Is Delhi govt pension scheme only for sr citizens? PIL in HC

Is the Delhi government obligated to pay pension to destitute persons, widows, eunuchs and the orphans till they turn 18, apart from senior citizens and those with over 40 per cent disability, is a question raised in a plea before the Delhi High Court.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Delhi government and sought its stand on whether it will provide pension to destitute persons, widows, eunuchs and orphans who used to receive the benefit under the schemes of the municipal corporations taken over by it.

The court was hearing an application moved by an NGO, Social Jurist, alleging that the Delhi government under its pension scheme was only considering senior citizens and those with disability of 40 per cent or more.

In its application filed through advocate Ashok Aggarwal, the NGO has said the government took over the responsibility of providing pension from the corporations which under their schemes provided the monetary benefit to destitute persons, disabled, widows, those who are insane, divorcee women, eunuch and also to orphans, till they turn 18, besides senior citizens.

The application questions how the government, after taking over the responsibility, can restrict the benefit of the scheme to only some categories.

The Delhi government had taken over the scheme after the municipal corporations stopped the monetary benefits due to lack of funds.

The Delhi government, represented by its lawyer Santosh Tripathi, said it was carrying out a verification process.

Right to privacy can’t be absolute, may be regulated: SC

Right to privacy cannot be an absolute right and the State may have some power to put reasonable restriction, the Supreme Court said today while examining the issue whether it can be declared as a fundamental right under the Constitution.

A nine-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar, also asked the Centre and others to assist it about the “contours” and ambit of test on which the width and scope of right to privacy and its infringement, if any, by the State would be tested.

The bench then referred to the apex court judgement, criminalising gay sex and said if right to privacy was construed in its widest sense, then the verdict in the Naz Foundation case “would become vulnerable”.

The NGO, Naz Foundation, has been fighting a legal battle for decriminalising consensual unnatural sex including lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.

During the day-long hearing, the bench, also comprising Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, Rohinton Fali Nariman, Abhay Manohar Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer, said, “Right to privacy is an amorphous right and not absolute. It is only a small sub-sect of liberty.”

It then gave illustrations including that giving birth to offsprings might fall under right to privacy and the parents could not say that the government did not have the power to direct sending every child to schools.

It also referred to issue of data protection and said that its ambit was “much wider” than right to privacy and “cataloguing the contents of privacy” has the danger of limiting the right itself.

“We live in an age of big data and the state is entitled to regulate the data whether it is for the purpose of regulating crime, taxation or other activities… Right to privacy cannot be so absolute that it prevents the State from legislating or regulating it,” the bench said.

If a bank has sought personal details for disbursing loans then it could not be said to be an infringement of right to privacy, it said, adding that the issues like one’s sexual orientation and the bedroom details were covered under right to privacy.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for one of the petitioners, initiated the arguments and said right to privacy was an “inalienable” and “inherent” to the most important fundamental right which the right to liberty.

He said the right to liberty, which also included right to privacy, was a pre-existing “natural right” which the Constitution acknowledged and guaranteed to the citizens in case of infringements by the State.

“Liberty is the fundamental value of our Constitution.

Life and liberty are natural existing rights which our Constitution acknowledges and guarantees. How can liberty be at all experienced without privacy?,” he asked.

Subramanium, at the outset, referred to apex court verdicts to highlight the process of interpretation of fundamental rights by it and assailed the two judgements delivered in M P Sharma and Kharak Singh cases by an eight- judge and six judge benches in 1954 and 1962 respectively in which it was held that right to privacy was not a fundamental right.

The issue of right to privacy as a fundamental right was deliberated upon by the court in the two cases.

“It is submitted that the decision in the 1954 and 1962 cases, to the extent they interpret fundamental rights on a distinctive basis (as recognised in the A K Gopalan case of 1950) are no longer good law.

“In view of the fact that the A K Gopalan case stands overruled in the R C Cooper case (of 1970), it follows a fortiori (from a stronger argument) that neither of the above decisions are effective.”

