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PIL in Supreme Court seeks to hold political parties accountable for their manifestos

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Bhuvana Iyer – Mumbai Uncensored, 25th February 2022

A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking to hold political parties accountable to the essential rational promises made in their election manifestos and make them legally enforceable.

The PIL, filed by lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay through his advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey, also sought directions to the Election Commission to regulate functioning of registered and recognized political parties and to seize the symbol and derecognize/deregister parties that fail to fulfil their essential rational promises of their election manifesto.

The PIL sought direction from the Ministry of Law & Justice to take appropriate steps to regulate the functioning of registered and recognized political parties.

According to the PIL, on 15.12.2020, Justice Reva Khetrapal retired as Delhi Lokayukta but the Government did nothing to fill the post till date and hundreds of complaints relating to corruption are pending in the office.

The PIL states Delhi is governed by Aam Aadmi Party, which was formed after historic Anna Movement, seeking Lokpal at Centre, Lokayukta in State and Citizen Charter in every department but it did not amend Lokayukta Act in spirit of Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013 and is still using outdated ineffective 1995 Act.

The petitioner submitted that the fulcrum of democracy is the fair electoral process. If the integrity of the process is compromised, then the notion of representation becomes vacuous. Political parties are promising irrational freebies but not fulfilling essential promises. So, the danger to democracy and the Indian republic cannot be gained, the PIL says.

Therefore, the petitioner requested the Court to analyse whether political parties are really concerned about governance or do they cynically participate in the evisceration of the democratic electoral process.

The petitioner submitted that Centre and ECI have not taken steps to regulate the functioning of political parties and to regulate the manifesto. So, the Court is the only hope of citizens.

Injury to Citizens is Large because AAP promised Janlokpal Bill-Swaraj Bill in 2013, 2015 and 2020 election manifesto but did nothing to effectuate them. This is happening in all States because neither Centre has enacted a law to regulate the functioning of political parties and their election manifesto nor ECI made guidelines under Article 324. The petitioner submits that rather than taking effective steps to secure social economic political justice, liberty of thought expression, belief faith worship, equality of status-opportunity, and to promote fraternity assuring the dignity of individual and unity-national integration; political parties fulfil only freebies.

It is highlighted that political parties must not only mention the respective Articles of the Constitution while promising to enact a new law in their election manifesto but must also mention the timeline and deadline. Similarly, political parties must not only mention the steps to control corruption, crime, casteism, communalism, linguism, radicalism and fundamentalism but also mention essential steps to secure important fundamental rights – right to health, right to education, right to shelter, right to road access, right to water, right to food, right to dignity, right to employment, right to justice, right to legal aid, right to clean environment in election manifesto. But, Centre & ECI did nothing in this regard.

The PIL said that in Bhutan and Mexico, political parties are required to submit a copy of their manifesto to Election Commission before a primary round of National Assembly elections and manifestos are published only with the approval of the Commission, after thoroughly vetting and filtering out issues with the potential to undermine security and stability of the nation. In the United Kingdom and Netherland, legal provisions are applicable and offensive campaign materials are screened and taken out. This principle must be applied to India as well.

Culture

Qutub Minar Excavation Reports Denied By the Ministry

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Following the Gyanvapi Mosque survey reports said that the government had asked the Archaeological Survey of India to conduct excavations to ascertain the builder of the minaret.

Khushi Shah – Mumbai Uncensored, 23rd May 2022

Union Minister of Culture, GK Reddy has denied media reports that his ministry has asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct an excavation at the Qutub Minar complex to ascertain the facts behind its origin. “No such decision has been taken,” 

After the Gyanvapi Mosque survey, a controversy erupted over Delhi’s Qutub Minar. Some believe it was erected as a tower of victory to signify the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. Others say it served as a minaret to the muezzins to call the faithful to prayer. Dharamveer Sharma, the former Regional Director of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), recently claimed that Qutub Minar was actually Surya Stambh a “sun tower” 

Dharamveer Sharma is one of the most respected archaeologists in India. He has served as Superintending Archaeologist in the Delhi division of ASI three times. As per a report in Hindi daily Jagran, he had worked extensively on the conservation of Qutub Minar and went inside the Minaret multiple times. He said he had seen Devanagari writing in the inner parts of the minaret. Every year on June 21, he takes astronomers to the complex.

History states that the Qutub Minar was built in the beginning of the 13th century by Quṭb al-Din Aibak and completed by his successor, Iltutmish. He said it was erected by Emperor Vikramaditya, not the Mughals. He presented a 20-point fact sheet to prove his theory that Qutub Minar was an observatory.

The origins of Qutab Minar are shrouded in controversy. According to certain groups, Qutub Minar was earlier a site of Hindu and Jain temples. 

Two weeks ago, members of a right-wing group recited the Hanuman Chalisa outside the Qutub Minar complex and staged a protest demanding that the iconic monument be renamed ‘Vishnu Stambha’. 

