temple. In the initial two hours of the hearing, the Court allowed 10 representative advocates on behalf of Nair Service Society, Ayyappa Seva Samithi and the Sabarimala thantri to present their stance. The Court then asked the Kerala government to present their side. 

Appearing for the Kerala government, advocate Jaideep Gupta made it clear that the government was opposing the review petitions as no grounds had been made out for review.

He started his argument by laying out three major points on the basis of which the Supreme Court had decided that the ban on women of all ages needs to be struck down. “The majority judgment had consensus on three points: 1. Ayyappas are not a religious denomination by themselves. 2. When a person’s right to worship is violated, Article 25 gets violated. 3. Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which authorises restriction on women “of menstruating age” is violative of the parent Act itself,” he said.

Jaideep Gupta asserted that essential practice of religion and essential practice of a temple cannot be confused and that exclusion of women from a temple was not essential to Hindu religion.

“Every temple may be having its own practice. Court cannot go into the essential practices of every temple. That would mean each temple is a denominational temple. That will lead to the destruction of essential religious practise test,” he argued.

The Kerala government’s counsel also opposed arguments put forward by various petitioners that it was a private issue. “It is about public law issue unless they argue that women between age 10 to 50 are not a class of Hindus,” Jaideep Gupta said.

The counsel also told the bench that it should not consider the tension and violence that followed the judgment. “That social peace has been destroyed is not a ground for reviewing the judgment. Constitutional invalidity cannot be permitted to go on,” Jaideep Gupta argued.

The proceedings of the day started with the Chief Justice asking the senior advocates to confine their arguments to the grounds in the review petitions. In the course of two hours, nine advocates, appearing for various petitioners, presented their arguments before the Supreme Court.

The first to present the case was senior advocate K Parasaran, who was appearing for the Nair Service Society. Speaking for more than 20 minutes, he submitted that the Constitution bench had failed to deal with the interplay of the Constitution’s Preamble and Articles 15, 17, and 25 of the Constitution.

Parasaran highlighted that Article 15 (prohibition of discrimination), which threw open all public institutions of secular character to all classes of person, conspicuously omitted religious institutions and therefore it was an error to strike down a temple custom under Article 15.

He also asserted that the Supreme Court’s September judgment did not consider the crucial aspect that Article 15 (2) does not cover religious places. The omission to consider this aspect constitutes an error apparent on record, the counsel submitted.

Parasaran concluded saying that the exclusionary practices in Sabarimala are based on the character of the deity, which is that of Naishtika Brahmachari or permanent celibate.

Appearing for the chief priest or thantri of the Sabarimala temple, senior advocate VV Giri reiterated that right to pray has been in consonance with the nature and form of the deity. He argued that the restriction in Sabarimala had been based on the character of the deity.

Advocate VV Giri argued that any person who asserts right under article 25(2)(b) to worship has to do it in consonance with the nature of deity.

On September 28, the Supreme Court in a 4:1 majority ruling lifted the ban on the entry of women between the ages 10 to 50 into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The SC bench, comprising the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra, observed that Article 25, the right to practice religion, is applicable to both men and women and struck down Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965.

Justice Indu Malhotra was the lone dissenting judge who ruled against lifting the ban and had observed that issues of deep religious sentiments should not be ordinarily be interfered by the Court.

January Box Office Makes It High: Uri 2019’s First Blockbuster, Manikarnika Shows Up Great

The year commenced on a much patriotic note at the domestic box office. Vicky Kaushal’s Uri became the first 100 crore movie of the year. Countings for the movie are still on and is likely to touch a 200 crore mark soon. The patriotic period was followed not lately by Kangana Ranaut’s Manikarnika portraying great history. 