He assailed the M P Sharma verdict which had held that right to privacy was not a fundamental right, saying that the M P Sharma case was not “an authority for the proposition that there is no fundamental right to privacy in the Constitution”.

He argued that right to privacy is inherent to the right to liberty and the Constitution “mediates” between the citizens and the State and the concept of privacy is “embedded in liberty as well as honour of a person”.

He then referred to the Preamble and Article 14 (equality before law), 19 (freedom of speech and expression) and 21 (protection of life and liberty) of the Constitution to contend that right to privacy was intrinsic to these “inalienable” fundamental rights also.

The counsel assailed the contention of Attorney General K K Venugopal that right to privacy was a “common law right” and not the fundamental one and said it “went much beyond the common law” as it was inherently attached to the basic rights of life and liberty.

“Right to privacy invariably means the inviolability of the person. The expression ‘person’ includes the body as well as the inviolate personality and the privacy really is intended to indicate the realm of inviolable sanctuary that most of us sense in our beings.

“It refers to spatial sanctity, freedom in decisional autonomy, informational privacy as well as the ability to freely develop one’s personality and exercise discretion and judgement,” he said.

Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, appearing in support of privacy right, went much beyond and said even if the Constitution did not “explicitly” provide this right, it could be deduced as had been done in the case of freedom of press.

He referred to Article 19 and said it dealt with the freedom of speech and expression and the apex court deduced the media right from it.

Another senior advocate Shyam Divan also said privacy right was a fundamental right according to the “golden triangle” rule that comprised Article 14, 19 and 21.

“As recognised by an unbroken line of decisions of this court since 1975, right to privacy is protected under Part III of the Constitution. This court has recognised several unenumerated rights as facets of Article 21.

“Similarly, right to privacy has also been recognised as flowing from Article 21,” he said.

He said that right to privacy extends to several aspects, including body integrity, personal autonomy, right to be left alone, informational self-determination and protection from State surveillance.

The bench, at one point, stopped Divan from raising issues relating to Aadhaar that that government could not force citizens to give biometric details and asked him to focus on the privacy issue alone.

When the bench asked whether privacy right could be absolute and the government could put some restriction or not, he said that the aspect of privacy might be determined on a case-to-case basis.

“In a technologically dynamic society it is imperative to keep dimensions of right to privacy flexible to adapt and adjust with the new scenarios,” he said, adding many of the fundamental rights “cannot be enjoyed to the fullest in the absence of right to privacy”.

He further referred to the fact that India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and now to say that right to privacy is a common law right only will be a “regressive” step.

He said the recognition of “fundamental right to privacy” is consistent with international norms and has been recognised internationally as a human right and is protected in almost all liberal democracies.

Another senior advocate Arvind Dutta also submitted that right to privacy should be treated as a fundamental right.

The argument will continue tomorrow and that attorney general is likely to put the government’s view across.

DDA moves NGT agst stay on construction at Qutab Golf Course

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) today moved the National Green Tribunal against its order staying the construction of five artificial lakes in South Delhi allegedly by concretising the pits.

On July 12, a bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim had restrained DDA from carrying out any activity after it had failed to respond to an NGO’s plea alleging that concretisation of the lakes would adversely affect recharge of ground water in the Qutab Golf Course at the Lado Sarai area.

Seeking vacaction of the stay, DDA told the green panel that if the order was not vacated, it would cause a great loss to the public exchequer.

In its plea, filed through advocate Kush Sharma, DDA has contended that the five lakes, as alleged by the NGO, were already in existence since the inception of the golf course in 2000.

“Hence, the allegation that DDA is constructing new artificial lakes is outrageously false and the same is a figment of the petitioner’s imagination having publicity- centric mind and have been made with a sole motive of just to gain publicity by interfering in the smooth operation of DDA’s plan for renovation of the Qutub Golf Course.

“The renovation has been framed with a view to stop the wastage of water during watering on turf, for getting rid of contaminated grass and weeds, for planting variety of hybrid grass and to further ensure that sufficient green area is maintained within the Golf Course premises,” the plea said.

