Law minister DV Sadanand Gowda on Friday said he was surprised by the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the National Judicial Advisory Committee Act 2014, which gave the government a say in the appointment of higher judiciary judges. Gowda said he would consult with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders on the issue. Earlier in the day, the court had declared the NJAC Act unconstitutional, and said the 20-year-old collegium system, in which only judges make the appointments, will continue. However, the court said the old system needs significant improvements.
Haryana CM denies beef statement
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s office on Friday denied telling the Indian Express that Muslims can live in India only if they give up eating beef. The report had also quoted Khattar saying, “They can be Muslim even after they stop eating beef, can’t they? It is written nowhere that Muslims have to eat beef, nor is it written anywhere in Christianity that they have to eat beef.” The Bharatiya Janata Party distanced itself from Khattar's remarks and said this was not their official stand.
Special court dismisses CBI charges
A special court on Thursday said the Central Bureau of Investigation had filed a “fabricated and false” chargesheet in the 2G spectrum case. The court also let off former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms – HutchisonMax (P) Ltd, Sterling Cellular Ltd and Bharti Cellular Ltd. They had all been charged with criminal conspiracy under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The court ruled that there was no incriminating evidence against the accused, and the CBI should take action against officials who had filed the chargesheet, which was full of distorted facts.
SC suspends ban on Maharashtra dance bars
The Supreme Court on Thursday put on hold a state law passed last year banning dance bars in Maharashtra. The judgment also provided licensing authorities the power to regulate “indecent dance performances” and added that it was the duty of the state police to ensure the dignity of women was protected. Passed unanimously in 2014, the state law had overruled earlier judgments of the Supreme Court and Bombay High Court upholding the rights of women bar dancers to follow their profession. Following the Supreme Court's ruling on Thursday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he favoured a blanket ban on dance bars.
SC extends voluntary use of Aadhaar
The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the use of Aadhaar for four more government schemes, as long as the Centre makes it clear that the card is voluntary, not mandatory. The Aadhaar card, which was earlier limited to the public distribution system and the supply of LPG and kerosene, was extended to pensions, provident fund, the Jan Dhan Yojana and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The question of privacy has caused the Supreme Court to be circumspect in allowing the government to link the card with many of its projects. On Wednesday, the Centre had promised the court that no citizen would be denied benefits just because they did not have an Aadhaar card.
Kashmir deal almost signed in 2007: former envoy
India and Pakistan had reached an agreement on the Kashmir dispute in 2007, but nothing could be signed because of the turmoil that led to President Pervez Musharraf’s ouster from the government, according to Satinder Lambah, special envoy of former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Lambah told Hindustan Times that Pakistan had agreed to discard its long-held position of seeking a referendum for Kashmir. Both countries had also agreed not to redraw borders. In November 2007, Musharraf declared an emergency rule in Pakistan, before being forced to step down and go into exile a year later to avoid being prosecuted. The 2008 terror attack in Mumbai put an end to any further dialogue on the matter between the two countries, Lambah said.
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