Afghanistan/Pakistan: Family of US independent writer Paul Overby asking for information

first_img In rural India, journalists face choice between covering pandemic and survival Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of Paul Overby, an American independent writer who was last heard from in the Khost province of Afghanistan in May 2014. Paul Overby is a published independent writer and a researcher of Afghanistan and Pakistan affairs. He is the author of Holy Blood: An Inside View of the Afghan War (1993). He turned 74 years old in November, 2016. AfghanistanPakistanAsia – Pacific Protecting journalists Armed conflictsDisappearances News June 7, 2021 Find out more June 10, 2021 Find out more Overby disappeared on his way to North Waziristan, Pakistan, to meet and interview Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani network, for a new book on the Taliban and the war in Afghanistan.Overby’s family has not heard from him since May 2014 and is asking anyone who has information about his whereabouts to share with them. RSF_en Mongolia : RSF urges presidential candidates to voice support for press freedom Follow the news on Asia – Pacific Receive email alerts News Help by sharing this information January 25, 2017 Afghanistan/Pakistan: Family of US independent writer Paul Overby asking for information AfghanistanPakistanAsia – Pacific Protecting journalists Armed conflictsDisappearances June 2, 2021 Find out more Organisation News News Pakistani TV anchor censored after denouncing violence against journalists to go furtherlast_img read more

Supervisor Barger Joins County Fire Department to Welcome Arrival of Super Scoopers

first_img 20 recommended0 commentsShareShareTweetSharePin it More Cool Stuff EVENTS & ENTERTAINMENT | FOOD & DRINK | THE ARTS | REAL ESTATE | HOME & GARDEN | WELLNESS | SOCIAL SCENE | GETAWAYS | PARENTS & KIDS Name (required)  Mail (required) (not be published)  Website  Subscribe Community News Community News Supervisor Barger Joins County Fire Department to Welcome Arrival of Super Scoopers Los Angeles County to lease two Bombardier CL-415s from Canada to aid during fire season Published on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 | 4:31 pm First Heatwave Expected Next Week Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Get our daily Pasadena newspaper in your email box. Free.Get all the latest Pasadena news, more than 10 fresh stories daily, 7 days a week at 7 a.m. Pasadena’s ‘626 Day’ Aims to Celebrate City, Boost Local Economy center_img Make a comment Top of the News Community News Pasadena Will Allow Vaccinated People to Go Without Masks in Most Settings Starting on Tuesday Today, Supervisor Kathryn Barger joined Los Angeles County Fire Chief Darryl Osby, along with pilots, air crew members, and fire personnel to welcome two CL-415 Super Scooper fire-fighting aircraft that the County is leasing from the Government of Quebec.“The Board of Supervisors is proud to support our Fire Department and help provide critical resources such as the Super Scoopers, to supplement our own aerial firefighting fleet during fire season,” said Supervisor Barger. “For years, LA County has partnered with Quebec to provide these Bombardiers which are instrumental in our battle against large-scale wildfires. This is a great collaboration of shared resources between our two regions. I am grateful for the leadership of the LA County Fire Department and to the brave men and women who work valiantly each day to save lives and property,” she continued.With increasingly dangerous fires and record-breaking heat in Southern California, fire safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. The Los Angeles County Fire Department leads the nation in its ability to manage wildfires and it is necessary to support these efforts with top-of-the-line resources in firefighting aircraft. Los Angeles County has welcomed the Super Scoopers for 27 consecutive years.With a capacity of up to 1,600 gallons of water, Super Scoopers exceed the capabilities of other aerial fire craft. Flying at high speeds just above the surface of a large body of water, the Super Scoopers are able to fill their tanks within 12 seconds. A full Super Scooper can last for fire operations of up to four hours. Home of the Week: Unique Pasadena Home Located on Madeline Drive, Pasadena HerbeautyThese Are 15 Great Style Tips From Asian WomenHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyA 74 Year Old Fitness Enthusiast Defies All Concept Of AgeHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyThe Most Heartwarming Moments Between Father And DaughterHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyStop Eating Read Meat (Before It’s Too Late)HerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyFinding The Right Type Of Workout For You According AstrologyHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyPriyanka Chopra’s 10 Year Challenge Pic Will Surprise YouHerbeautyHerbeauty faithfernandez More » ShareTweetShare on Google+Pin on PinterestSend with WhatsApp,Donald CommunityPCC- COMMUNITYVirtual Schools PasadenaHomes Solve Community/Gov/Pub SafetyPasadena Public WorksPASADENA EVENTS & ACTIVITIES CALENDARClick here for Movie Showtimes Business Newslast_img read more

Every Institution, Mechanism Or Tool That Is Designed To Hold The Executive Accountable Is Being Systematically Destroyed: Justice AP Shah [Read Full Text of Speech]