DDA has contended that it tried to file its reply in the case which had annexures including certain maps of the site in question but had failed to do so due to non-conversion of maps in PDF format.

“Due to the new NGT guidelines for e-filing of documents, DDA tried to contact various photostat vendors to convert the maps to PDF format as required by the registry but due to non-availability of the technology in the nearby area, the maps could not be converted to PDF format and the reply could not be filed on time,” it said.

The stay order of the green panel had come during the hearing of the plea by NGO CHETNA seeking a stay on such construction activity and asking the DDA to place on record the source of water that is intended to be used for the lakes.

The NGO had claimed that due to insufficient rainfall in Delhi, the artificial water bodies proposed to be constructed, cannot possibly be filled up on a sustainable basis by rainwater.

It said it had written a letter to DDA and the Chief Secretary of Delhi government informing them about the ongoing work to create five artificial lakes and requesting them to intervene and immediately stop the “ill-conceived project and criminal waste of public money.”

“However, there has been no response to the said letters till date and the applicant is constrained to approach this tribunal,” the plea had said.

200 green activists killed in 2016, record toll: watchdog

At least 200 environmental campaigners and protectors — 40 per cent from indigenous tribes — were murdered around the world in 2016, the deadliest year on record, the watchdog organisation Global Witness said today.

The grim tally, double the number slain two years earlier, is the largest since the NGO began tracking such violence in 2002, it reported.

The real number is probably higher as some killings go undocumented.

Fatal attacks against activists have become more widespread, occurring in 24 countries in 2016, compared to 16 the year before.

Brazil, Colombia, and the Philippines accounted for more than half of the confirmed deaths, followed by India, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Bangladesh.

Sixty per cent of those murdered were from Latin America.

“The battle to protect the planet is rapidly intensifying, and the cost can be counted in human lives,” said Global Witness campaigner Ben Leather.

“More people in more countries are being left with no option but to take a stand against the theft of their land or the trashing of their environment.”

Of the 100 killings that could be traced to specific industrial sectors, a third were linked to mining and oil operations, and a fifth each to logging and agribusiness.

Hydroelectric dams can also be a source of tension. On March 2, 2016, gunmen burst into the home of Honduran activist Berta Caceres and shot her dead.

“The mother of four lost her life because she opposed the construction of the Agua Zarca hydropower dam on her community’s land,” said the report. The UN Environment Programme posthumously made Caceres one its “Champions of the Earth” in recognition of her advocacy of sustainable development.

Eight people have been arrested in connection with the murder, among them an employee of dam construction company Desarrollos Energeticos.

Protecting national parks — where poachers hunt endangered species for meat and valuable body parts, such as elephant tusks — proved to be a deadly occupation in 2016, with nine rangers murdered in 2016 in the DRC alone. Eleven others lost their lives elsewhere in the world.

Most of the violence occurs in tropical countries, where poorly-regulated mining, logging and industrial-scale agriculture can lead to polluted water supplies, land grabs, and the displacement of indigenous peoples.

Corruption and legal abuses sometimes resulted in law enforcers targeting environmental campaigners rather than protecting them.

Police and soldiers have been identified as suspects in at least 43 killings, according to Global Witness, which listed all 200 victims.

“Murder is the sharp end of a range of tactics used to silence defenders, including death threats, arrests, sexual assault, abductions and aggressive legal attacks,” the NGO said.

The 50-page report highlights the testimony of activists who have confronted intimidation and violence for protesting what they describe as the environmental pillaging of their homelands.

“We’re experiencing a complete breakdown of law,” said a campaigner known by the name of Richin, who has joined the Adivasi tribespeople in opposing large-scale mining in Chhattisgarh, a state in central-east India.

“The state isn’t protecting people’s land rights and is acting like an agent for mining companies.” Sixteen activists were killed in India in 2016, mostly over mining projects, a three-fold increase from the year before.