Uri is successfully running in its fourth week and has already broken a few box office records set by the biggest Indian grosser Baahuli 2. Film trade analyst Taran Adarsh updated the box office figures of the film on Twitter, “#UriTheSurgicalStrike continues its glorious journey… Biz on [fourth] Mon is next to #Baahubali2 [₹ 2.90 cr]… ₹ 225 cr+ *lifetime biz* is not ruled out… [Week 4] Fri 3.44 cr, Sat 6.61 cr, Sun 8.86 cr, Mon 2.84 cr. Total: ₹ 192.84 cr. India biz. #Uri #HowsTheJosh.” Uri holds the record of highest Day 23 and Day 24 in India with collections of Rs 6.53 crore and Rs 8.71, respectively.

He also updated the box office figures of Kangana’s Manikarnika and tweeted, ““#Manikarnika is maintaining at lower levels… [Week 2] Fri 3.50 cr, Sat 5.25 cr, Sun 6.75 cr, Mon 2.25 cr, Tue 2.05 cr. Total: 80.95 cr. India biz. #Hindi #Tamil #Telugu.” Manikarnika had clashed with Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Thackeray, which made enough noise but slowed down after an impressive first week. As per the last update, the Bal Thackeray biopic had collected Rs 31 crore in its first week. “#Thackeray Fri 6 cr, Sat 10 cr, Sun 6.90 cr, Mon 2.90 cr, Tue 2.50 cr, Wed 1.70 cr, Thu 1.60 cr. Total: 31.60 cr. India biz. #Hindi #Marathi,” Taran shared on Twitter.

Chinese Smartphone Giant Xiaomi Launches Redmi Note 7

Chinese smartphone firm Xiaomi launched the latest smartphone Redmi Note 7 in China. It has come with a 48MP rear camera alongwith a Sony sensor. It owns a 4,000 MAh batery. Rumours say it is likely to be launched in India soon. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 India launch 

Xiaomi’s Global VP and India MD Manu Kumar Jain had recently teased Redmi Note 7’s India launch on company on Teitter. Though he did not reveal the smartphone’s India launch date, various news reports suggest that the smartphone may launch in India this month.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 likely price in India

Xiaomi is expected to price Redmi Note 7 aggressively in India. The smartphone is priced at CNY 999 (roughly Rs 10,500) in China for the 3GB variant. The smartphone, according to media reports, may be priced under Rs 10,000 in India. Manu Kumar Jain’s tweet saying, “We’re gonna turn this industry upside down. Amazing 48MP# is coming. RT if you know what this is,” too hints at aggressive pricing. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 specifications

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 offers a 6.3-inch full HD+ display with 1080×2340 pixel resolution and an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. The display features a dew drop notch and comes protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on top. 

The smartphone is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor and runs on Android 9.0 Pie operating system topped with company’s own MIUI 10. There are three different RAM variants of the smartphone — 3GB, 4GB and 6GB. It offers storage options of 32GB and 64GB which may be further expanded up to 256GB using microSD card. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 offers a 48MP primary rear camera paired with a Sony sensor. Secondary camera include a 5MP sensor. For selfies, the handset boasts of a 13MP camera at the front. 

The device houses a 4000 mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 support. Connectivity options include 4G, VoLTE, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and USB Type C.

Strong Q3 Performance Of Tech Mahindra, Looking Up For FY20

Tech Mahindra to show up a great perfprmance in third quarter of financial year 2019, marked by significant revenue growth, better improvement in operating margin a relatively slow order inflows. The management description was positive and the stock offers value in an uncertain market. 

Key positives Revenue in reported currency at $1,260.8 million exhibited year-on-year (YoY) and sequential growth of 4.3 and 3.5 percent, respectively.

The BPO business continued its strong performance, growing 22 percent YoY and 13 percent QoQ. The company has been steadily adding employees in this business, which stands testimony to its growth outlook.

  1. Digital continues to be at the heart of this growth journey, surging 10 percent sequentially and constituting 33 percent of revenue.

Reports Predict Losses Of Amazon & Flipkart Likely To Go Up Due To FDI Policy

Flipkart and Amazon India are predicted to go through higher losses due to the fall in sales and hike in compliance costs after the updated FDI policy for online market, according to reports from Morgan Stanley. While Amazon may suffer double the loss in three years, Walmart could go through a loss of $280 million from Flipkart. 