first_imgTop StoriesEvery Institution, Mechanism Or Tool That Is Designed To Hold The Executive Accountable Is Being Systematically Destroyed: Justice AP Shah [Read Full Text of Speech] LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK18 Sep 2020 8:55 AMShare This – x”In India today, every institution, mechanism or tool that is designed to hold the executive accountable, is being systematically destroyed”, said Justice(Retired) A P Shah, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and former Chairperson of the Law Commission of India.He was delivering a virtual lecture at the Justice Hosbet Suresh Memorial on the Topic – “The Supreme Court in…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?Login”In India today, every institution, mechanism or tool that is designed to hold the executive accountable, is being systematically destroyed”, said Justice(Retired) A P Shah, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and former Chairperson of the Law Commission of India.He was delivering a virtual lecture at the Justice Hosbet Suresh Memorial on the Topic – “The Supreme Court in Decline: Forgotten Freedoms & Eroded Right”.Taking a critical look at the manner in which Supreme Court had been handling politically sensitive and constitutionally important matters over the past six years, Justice Shah said :”The Supreme Court’s descent was not fortuitous or coincidental, but was part of a larger, deliberately-crafted strategy on the part of the executive to seize control of the arms of the state, in ways that would benefit its own political agenda”.He also opined that the Court has failed to perform as a counter-majoritarian Court.”I emphasize counter-majoritarianism because it is important to recognize the role of the Court in protecting the interests of minorities. A democracy derives its legitimacy from representing the will of the majority. But this legitimacy comes at a cost, which is invariably borne by minority groups, and especially those that are unpopular or victims of deep prejudice and who cannot influence the legislature in any way. This power to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority is the basis of judicial review powers that allow Courts to strike down laws for violating the Constitution”, he said.He further said :”That the judiciary is failing spectacularly to remain an independent institution is evident. That the executive is in fact responsible for this is also an open secret. How the executive is doing this is also well known. There is no need to expend energy in packing the Supreme Court with pro-government judges. Finding over 30 judges who think alike would anyway be difficult, if not impossible. The combination of opaque systems like the “master of the roster”, and a certain kind of Chief Justice of India, and a handful of “reliable” judges, is  sufficient to destroy all that is considered precious by an independent judiciary. Of course, this is far from being a hypothetical scenario, and is, in fact, playing out in India right now. The truly independent and competent judges in the Court have been relegated to adjudicating private disputes, and are considered inconsequential. Many commentators have  already pointed out how the last three CJIs all used the powers anointed upon themselves via the “master of the roster” to entrust politically sensitive and important matters to benches involving the recently-retired Justice Arun Mishra”.The Full Text of the speech may be read below :Introduction1. Good evening to all of you present here today. I would like to extend my thanks to Mr. Irfan Engineer for having organised this event, and invited me to be a part of it, and am delighted to be sharing the same space with Mr Dushyant Dave.2. When Mr Engineer informed me that Justice Suresh was going to be posthumously awarded the Dr Asghar Ali Engineer Lifetime Achievement Award, it struck me that there could be no better person for this recognition.3. I was fortunate to have met Dr Engineer once, and of course, known and appeared before Justice Suresh several times. Both men were similar in many ways. Both were activists in their own right. Dr Engineer was a reformist, and fought for change in the Dawoodi Bohra community, and his valuable contributions to studies in peace, non-violence and communal harmony are well-regarded. Equally, Justice Suresh was known, especially in his three decades of public life after retirement, for his path-breaking contributions to the human rights space. Wherever there were instances or occasions of human rights violations, Justice  Suresh’s wisdom, presence and support always made an appearance.4. The commitment of Dr Engineer and Justice Suresh to their causes and what they identified as their life missions was unshakeable. Even in the face of physical and verbal attacks, which both men had to face to varying degrees, they continued to stand up tall, perhaps aware that their display of such courage under fire was necessary to set an example for ordinary people like us to keep fighting for just causes. Justice Suresh said that ‘his voice was his conscience’, which was also the title of a book he wrote. This applies to Dr Engineer in equal spirit. I would say that both their voices were the conscience of the nation, and we should be ever grateful to them for showing us all the path.5. It is in this same spirit that I speak here today of what I believe is one of the most troubling developments of our time: the decline of the Indian Supreme Court. As a former judge, at the very least I believe it is my duty to ring some warning bells.6. The political thinker, Edmund Burke, said that judges are trained so that they can detect misgovernment, and especially, “sniff the approach of tyranny in every political breeze”. This is the kind of Court we need, but unfortunately this is not the Court we have right now.7. The Supreme Court has had a glorious past that it should be proud of. The statesmanship that the 13-judge constitutional bench exhibited in the decision in Kesavananda Bharati, where the basic structure doctrine was laid down, and judicial custody of the Constitution reclaimed, is but one shining example of what the Court is capable of. Indeed, Granville Austin said that the Court had established itself as “the logical, primary custodian” of the Constitution, and “its interpreter and guardian.”8. The Supreme Court started out as a passive court. Slowly but surely, as the institution understood its role in the governance of the nation, it expanded its authority, thus laying the foundation for an activist role in future. Kesavananda Bharati was the start of all this. Over the years, there were many judgements that cemented the Supreme Court’s identity further. Notable amongst these were Maneka Gandhi, Frances Coralie Mullin, and International Airports Authority, where, variously, due process was introduced, and there was an expansion of the rights enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution.9. The “invention” of the public interest litigation marked the beginning of what has been termed the “socialist judicial” era, where the Court’s activist role came into prominence. In the late 1990s, it expanded its scope into relatively less-explored territories, such as environmental protection, using its powers to tackle important questions in that arena. In doing so, it also entered the domain of the executive, and was roundly criticised for this. This criticism is not unwarranted, and indeed, even though it has its advantages and there is a tendency to praise the instrument, the PIL has been abused on some occasions. But this is not the