The annual toll more than doubled in Colombia, where extractive industries backed by the government and funded by international development banks faced protests from indigenous peoples who say their land has been misappropriated, and their water fouled.

In December, Wayuu rights activist Jakeline Romero — who spoke out against alleged abuses by corporations and paramilitary groups in the region of La Guajira — received a pointed threat.

“Don’t focus on what doesn’t concern you if you want to avoid problems,” she was told in an anonymous text message.

“Your daughters are very lovely… Bitch, avoid problems because even your mother could be disappeared.”

MEA starts process to revoke passport of Zakir Naik

The external affairs ministry said today it has started the process to revoke the passport of Zakir Naik, the controversial Islamic preacher who is wanted in connection with alleged terror-funding cases.

“We have received a request from the agency concerned a few days ago. We have taken action on that request to revoke the passport. There is a process for such steps which need to be complied with under the provisions of the law and we have taken action,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in reply to a question.

Naik is being probed for terror and money laundering charges by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). He fled from India on July 1, 2016 after terrorists in neighbouring Bangladesh claimed that they were inspired by his speeches on waging ‘jihad’.

Naik had his passport renewed in January last year and it has a validity for 10 years, according to security agencies.

The NIA, on November 18, 2016, had registered a criminal case against Naik at its Mumbai branch under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

His organisation, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), has already been declared as an unlawful association by the government.

The controversial preacher is accused of spreading hatred by his provocative speeches, funding terrorists and laundering several crores of rupees over the years.

He has been served with a show cause notice by the passport authorities asking him as to why his travel document should not be revoked.

The Interpol was approached against Naik after a year- long probe during which the NIA gathered evidence of his IRF and Peace TV being used to allegedly promote hatred between different religious groups.

The central government has already banned his NGO and taken his TV channel off air.

Delhi High Court seeks report from AAP govt on vacant posts of food inspectors

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government to inform it about the number of vacant post of food inspectors, which is hampering an effective check on the use of pesticides in vegetables and fruits sold in the national capital.

A bench of acting chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar directed the Delhi government to file a status report on the number of food inspectors after being told that vacancies were still not filled.

The court has now fixed the matter for hearing on 1 November.

Earlier, the high court was informed that in a number of vegetables and edible items, pesticide residue was found to be beyond permissible limits.

However, owing to the shortage of food inspectors, such vegetables and fruits reach households, thus posing a serious threat to people’s health.

According to a report filed by amicus curiae, who is assisting a court, large quantity of vegetables and fruits sold in the capital contains dangerous pesticides that can cause serious health problems.

It had claimed that due to excessive usage of pesticides in fruits and vegetable, “various countries have banned the import of Indian vegetables and fruits and many more are under scrutiny”.

The high court initiated the issue on its own after an NGO found that vegetables and fruits sold in the Delhi’s markets contain poisons capable of causing cancer and harming the nervous system and liver.