This comes just as Amazon was able to curb losses in its international unit, where India contributes significantly, from a little over $3 billion in 2017 to $2.1 billion in 2018. But a note by Morgan Stanley MD Brian Nowak, reviewed by TOI, said new regulations could lead Amazon to a wider long-term loss.

“We are paying attention to the long-term impacts of this law (new FDI clarifications) which, in our view, is likely to lead to increased Amazon India investment and larger losses from restructuring its business operations … We would also expect this to lead to higher long-term competition as this law should make it easier for other India-based companies to build and compete in e-commerce,” it added, predicting Amazon’s international business losses could swell to around $4 billion in the next three years.

Trump Proposes New Nuclear Missile Treaty, Likely To Include India

US President Donald Trump in his State of the Union address to a joint session in Congress has proposed a new nuclear missile treaty. This likely has the potential to include India. 

“Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t– in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far”, said Trump defending his decision of withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. 

The INF treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev banned land-based missiles of 1,000 to 5,000 kilometres.

Some of the Prithvi and Agni class missiles in India’s arsenal could fall under the ambit of such a treaty, as well as some of Pakistan’s missiles, like Babur, Shaheen and Ghauri missiles.

Donald Trump defended his decision to withdraw from the INF treaty saying, “Russia repeatedly violated its terms.”

His ceremonial speech which had been postponed last month in the middle of showdown over the funding in the budget for a border wall by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, had calls for unity across the political divide.

It did not have any direct references to India or region, except for US negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan “to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan.”

“My Administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban,” he said.

“As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism,” he said.

But he added, “We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement, but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.”

Another matter of relevance to India was on trade, when he asked for support for Reciprocal Trade Act.

“If another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the same product that they sell to us,” he said.

SC Issues Contempt Notice To Prashant Bhushan

Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a contempt notice to Advocate Prashant Bhushan on a petition filed by the Attorney General and Centre for his tweets that are alleged to be criticising the court on its appointment of M Naheswara Rao as the Interim CBI Director. 

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Naveen Sinha said it would deal with the larger question of whether it is open for lawyers or any other person to criticise the court in a sub judice matter which would lead to influencing public opinion. 

The notice was served after Centre objected to Bhushan making contemptuous remarks against the judiciary and the Supreme Court. 

In the plea, attorney general KK Venugopal said that Bhushan in his tweets said that AG Venugopal ‘wilfully and deliberately’ made false statement in a case pending in the court. 

The top court slammed Bhushan for passing comments on a sub-judice matter and subsequently served him a notice.

“We are not averse to media reporting on court proceedings but the lawyers involved in a case should resist from making a public statement in a sub-judice matter. It has now become common that lawyers appearing in case making a statement and participate in a debate in a sub-judice matter,” the court said. 

While issuing the notice, the court also observed that punishment to a lawyer should be the last thing to do. “Contempt is Brahmasthra and it should not be used frequently,” the court said.

SC Hearing On Sabrimala Issue: “Untouchability Has Nothing To Do With Custom”

On so far four months of the Supreme Court verdict in the Sabrimala temple issue on allowing women of reproductive age into the temple, the Court today began hearing review petitions challenging the verdict. A five- judge constitution bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will hear a total of over 60 petitions. 

The Sabrimala case was earlier scheduled for January 22, but had to be postponed as Justice Indu Malhotra, one of the judges on the panel, was on medical leave. Justice Malhotra, the only woman judge on the bench, had dissented with the verdict in September, saying courts must not interfere with issues concerning “deep religious sentiments”.

The verdict had set off massive street protests in Kerala. The annual pilgrimage season saw violent protests as devotees of Lord Ayyappa, the celibate god, tried to stop women and girls between the ages of 10 and 50 years from entering the shrine.

One of the two women who eventually managed to enter the temple in January was even attacked allegedly by her mother-in-law.