place to talk about this.10.It is not as though the Supreme Court did not have its ups and downs. Most notoriously, in the ADM Jabalpur case, there was a moment of realisation that the Court had gone astray, and the years that followed were doggedly spent in restoring some respectability to the institution. The 1980s and 1990s reversed its reputation, and for a brief period, it seemed as though the Supreme Court had returned to being the sentinel on the qui vive, which the first generation of judges had hoped it would remain. Now, however, we seem to have regressed once again, and desperately need a wake up call in order to avoid another Emergency-like disaster.An overpowering executive11.You may well ask why this is all relevant. On paper, we have a liberal, democratic, secular republic with all its wheels in place. We have fundamental rights tightly ensconced behind seemingly impenetrable firewalls. With a parliamentary system of government, separation of powers, and a federated division of responsibilities between the centre and states, we have a system that is the envy of many. On paper, the all-powerful executive is held accountable to the people through the legislature; and to the Constitution and the rule of law, through the judiciary; and through other institutions like the auditor-general, the election commission, a human rights watchdog, and anti- corruption bodies, besides entities like the press, academia, and civil society. Unfortunately, remember what I said – this is all only on paper. 12. In India today, every institution, mechanism or tool that is designed to hold the executive accountable, is being systematically destroyed. This destruction began in 2014 when the BJP government came into power. There is a temptation to compare this with the blatant destruction that the Indira Gandhi government indulged in the past, but comparisons are odious. What we are witnessing today is a force in action strategically intending to render the Indian democratic state practically comatose, with all the power entrusted with the executive. 13.Besides the various limitations of Parliament that have been revealed in recent times, it has not even met during the Covid-19-induced lockdown, and even when it finally decided to meet, question hour has been scrapped. Even if Parliament has been debilitated, other entities should have stepped up to the plate and kept the executive in check. We have heard nothing of the Lokpal since forever. The National Human Rights Commission is dormant. Investigation agencies are misused at the slightest opportunity. The Election Commission of India appears to have been suspiciously compromised. The Information Commission is almost non-functional. The list is long and troubling. Even academia, the press, and civil society have been systematically destroyed or silenced. Universities are under attack daily, whether it is students being accused of rioting, or teachers being accused of criminal conspiracy. The idea of an unbiased mainstream fourth estate in India died its death a long time ago. And civil society is being slowly but surely strangled, through various ways.14.But the most worrying of all is the state of the judiciary. There are many important issues that need to be deliberated upon today. With Parliament already so weakened, the Supreme Court would have been the next best space to discuss the Kashmir trifurcation, the constitutional validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act, suppression and criminalisation of protests against this law, misuse of draconian laws like sedition and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, electoral bonds, etc. Sadly, most of these are ignored or brushed aside or mysteriously kept pending for an indefinite period of time. We might not be in a state of war, but we are in a state of emergency, unprecedented for generations. Central to all this, and certainly, of most concern to me, is the role of the Supreme Court.Start of the Court’s decline15.In my view, the start of the Court’s decline coincided with the coming to power of the BJP-led NDA government in 2014. No one will deny that the NDA government swept in a new political wave, an ideology that was less centrist than we were accustomed to in the previous years, and arguably, far more right-wing than what it had exhibited in its own previous avatar. The Supreme Court’s descent was not fortuitous or coincidental, but was part of a larger, deliberately-crafted strategy on the part of the executive to seize control of the arms of the state, in ways that would benefit its own political agenda.16.There was an immediate confrontation upon the NDA taking over, in the form of the constitutional validity of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act in 2015. The Court, in a bold display of independence of spirit, struck down the legislation. Indeed, the Court’s engagement with the newly-appointed government of 2014 onwards began very well. The Court mostly stood its ground against the executive, and shone particularly brightly in matters of judicial appointments. But this is, sadly, all gone today.17.We know that the appointments of new judges and transfers of existing judges across high courts many a times are decided, or even arguably, orchestrated, by the Law Ministry. Recent instances of the transfers of Justices Akil Qureshi, Muralidhar, Jayant Patel, were all eminently questionable, but the Court did not utter a word and quietly allowed the judges to be relocated. All of the bombast about fiercely protecting independence expressed in the NJAC case seems to have been thrown to the wind.18.There was a brief watershed moment with the January 2018 press conference, where four Supreme Court judges, in an unprecedented move, went public with their grievances over matters of judicial administration and management. There were also some sparks of self-expression shown occasionally, as in the right to privacy discussed in Puttaswamy, or the Shreya Singhal case, where Section 66A of the Information Technology Act was struck down – the first time a law was struck down for violating Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, or the decriminalisation of homosexualiity, or recognising transgender rights, or the many cases pertaining to gender justice, such as those on adultery, triple talaq, and promotion in the armed forces. Note, however, that – with the exception of Section 66A – the executive is really not concerned about these issues. But wherever the executive is an actively interested party, and wants to undermine the rights of the people – usually in order to further its own realpolitik agenda – you will find that the Court is being pushed to the wall.19.The Court’s proclivity to buckle in submission in matters where the executive takes a stand has not gone unnoticed. A news report by the Indian Express showed that of the recent ten most important judgements of the Supreme Court on free speech, only four were decided in favour of the person claiming the right to free speech. Critically, in all four of these cases, the government either supported the petitioner or expressed no objection. In contrast, wherever the government opposed, the cases failed. This is how the court seems to be turning in all matters.20. The Court generally is becoming more prickly when it comes to issues of free speech, as evidenced in the most recent Prashant Bhushan case. In a display of self-proclaimed “magnanimity”, the Court let off Mr Bhushan with a fine of one rupee for the contempt case against him over two tweets, but not without chastising his conduct. In the entire proceedings, one