NGOs taken off schools for low quality food continue to serve at anganwadis

An RTI reply from the DoE, received in April 2017, shows that services of three suppliers were discontinued in 2013 after worms were found in the food they had served children, who had to be hospitalised.
Non-profit organisations, whose services were discontinued under one scheme for serving food with worms to children are continuing to feed them under a different one — all because of the lack of coordination between two departments of the same government, an RTI reply has revealed. The Directorate of Education (DoE) had, in 2013, discontinued services of many NGOs for serving poor-quality mid-day meals (MDMs). The same NGOs, however, are providing meals under the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) scheme at anganwadi centres run by the Women and Child Development (WCD) department. Both these schemes, constituted under the Food Security Act 2013, are aimed at providing nutrition to women and children. The MDM scheme caters to children up to Class VII and ICDS serves children up to the age of six years and pregnant and lactating women.
An RTI reply from the DoE, received in April 2017, shows that services of three suppliers were discontinued in 2013 after worms were found in the food they had served children, who had to be hospitalised. However, an RTI reply from the WCD department, received on January 25, 2017, shows that three of the suppliers — Indcare Trust, The People Welfare Society and Ekta Shakti Foundation — whose services were discontinued in 2013 are still giving food in anganwadis. A total of 22 NGOs are supplying food to anganwadis. The RTIs were filed by Matri Sudha, an NGO which works in the field of nutrition and education.
While Indcare Trust and Ekta Shakti Foundation confirmed that they are part of the ICDS scheme, The People Welfare Society could not be reached for comment. “Our services were not discontinued… We finished our terms. As we were not satisfied, we took the government to court. The case is being heard,” Indcare chairperson Reeva Sood said. A representative of Ekta Shakti, meanwhile, said the allegations against them have not been proven. Deputy Director, ICDS, Nisha Agarwal, said she was not aware of the issue. “I have just joined the department and will have to check,” she said. The lack of co-ordination between the two departments does not end here.
An NGO — Jan Chetna Jagriti Arom Shakshik Vikas Manch — which was blacklisted by the WCD department between 2015 and 2016 was supplying mid-day meals in schools until three months ago. A dead rat was found in the meals provided by the NGO at a school in Deoli in February and only then were its services discontinued. Nine children had to be hospitalised. While DoE officials said they were doing their best to provide quality food, experts said the problem will be streamlined only with the establishment of the state food commission. “There is a clear lack of coordination because there is no single agency to monitor these schemes. For this, the constitution of the state food commission — as mandated under the Act — is important. Delhi has not done this so far,” Arvind Singh of Matri Sudha said.
In 2013, the then Lieutenant Governor had notified that the Public Grievance Commission will work as the state food commission. This notification is yet to be implemented, RTI replies state. A government official, however, claimed the process to set up the commission is underway.
(Source: http://indianexpress.com)

योग को बढ़ावा देने में उत्कृष्ट योगदान के लिए प्रधानमंत्री पुरस्कार घोषित

राममणि आयंगार स्मारक योग संस्थान, पुणे ने प्रतिष्ठित पुरस्कार जीता

Yoga (photo- India Today)

योग को बढ़ावा देने और उसके विकास में उत्कृष्ट योगदान देने के लिए पहले प्रधानमंत्री पुरस्‍कार के लिए राममणि आयंगार स्मारक योग संस्थान का चयन किया गया है। इस पुरस्कार की शुरूआत करने की घोषणा प्रधानमंत्री ने पिछले वर्ष चंडीगढ़ में दूसरे अंतर्राष्ट्रीय योग दिवस के अवसर पर 21 जून, 2016 को की थी।

पुरस्कार की सिफारिश मंत्रिमंडल सचिव की अध्यक्षता में गठित एक मूल्यांकन समिति (जूरी) ने की। इसमें प्रधानमंत्री के अतिरिक्त प्रधान सचिव, विदेश सचिव, सचिव (आयुष) और डॉ. विरेन्द्र हेगड़े सदस्य के रूप में शामिल थे। समिति ने अनुवीक्षण समिति की सिफारिशों की जांच की और संस्थानों और अलग-अलग व्यक्तियों के योगदानों का स्वयं विश्लेषण किया तथा प्रतिष्ठित पुरस्कार के लिए पुणे स्थित राममणि आयंगार स्मारक योग संस्थान की सिफारिश की। सरकार ने योग को बढावा देने और उसके विकास में उत्कृष्ट योगदान देने के लिए राममणि आयंगार स्मारक योग संस्थान को प्रधानमंत्री पुरस्कार से सम्मानित करने की समिति की सिफारिश को स्वीकार कर लिया।

आयुष मंत्रालय ने विज्ञापन के जरिए पुरस्कार के लिए नामांकन आमंत्रित किए थे। मंत्रालय ने पुरस्कार के लिए दिशा-निर्देश तैयार किए थे। दो समितियां – अनुवीक्षण समिति (प्रारंभिक मूल्यांकन के लिए) और मूल्यांकन समिति (जूरी) गठित की गयी ताकि पुरस्कारों के बारे में अंतिम फैसला लेने में पारदर्शी प्रक्रिया अपनायी जा सके।