The issue has also triggered a political slugfest between Kerala’s CPM and the opposition parties, including the BJP and the Congress.

Communication Satellite GSAT- 31 Successfully Launched By India

GSAT- 31, a 2,536 kg Indian communication satellite was successfully launched by European launch services provider- Arianespace’s rocket from French Guiana early on Wednesday. The satellite is aimed at providing continuity to operational services on certain inorbit satellites. 

Blasting off from Ariane Launch Complex at Kourou, a French territory located in northeastern coast of South America at 2.31 am (IST), the Ariane-5 vehicle injected GSAT-31 into the orbit in a flawless flight lasting about 42 minutes.

“It gives me great pleasure on the successful launch of GSAT-31 spacecraft on board Ariane-5,” Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) Director S. Pandian said at Kourou soon after the launch.

“Congratulation to Arianespace on the successful launch and precise injection of satellite into the orbit,” he added.

The GSAT-31 is a “high power” communication satellite with Ku-band, and it is going to serve and replace some of the satellites that are going to expire soon, he said further.

The Ariane-5 vehicle (Flight VA247) also carried Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4 along with GSAT-31.

GSAT-31 separated from the Ariane-5 in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 250 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 35,850 km, inclined at an angle of 3.0 degree to the equator, ISRO said in a release after the launch.

After separation from Ariane-5, the two solar arrays of GSAT-31 were automatically deployed in quick succession and ISRO’s Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka took over the command and control of GSAT-31 and found its health parameters normal, it said.

In the days ahead, scientists will undertake phase-wise orbit-raising manoeuvres to place the satellite in Geostationary Orbit (36,000 km above the equator) using its on-board propulsion system.

During the final stages of its orbit raising operations, the antenna reflector of GSAT-31 will be deployed, and following this, the satellite will be put in its final orbital configuration, the space agency said, adding that the satellite will be operational after the successful completion of all in-orbit tests.

Weighing about 2,536 kg, the Indian satellite, GSAT-31, will provide continuity to operational services on some of the in-orbit satellites.

India’s 40th communication satellite

The satellite derives its heritage from ISROs earlier INSAT/GSAT satellite series, the space agency said, adding that it will provide communication services to Indian mainland and islands.

GSAT-31 is the country’s 40th communication satellite which is configured on ISRO’s enhanced ‘I-2K Bus’, utilising the maximum “bus capabilities” of this type.

This satellite will augment the Ku-band transponder capacity in Geostationary Orbit, ISRO said.

With a mission life of around 15 years, GSAT-31 will be used for supporting VSAT networks, Television uplinks, Digital Satellite News Gathering, DTH-television services, cellular backhaul connectivity and many such applications.

It will also provide wide beam coverage to facilitate communication over large oceanic region, comprising large parts of Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean, using a wide band transponder.

According to ISRO, two Ku-band beacon down link signals are transmitted by the satellite for ground tracking purpose.

“GSAT-31 has a unique configuration of providing flexible frequency segments and flexible coverage,” ISRO chairman K. Sivan said.

“GSAT-31 will provide DTH Television Services, connectivity to VSATs for ATM, Stock-exchange, Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) and e-governance applications. The satellite will also be used for bulk data transfer for a host of emerging telecommunication applications,” he said in a release.

Riding in Ariane-5’s upper position, HS-4/SGS-1 was released first in the flight sequence, with its separation occurring about 27 minutes after liftoff.

Comprising two payloads, Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4, also called HS- 4/SGS-1, is a geostationary condosat for KACST (King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology Saudi Arabia) and Hellas Sat (Greece Cyprus).

HS- 4/SGS-1 will provide telecommunication capabilities, including television, Internet, telephone and secure communications in the Middle East, South Africa and Europe, Arianespace said on its website.

GSAT-30 is another geostationary satellite to be lofted soon by Arianespace for ISRO.

“Soon we will be getting back to French Guiana some time in June, July to launch GSAT-30,” Mr. Pandian said. .