thing was clear: the Court came across as an intolerant institution.21.The truth is that the era of the Supreme Court’s glorious jurisprudence has all but vanished. We seem to have only memories of its illustrious past to reminisce upon today. We were recently told in Puttaswamy case that the ghosts of ADM Jabalpur had been buried deep, but I fear that these ghosts may have returned to haunt us once again.Forgotten Freedoms22.The most stark representation of the Court’s decline can be seen in its failure to perform as a counter-majoritarian Court. I emphasise counter-majoritarianism because it is important to recognise the role of the Court in protecting the interests of minorities. A democracy derives its legitimacy from representing the will of the majority. But this legitimacy comes at a cost, which is invariably borne by minority groups, and especially those that are unpopular or victims of deep prejudice and who cannot influence the legislature in any way. This power to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority is the basis of judicial review powers that allow Courts to strike down laws for violating the Constitution.23.Now, though, it seems that the Court is turning away from decades of its own history, and is, instead, aligning with the majoritarian view unhesitatingly and without question. Two recent cases which demonstrate this clearly are Sabarimala and Ayodhya.24.The original 2018 Supreme Court judgment in Sabarimala was an extremely progressive one: it permitted the entry of women into the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala. But when the Kerala state government tried to implement the Court’s judgment, the BJP-led centre sided with Ayyappa devotees. The Court’s word should have been final, but the Central Government seemed to believe that was not the case.25.Soon after, review petitions were filed, but these were kept pending for certain referred questions to be decided by a larger bench. There was no stay on the main judgment. But the Court said that the referral meant that the judgement was “not final”, and therefore, refused to issue directions on a petition for seeking safe entry into Sabarimala.26.This has opened up a pandora’s box of nightmares that we might live to regret: it means the Central Government can, with impunity, ignore the Supreme Court; and that judgments can be conveniently “re-opened” through referrals in the guise of reviews. What implications does this have for the rule of law?27.The issue of rule of law and finality also came up in the Ayodhya judgment. In its unanimous but unusually anonymous decision on an essentially political issue, the Court said that the Allahabad High Court’s decision to divide the property into three parts was not “feasible” in order to maintain peace and tranquillity. However, did the Supreme Court’s judgment result in complete justice? Despite acknowledging the illegalities committed by the Hindus, in 1949 and 1992, the court effectively rewarded the wrongdoer. Surely, this is against the doctrine of equity, where one must approach the Court with clean hands.28.Just as the central government exhibited impunity in the Sabarimala judgment, in the Ayodhya case, too, the Hindu Mahasabha pressed for the withdrawal of criminal cases against the kar sevaks involved in the 1992 demolition and violence. It also demanded that the kar sevaks be given government pensions, and their names listed in the temple on the site of Masjid! – as though they were freedom fighters! The Supreme Court has said that the criminal cases must continue, but in the larger scheme of things, I am doubtful if any meaningful result will emerge.Constitutional commitments29.The failure to remain committed to the Constitution, as demonstrated by the Court’s jurisprudence on Article 21, is becoming increasingly visible. In the face of the colossal public health crisis caused by COViD-19, the lives of migrant labourers have turned upside down: they have no work, no source of income, no access to basic necessities,and no means to reach home. Instead of taking on petitions questioning the situation, for the longest time, the Court refused to admit or adjourned these petitions.30.In rejecting or adjourning these petitions, the Court made several questionable remarks: it said that governments already provided labourers with two square meals a day, so what more could they possibly need (surely, ‘not wages’); and that incidents like the horrific accident where migrant labourers sleeping on railway tracks were killed could not be avoided because ‘how can such things be stopped’.31.Many of the so-called excuses of the Court have been tackled by previous judgements, notably the question of policy and non-judicial interference, for instance, the right to food; various environmental protection policies. In these cases, the Court formulated policies and asked states to implement them. In the migrant workers case, though, it made the unfortunate presumption that the government is the best judge of the situation. The suo motu recognition of the issue by the Court also came too late. Instead, the High Courts came across as islands of rationality, courage and compassion in these times, asking questions about migrant rights. Contrast this with the Supreme Court’s reaction to the bizarre claim of the Solicitor-General who argued that the exodus of workers was due to fake news: the Court accepted this, and media houses were advised to report more responsibly.32.Our Supreme Court today, sadly, has time for a billion-dollar Indian cricket administration, or the grievances of a high-profile journalist, but studiously ignored the real plight of millions of migrants, who do not have either the money or the profile to compete for precious judicial time with other litigants.Eroded Rights33.Another kind of repression that is happening, perhaps unprecedented in modern India, is the stifling of the right to protest and to free speech. The executive is spearheading this, and the judiciary is either tacitly agreeing with the executive overtly, or maintaining silence around the issue. If we want to boast about being citizens of a democratic nation, this ought to be the first thing that worries us. 34.Take the protests against the clearly unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The constitutionality of the law was challenged in the Supreme Court, but the Court itself avoided taking up the matter for flimsy reasons. Meanwhile, the government has desperately tried to silence protestors. Indeed, the government is using every imaginable means, to silence any and all dissenting opinion, and to clamp down on any alternate views that might exist. More problematically, the judiciary is watching all this happen by the sidelines, like a mute spectator, without uttering a word. 35.Different strategies are employed in different states. In Uttar Pradesh, its Chief Minister said that he would take “revenge” against protestors, and that chanting “azadi”, or ‘freedom’, would amount to sedition! Police have been given license to run riot against peaceful protestors, by arresting them, destroying vehicles, and even entering homes. Targets tend to be young Muslims. A combination of charges under the National Security Act and the Goonda Act were used in UP.36.But the burning issue in this context has surely been the Delhi riots. The government has been targeting those who express an honest view, and engage in honest protests, and even, on occasion, stage a play! Unarmed students have been attacked by the police. Anyone critical of the establishment, regardless of their intentions, such as