पुरस्कार का चयन इसके लिए प्राप्त 85 नामांकनों में से किया गया और 15 की अनुवीक्षण समिति द्वारा सिफारिश की गयी। अनुवीक्षण समिति ने अलग-अलग व्यक्तियों और संस्थानों के योगदान के बारे में विस्तृत चर्चा और विश्लेषण करने के बाद प्राप्त आवेदनों में से 16 नाम छांटे। साथ ही समिति ने योग सिखाने वाले जाने-माने ऐसे 15 व्यक्तियों/संगठनों के नामों पर भी विचार करने की सिफारिश की जिन्होंने योग को बढ़ावा देने के क्षेत्र में काफी लंबे समय विश्वनीयता हासिल की लेकिन प्राप्त आवेदनों में जिनका नाम नहीं था। सभी तथ्यों और जानकारियों पर विचार करने के बाद जूरी ने सिफारिश की इस वर्ष का पुरस्कार पुणे स्थित राममणि आयंगार स्मारक योग संस्थान को दिया जाए।

राममणि आयंगार स्मारक योग संस्थान योग के प्रसार के लिए अंतर्राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर 4 दशक से भी अधिक समय से कार्य कर रहा है। संस्थान ने योग के बारे में पुस्तकें भी प्रकाशित की हैं और इनका अनेक भाषाओं में अनुवाद हो चुका है। दुनियाभर में आयंगार योग के हजारों अध्यापक योग को लोकप्रिय बना रहे हैं।

(http://pib.nic.in)

Corporate Social Responsibility suggested to promote child welfare

Child focused corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an investment of the corporates and PSUs toward sustainable development and welfare of children, a NCPCR member said today
Child focused corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an investment of the corporates and PSUs toward sustainable development and welfare of children, a NCPCR member said today. “Child focused CSR is an investment for sustainable development including the health and welfare of children,” National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) member Priyank Kanoongo told reporters here. A day-long multi-stakeholders regional convention of north eastern states focusing on CSR participation in strengthening child welfare, child education mechanism in the north eastern region will be organised tomorrow to chalk out a road map for companies to invest for child welfare in various states of the region.

The convention is being organised by NCPCR in partnership with the State Child Protection Society, Assam government’s Social Welfare Department and supported by CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM.”The convention will provide a platform to build understanding between the NGOs/civil society organisations working at the grass root level and welfare schemes of state governments, which can be leveraged through CSR activities,” Kanoongo said.
Leading PSUs and corporate houses, government departments like social welfare and education of eight NE states, NGOs/CSOs working in the field of child welfare, child well being and child education along with the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights of the eight NE states will also participate in the convention.
(Source: financialexpress.com)

Green Tribunal directed schools to submit install rainwater harvesting systems

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed private and government schools to submit an action plan on installing rainwater harvesting systems in their premises.

The schools have to submit their proposals in the NGT registry after serving a copy to the Delhi Jal Board. A bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim had given schools five days in its June 15 order.

“Each of the noticees (schools) is directed to file memo indicating the stage of the work in progress and further time required to complete the work,” the bench, also comprising expert member Ajay A Deshpande, said. The green panel said the schools need to take immediate steps to set up rainwater harvesting systems as the monsoon season is likely to start soon. The matter is listed hearing on July 17.

The tribunal had earlier directed schools to install rainwater harvesting systems in their premises within 10 days. In the event of failure, it had warned, each one would be saddled with a cost of Rs 20,000.

The NGT had earlier directed the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) and Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to inspect private and government schools here after a plea alleged that they had failed to install systems to harvest rainwater in their premises. The direction came during hearing of a plea of Mahesh Chandra Saxena, who claimed to be associated with an NGO working in the field of groundwater conservation. He has claimed that government departments, educational institutions and residential societies had either not installed rainwater harvesting systems, or had set them up but they were non-functional.

(Source: http://www.business-standard.com)

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