Apoorvanand and Yogendra Yadav, are implicated at the slightest opportunity. The strategy in Delhi has been to charge individuals with criminal offences of rioting, unlawful assembly, criminal conspiracy, and that awful colonial legacy that is sedition, to name but a few, in conjunction with the (newly interpreted) Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Contrast this treatment of civilians with that of leading politicians of the ruling BJP who have publicly delivered inciteful speeches. Shockingly, no punitive action was taken against them. Instead, the one judge who showed some inclination to take action was conveniently transferred.37.The arrests here have been to a template: if a person expresses a legitimate view against the CAA, he is promptly labelled an anti national, and the law enforcement machinery kicks in. It does not matter that the CAA is a blatantly unconstitutional law. The police says that the protesters sought to “execute a secessionist movement in the country by propagating an armed rebellion” in which “the anti-government feelings of the Muslims will be used at an appropriate time to destabilise the government.” 38. The former police officer, Julio Ribeiro, has pointed to the lack of a fair investigation in the Delhi riots, drawing similarities with the 1984 riots here. He rightly said that “riots recur in India because of the impunity accorded to one section by the political establishment of the day”. Police investigations in the riots have been based on mere “disclosures”, with no concrete evidence. Surely, this goes against all principles of fair investigation. By taking action against peaceful protesters, but deliberately failing to register cognisable offences against those making the hate speeches that triggered the riots in Delhi, the Delhi police has been accused of being partisan and politically motivated. With the police taking a majoritarian stance as well, effectively, the real culprits of the violence belonging to the majority community are allowed to get away.39.Why are the political establishment, and the police so emboldened? Undoubtedly, it is because of the weak judiciary that we have in India today. Had the Supreme Court not remained a mute spectator, and had it intervened more proactively, all this would arguably not have happened. Instead, the Supreme Court conveniently declined to intervene, showing no urgency in wanting to deal with these problems. For weeks, the matters involving many of these issues (for example, the Delhi riots) kept getting adjourned. Even where matters were heard and decided, when they were appealed, there was judicial silence. When the Allahabad High Court directed that protestors’ photographs put on hoardings should be pulled down in 24 hours as the action was unsupported by law, in appeal by the UP government, the two-judge Supreme Court bench agreed with the High Court on the unlawfulness of the action, but it still mysteriously made a reference to a three-judge bench, effectively permitting the state to ignore the High Court order.40.To make matters worse, the Supreme Court’s April 2019 decision in NIA vs. Zahoor Watali on the interpretation of the UAPA has affected all downstream decisions involving the statute. This decision has created a new doctrine, which is that effectively, an accused must remain in custody throughout the period of the trial, even if it is eventually proven that the evidence against the person was inadmissible, and the accused is finally acquitted. The illogic of this veers on the absurd: Why must an accused remain in jail only to be eventually acquitted? According to the decision delivered by Justice Khanwilkar and Justice Rastogi, in considering bail applications under the UAPA, courts must presume every allegation made in the First Information Report to be correct. Further, bail can now be obtained only if the accused produces material to contradict the prosecution. In other words, the burden rests on the accused to disprove the allegations, which is virtually impossible in most cases. The decision has essentially excluded the question of admissibility of evidence at the stage of bail. By doing so, it has effectively excluded the Evidence Act itself, which arguably makes the decision unconstitutional. Bail hearings under the UAPA are now nothing more than mere farce. With such high barriers of proof, it is now impossible for an accused to obtain bail, and is in fact a convenient tool to put a person behind bars indefinitely. It is nothing short of a nightmare come true for arrestees.41.This is being abused by the government, police and prosecution liberally: now, all dissenters are routinely implicated under (wild and improbable) charges of sedition or criminal conspiracy AND under the UAPA. Due to the Supreme Court judgement, High Courts have their hands tied, and must perforce refuse bail, as disproving the case is virtually impossible. As a result of this decision, for instance, a High Court judge can no longer really adjudicate and assess the evidence in a case. All cases must now follow this straitjacketed formula of refusing bail. The effect is nearly identical to the draconian preventive detention laws that existed during the Emergency, where courts deprived people access to judicial remedy. If we want to prevent the disasters of that era, this decision must be urgently reversed or diluted, otherwise we run the risk of personal liberties being compromised very easily.42.This abuse of the UAPA and constant rejection of bail applications of accused as a means of silencing opposing voices can be seen most in the Bhima Koregaon cases, where mere thought has been elevated to a crime. In this matter, involving the arrests of many individuals, the so-called evidence was a typed, unsigned, undated document already in the public domain, which was taken from the devices of Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha, and attributed to them. The document titled “Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution” was referred to in a book published six years ago. This document is also publicly available online. There is no section 161 witness statement that has been relied upon in the matter of Sudha Bharadwaj. But as a consequence of UAPA being applied, the accused cannot even get bail. Courts cannot go into the merits of the case due to the Supreme Court judgement. 43.The pattern followed in these arrests are all very similar: social activists, academicians, public intellectuals, who have worked in certain parts of the country are first accused of Maoist conspiracies, then with charges of misguiding Dalits, and then under the UAPA. 44.Sudha Bharadwaj has been in jail for two years. Varavara Rao, a Covid-19 patient, is not allowed to get out and receive proper treatment. We hear of fresh arrests ever so often. Navlakha’s case is a classic example of how the High Courts are being discouraged from doing anything. Navlakha made an application for bail before a Delhi High Court judge, but when the matter was being heard, without informing the Court, Navlakha was transferred to prison in Mumbai. When the judge enquired as to how and why this was done, there was no response from the government. Instead of explaining its position to the High Court, the Solicitor-General took the matter to the Supreme Court, and the Court simply rejected the bail application, virtually ending the proceedings before the High Court.Abdicating Justice45. The next characteristic contributing to the Supreme Court’s decline is in the failure to perform its fundamental role as adjudicator itself. In the Kashmir case, it has practically abdicated its role as a Court!46.The Court’s decision in the internet shutdown case (Anuradha Bhasin) was laudable in many respects, but failed to actually decide the matter. After ruling that the suspension of communication services must adhere to the principles of necessity and proportionality, the Court failed to apply these principles to actually decide the legality of the communication shutdown in Kashmir. In its decision of May 2020, instead of itself dealing with constitutional issues relating to Articles 14, 19, 21, proportionality and strict scrutiny, the Court merely upped and handed over the exercise, of “advising” the court and the administration on the applicability of Anuradha Bhasin in J&K and denial of 4G services, to an executive-led Special Review Committee. 47.This is clearly a case of misguided, and surely, constitutionally unacceptable, delegation: the executive has been asked to conduct a review of its own actions, when in fact the judiciary should have been conducting a judicial review of executive action. As expected, the Review Committee rejected the representation, leaving the entire J&K population without 4G services for an unforeseeable future (it has already been over a year!). Should this denial of the fundamental right and access to internet be ignored so unsubtly? To use Senior Counsel Arvind Datar’s phrase, this is a case of justice having been “outsourced”, which is arguably tantamount to justice being denied.48.There is also a pattern of judicial evasion being followed by the Court in the Kashmir cases: when petitioned as to how the internet shut down was affecting the public health delivery system in J&K, the Supreme Court told the petitioner to approach the High Court to avail the appropriate legal remedy. The over 1.3 crore population of J&K is suffering, with health, education, business and economy all operating at a loss, because of the executive’s internet shutdown. The Supreme Court seems to simply not want to deal with real-world problems at all.49.Contrast this with how other jurisdictions have dealt with conflicts between individual liberty and national security, as described by Mr Datar. In Liversidge v Anderson, Lord Macmillan famously observed that “The fact that the nation is at war is no justification for any relaxation of the vigilance of the courts in seeing that the law is duly observed.” After the September 11 attacks, the United Kingdom enacted a law to detain and deport non-UK citizens, if there were suspected terror links. The law was struck down in A v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, on grounds including discrimination, with the courts drawing a distinction between the subject of national security being a matter of political judgement of the executive and Parliament, and the issue of whether individual rights were violated being the subject for judicial scrutiny. Elsewhere, the US Supreme Court struck down the government Military Commission for trying detainees at Guantanamo Bay for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions in Hamdan v Rumsfeld. Note that Hamdan was Osama Bin Laden’s chauffeur, but the Court did not flinch. Similarly, when the Iranian Bank Mellat was suspected to be funding entities supporting Iran’s missile program, and the UK Treasury issued a directive prohibiting dealings with the Bank, the UK Supreme Court, in Bank Mellat v. Treasury, revoked the directive for failing to balance the rights of the bank and the interests of the community. Surely, the Indian Supreme Court should have taken a leaf out of the books of its peer institutions in the US and UK, and applied its own mind in such matters.Master of the roster50.That the judiciary is failing spectacularly to remain an independent institution is evident. That the executive is in fact responsible for this is also an open secret. How the executive is doing this is also well known. There is no need to expend energy in packing the Supreme Court with pro-government judges. Finding over 30 judges who think alike would anyway be difficult, if not impossible. The combination of opaque systems like the “master of the roster”, and a certain kind of Chief Justice of India, and a handful of “reliable” judges, is sufficient to destroy all that is considered precious by an independent judiciary. Of course, this is far from being a hypothetical scenario, and is, in fact, playing out in India right now. The truly independent and competent judges in the Court have been relegated to adjudicating private disputes, and are considered inconsequential. Many commentators have already pointed out how the last three CJIs all used the powers anointed upon themselves via the “master of the roster” to entrust politically sensitive and important matters to benches involving the recently-retired Justice Arun Mishra. 51.There is a tendency to view the threat to judicial independence in India as emerging from the executive branch, and occasionally the legislature. But when persons within the judiciary become pliable to the other branches, it is a different story altogether. Today’s situation was foreseen many decades ago by Chief Justice Y.V. Chandrachud, when, in 1985, he observed, “There is greater threat to the independence of the judiciary from within than without…” All the sermonising in the world is of no use without any real changes in the way things work.How democracies die52.In their book titled, How Democracies Die, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, write of how “most democratic breakdowns have been caused not by generals and soldiers but by elected governments”. They document the many instances of how “elected leaders have subverted democratic institutions” across the world. This subversion is carried out by the constitutional sanction of the ballot box, and even with approval from the legislature and the judiciary. Throughout, there is always the assurance that the democractic wheels are still turning. Levitsky and Ziblatt call the leaders who thrive in such situations “elected autocrats”. Such elected autocracts weaponise institutions, to use them as political ammunition. They compel the media and the private sector into silence, and they redraft rules to suit their interests over those of their political opponents. Critical voices still rise up in the backdrop but those who dare to question the powers that be end up at the receiving end of all kinds of trouble – they are charged with making seditious remarks, or evading taxes, or some such thing. In this way, they use “the very institutions of democracy .. to kill it”. 53.To put it bluntly, this is what is happening in India today. In the face of all this, the one institution which has the capacity to turn the tide is the judiciary. Unfortunately, it seems to have lost its way. There was a period in history, during the Emergency, as well, when the Supreme Court failed the nation, but it realised its follies and returned to its natural path in course of time. Now, too, we have many judges and exemplary lawyers in practice who are sincere and committed to constitutionalism and to the rule of law. I expect they will rise to the occasion. The occasion is now. More than 70 years ago, in the Constituent Assembly, Nehru had said that we needed judges of the “highest integrity”, who would be “[persons] who can stand up against the executive government and whoever might come in their way.” I am hopeful that we will once again be able to see judges like these thrive in India. Subscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. All payment options available.loading….Next Storylast_img read more

How do I prepare my credit union for a DR test?

first_img 20SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr One of the questions we are often asked about disaster recovery is: How does Ongoing Operations prepare a credit union for a disaster recovery test?Normally, we find with credit unions that they are required by the NCUA to do disaster recovery tests. However, this requirement is normally rolled into everything else that your credit union is doing with DR, so your credit union is not truly prepared for the test.One of the services that Ongoing Operations provides is setting up a systematic process to prepare for this test. The process starts off with an Ongoing Operations vCIO engaging your credit union and setting you up with what’s called the server matrix. This matrix asks three main questions: continue reading »last_img read more

NAFTA deal possible by end of March says Canadian envoy MacNaughton

first_imgOTTAWA – Canada’s ambassador to the United States said Monday he believes NAFTA negotiators can reach an agreement in principle by the end of March.The upbeat assessment from envoy David MacNaughton comes in the face of the continuing threat from U.S. President Donald Trump to blow up the deal, which hangs over the final eight weeks in the current negotiating schedule.MacNaughton refused to speculate on whether Trump is likely to pull out of NAFTA, but he said enough progress has been made on the “wiring and plumbing” of the agreement that all three countries can iron out their differences on the more substantial issues in the next two months.“I would love to see a deal done,” the envoy said after an event in Ottawa with his U.S. counterpart, Kelly Craft. “We’ve made tremendous progress on some of the less spectacular things.”Craft said little about the substance of the negotiations in her appearance with MacNaughton during a staged question-and-answer session at a conference on North American energy. But the two ambassadors did laud their close co-operation and the ties of friendship between Canada and the U.S.Craft dropped a broad hint that she doesn’t find her president’s rhetoric helpful.“When President Trump asked me to consider serving as U.S. ambassador to Canada, he promised that this would be very interesting and very, very important,” she said.“I don’t really need him to continually say ‘tear up NAFTA’ to keep it interesting. A little bit of boring would have been just fine with me.”MacNaughton said the time has come to leave political rhetoric behind and find a workable agreement in principle that officials can hammer out later.“There are still four or five sticking points,” he said.“I think we roll up our sleeves and work hard on them we can at least get to the point where we’ve got an understanding, whether it be an agreement in principle or whatever it is, which we then allow technical people to work on.”Two more rounds of negotiations are set to take place before presidential elections in Mexico and the U.S. congressional midterms, which observers fear could prove disruptive.The lingering doubt is bad for the U.S. economy and business in general, MacNaughton said.“The uncertainty causes people to sit on their wallets rather than make investments,” he said. “I’d hate to see that stalled because of the uncertainty around NAFTA.”Substantial differences remain on autos, a sunset clause and an investor-dispute resolution mechanism, while U.S. demands for greater market access to Canada’s protected dairy industry also loom large.The NAFTA renegotiation survived its sixth round of talks in Montreal, with the U.S. dialing down some of its negative rhetoric, including its imminent threats of withdrawal.U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer said he was unsatisfied with Canadian proposals on autos and characterized a Canadian complaint to the World Trade Organization as a “massive attack” against the U.S. trading system. But he said enough progress was made in Montreal to continue the talks.Craft said the U.S. wants to see greater energy co-operation between Canada, Mexico and the United States reflected in an updated NAFTA.“The United States wants NAFTA modernization to strengthen the North American energy revolution and promote North American energy security and self-sufficiency,” said Craft.“A separate energy chapter must add value not duplicate obligations found in other chapters.”Craft did not elaborate and left the event without speaking to reporters afterwards.last_img read more

US midterm results could delay new trade deal into 2020 watchers warn

first_imgOTTAWA – Canadians are inspecting the new U.S. political landscape following midterm election results that many believe have added fresh trade-related uncertainty.The Democrats’ majority victory in the House of Representatives could mean the ratification of the recently struck United States-Mexico-Canada deal, known as USMCA, will have to wait well into 2019 — or even until 2020.Experts predict the pact will eventually gain approval, but until it’s ratified businesses will have to deal with considerable unknowns as they try to make longer-term decisions on export strategy and investments.“There will be a lot of uncertainty for a number of months and that uncertainty is not good for Canadian business interests,” said Lawrence Herman, a Toronto-based trade lawyer with Herman and Associates. “There is a chance that the Democrats would agree to have this deal approved. On the other hand, as we’ve heard, there are those in the Democratic party who don’t want to give Trump and the Republicans any kind of break whatsoever.”Dan Ujczo, an Ohio-based international trade specialist, said it will be a “political miracle” to have the USMCA voted on in the spring.March, he added, is the earliest the deal could be voted on in Congress. Before that, the practical aspects of choosing a new speaker and committee chairs’ settling into their positions will take up considerable time. He also noted the 2020 U.S. election season will likely begin as early as spring 2019.“We’ll be lucky to get a vote in 2019,” said Ujczo, a partner in the law firm Dickinson Wright. “I think we’ve got to realistically look at 2020.”U.S. trade deals must be passed by both the House and the Senate, where the Republicans strengthened their majority in Tuesday’s vote.A senior Canadian source with knowledge of the trade discussions said Wednesday that Ottawa doesn’t think the midterm results have changed much in terms of timing when it comes to USMCA’s ratification. They insisted ratification has been considered dependent on calendars in the U.S. and Mexico all along.While Ottawa expects the Democrats’ new majority in the House to lead to political battles on trade, the feds are comfortable there’s widespread, bipartisan support for the U.S.-Canada trading relationship, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.The U.S. political parties, the official added, will need to find areas of common ground and Ottawa thinks USMCA will be one of them.Capri Cafaro, executive in residence at American University’s School of Public Affairs in Washington, said she doesn’t expect the obvious divisions between the parties to hold up USMCA’s ratification for too long. Cafaro, a former Democratic minority leader in the Ohio state senate, expects the deal to be very early business in 2019.The Democrats have traditionally stood for free and fair trade, she said.“It is more likely than not that this might be an area where Democrats could work with the Trump administration and push it forward,” she said.“I don’t foresee it being an issue, but you never know.”Canada should also keep the worst-case scenario in mind — the USMCA fails to pass Congress and U.S. President Donald Trump decides to terminate the deal.Trump has repeatedly called NAFTA one of the worst trade deals he’s ever seen and he did so again at a news conference Wednesday. He called on the Republicans and Democrats to come together in support of the deal.“USMCA has gotten rave reviews,” Trump insisted as he addressed reporters.“Now is the time for members of both parties to join together, put partisanship aside and keep the American economic miracle going strong. It is a miracle — we’re doing so well.”Canada will also scrutinize the midterm results for other cross-border impacts, including the fate of the Trump administration’s painful tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from north of the border.Unifor president Jerry Dias, whose union represents auto workers, said now that the midterms are over Canadian MPs from all parties must apply more pressure to secure the removal of unjust tariffs he argues were imposed to score political points with the Republican base.But neither Cafaro nor Ujczo expects the U.S. tariffs — which allies, including Canada, have responded to with countermeasures of their own — will disappear any time soon.“I think barring significant market forces — that may have even more significant political implications — I don’t see the tariff issues going away,” Cafaro said.Ujczo said he hopes the tariffs are lifted by the USMCA signing at the end of November, but he noted there’s an increasing expectation in the business community that the levies will remain in place well into 2019.last_img read more

Legal challenge filed over highstakes competition to design 60B warships

first_imgOTTAWA — The $60-billion effort to build new warships for the navy has hit another snag, this time in the form of a legal challenge by one of three companies involved in the high-stakes competition to design the vessels.The federal government announced last month that U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin beat out two rivals in the long and extremely sensitive competition to design replacements for the navy’s frigates and destroyers.Lockheed’s design was based on a new class of frigates for the British navy. The company is now negotiating a final contract with the government and Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding, which will build the ships.But one of the other two companies, Alion Science and Technology, is now asking the Federal Court to quash the government’s decision, saying Lockheed’s design did not meet the government’s stated requirements and should have been disqualified.Industry insiders had long warned that Lockheed’s selection as the top bidder combined with several changes to the competition after it was launched — including a number of deadline extensions — would spark lawsuits.While the government, Irving and Lockheed Martin are declining to comment, federal officials have previously defended the way the competition was run and expressed confidence about defending the decision in court.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

BC Secondary Schools receive their annual Report Card

first_imgVANCOUVER, B.C. – The annual Report Card on B.C’s Secondary Schools was released by the Fraser Institute, a tool that Secondary Schools academic performances can be compared.Based on seven academic indicators using student results from annual provincewide exams, grade-to-grade transition rates, and graduation rates, this Report ranks 251 public and independent secondary schools.Of the top 53 schools in the ranking (seven were tied for 47th) 24 are public schools and 29 are independent schools. Located in 26 different cities and towns across the province, including Revelstoke, Summerland, Agassiz, Hope, and Duncan. “All too often, we hear excuses that public schools can’t compete with independent schools because of the communities and students that they serve, but that’s just not true—every school can improve and strive to rank higher than the year before,” said Angela MacLeod, a Fraser Institute senior policy analyst.These are the rankings for schools in the North and South Peace Region;106/251 – Dawson Creek215/251 – Fort Nelson244/251 – Fort St. John246/251 – ChetwyndThis year, 36 schools showed statistically significant declines in performance over the past four years, and 33 showed statistically significant improvement.“This Report Card proves that improvement is possible in every corner of the province, in every type of school serving every type of student,” MacLeod said.Notably, of the top 10 fastest-improving schools—regardless of rank—seven are located outside the Greater Vancouver Area in Agassiz, Chilliwack, Invermere, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Terrace and 100 Mile House. In fact, none are in the City of Vancouver.For the complete results on all ranked schools, and to easily compare the performance of different schools; CLICK HERElast_img read more

Tindouf Camps Fertile Ground for Terrorism and Embezzlement of Humanitarian Aid

first_imgRabat- The Tindouf camps are increasingly becoming Fertile Ground for Terrorism and Embezzlement of Humanitarian Aid.Saharawis living in the Tindouf camps controlled by the Algerian-backed Polisario Front are systematically denied the basic human rights of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. They are prevented from moving freely between the camps and are prohibited from leaving Tindouf without the express permission of the Polisario leadership.The Saharawis are housed in five separate camps in Toudouf, each a ta distance of between 30km and 172 km. Husbands, wives, and siblings are separated. Children are often removed from their parents’ care within the camps and then sent to Cuba for many years.  While in Cuba, they lose contact with their families, and are often exploited and put to work in domestic service, factories, and agriculture, and subjected to military training. At the camps, women and the elderly are compelled to carry out forced manual labour in extreme heat in the summer and extreme cold in the winter. The camp system is cruel; penalties and intimidation are used to keep control and ensure conformity with the Polisario’s edicts. Dissent is publically punished, and torture and imprisonment are commonplace. Children are forced to watch the public punishment of their parents.Many Saharawis would like to leave Tindouf, but cannot.Those who express such a desire openly soon find that their family members have been moved to other camps and/or their children sent to Cuba. This effectively ensures that they remain in the camps, as hostages, and that they continue to comply with the Polisario’s regime and dictates, while waiting and hoping to be re-united with their spouses and/or children.Some Saharawi refugees have managed to escape from the camps and have described the hardships and cruelty which exists in the camps. They attest to the corruption of the Polisario leadership and its misuse of the international humanitarian financial and material assistance received for the benefit of the refugees.Much of the food and medicine donated by NGOs to benefit the refugees, for example, does not reach the refugees, but instead is sold in the markets of North African countries such as Mali, Mauritania,and Algeria, to raise money for the Polisario to purchase weapons and ammunition.  Hans R. Wittewer, the Representative of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRCC), said “funds destined for the Sahraoui program, in the form of advances coming from the World Food Program and the European Union, which were earmarked to cover the cost of transportation and custom’s duties, have instead been used to purchase airline tickets for travel abroad by the Polisario leadership.”According to the latest report published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its offshoots in the Sahel are already working to expand their partnership with smugglers from the massive refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria, and to enlist recruits among the disenchanted youth there. If Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb strengthened its alliance of convenience with the Polisario, a formidable terrorist organization could emerge.”The latest report from the International Center for Terrorism Studies (ICTS), an office within the US think tank The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, called for dismantling the Polisario militias and the release of the population detained in the Tindouf camps, which have become a “breeding ground” for al-Qaeda recruiters and traffickers of all kinds. ICTS director, Yonah Alexander, urged the international community to take “a census of the populations of the Tindouf camps,” considered a “threat to regional security and a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists and drug traffickers.”Today, history offers a golden opportunity for the Polisario to accept the only solution possible, indeed the best one in many people’s view, of political autonomy under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Morocco.If the Polisario leaders have the slightest bit of compassion or respect for the Sahraouis, they should readily seize this historic opportunity to avoid being trapped in the present circumstances and not be a thorn in the side of the Kingdom of Morocco to others to obtain political hegemony.Edited by Elisabeth Myers© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributedlast_img read more