International working president of United Hindu Front, Bhagwan Goyal, alleged that the Qutub Minar is the ‘Vishnu Stambha’, which was built by the “great king Vikramaditya”. “But later, Qutubuddin Aibak claimed credit for it. There were 27 temples in the complex and those were destroyed by Aibak. Proof of all this is available as people can find idols of Hindu gods kept in the Qutub Minar complex. Our demand is that Qutub Minar should be called as Vishnu Stambha,” Culture Secretary Govind Mohan had visited the monument on Saturday and had spent over two hours at the monument along with a team of senior officials and historians to discuss aspects related to the upkeep of the Qutub Minar complex

Recently, it was reported that last month a letter was written by the National Monument Authority to the ASI on moving two idols of the Hindu deity Ganesha out of the complex, “owing to their disrespectful placement”, and the idols were relocated to Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque.National Monuments Authority chief Tarun Vijay, who is also a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party and a former member of the Rajya Sabha, had said that the placement of the idols was disrespectful. “I visited the site several times and realised that the placement of the idols is disrespectful,” he said. “They come near the feet of the mosque visitors.”Delhi court had last month directed the ASI not to remove two idols of Lord Ganesha from the Qutub Minar complex till further directions. A plea was filed in a Delhi Court against the removal of the idols by advocate Hari Shankar Jain on behalf of Jain deity Tirthankar Lord Rishabh Dev claiming that 27 temples were partly demolished by Qutubdin Aibak, a general in the army of Mohamad Gauri, and Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque was raised inside the complex by reusing the material. The court had directed the Archaeological Survey of India to maintain a status quo till further hearing of the case. It is also an established fact that Quwwat-Ul-Islam Masjid was built atop existing temples but the property was not being used for any religious purposes and no prayers were being offered here.

The court had observed that wrongs may have been committed in the past, “but such wrongs cannot be the basis for disturbing peace of our present and future”

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Legal News

Mumbai Court gives orders to Rustom Ice Cream to vacate its premises

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Mumbai’s famous ice cream parlour told to vacate premise part of Brabourne Stadium

Khushi Shah – Mumbai Uncensored, 19th May 2022

Iconic Rustom ice cream parlour was recently ordered small causes court in Mumbai, to vacate its premises at the North Stand Building, part of the Brabourne Stadium, within two months. The decision resulted from a 26 year old suit filed in 1996 by the Cricket Club of India (CCI).

The story began in 1953 with K. Rustom and his family selling bars of ice-cream on beautiful glass and porcelain plates to tourists and families of Marine Drive, but several years and disappearing plates later, they came up with what they’re now best known for their ice-cream biscuits. K Rustom was the first tenant of the reclaimed land from Marine Drive to Churchgate. He bought the property at the rate of 1 Rs per square yard. At the small causes court, CCI had submitted that they were landlords of the said property under the Bombay Rent Act. 

The land, upon suggestion from Lord Brabourne, was decided to use the space for CCI.The CCI told the court that they “need” the space.It was submitted that the club requires the premises for its activities. It said that the list of the club’s members has gone up substantially in the last 14 years and it needs more space to meet the growing requirement of the members. It said that it wants to start a coffee shop at the suit premises for its members as the current one at CCI is insufficient.

However, it has fought till the end, ensuring that the 84-year-old shop doesn’t shut down.
After the latest development in the long-standing legal battle, the news has sparked talk of a shutdown of the ice cream shop, with some urging Mumbaikars to “go and eat your last ice cream at K Rustom”.

The property in dispute comprises 3,070 square feet and a mezzanine floor of 950 square feet. The family has said that they will be filing an appeal against the order. The CCI submitted that a substantial portion of the premises were not in use by Rustom. CCI claimed that it was being paid a monthly rent of Rs 527 per month, ‘far below the standard rent’. Rustom replied by calling it an “incredible” statement as it does not mention the payment of electricity and water charges. 

The owner also claims that they have been a tenant of the suit premises prior to the declaration of the Second World War “when premises were freely available” in Mumbai. Rustom also denied that a portion of the premises is not in use and said that both the ice-cream shop and a shop selling readymade clothes were working full time. It also said that it has no other premises to do business and will be out on the streets if asked to evict the premises.

After the latest development in the long-standing legal battle,, the Court of Small Causes directed Rustoms “to hand over quiet, vacant and peaceful possession” of its premises. 

“It is already held that the plaintiffs have proved that, the suit premises are reasonably and bonafide required by the plaintiffs for their personal use for club activities and no hardship will be caused to the defendants if the decree of ejectment is passed in favour of the plaintiffs therefore, they are entitled to recover quit, vacant and peaceful possession of the suit premises,” Judge Todkar ordered.

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Business

Govt. Plans to Cut Cooking Oil Tax

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The Indian market after seeing an unprecedented rise in the prices of edible oils plans to cut taxes on edible oil to keep the prices in check.

Khushi shah – Mumbai Uncensored, 5th May 2022

The war, combined with weather disruptions that limited harvests in other vegetable oil-producing regions, led to a supply shortage of sunflower oil. The ban by the world’s biggest palm oil producer and exporter on 28th April 2022, on the export on the widely used edible oil and all the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine that already upended the global agricultural trade in the world, sent oil prices skyrocketing in the market.

India is particularly sensitive to rising vegetable oil prices as it is dependent on imports for 60% of its needs. Inorder to keep the prices in check ,India, the world’s top importer of vegetable oils is planning to cut taxes on some edible oils to cool the domestic market after the war in Ukraine. 

India has tried to reduce prices in the past, including reducing import duties on palm, soybean oil and sunflower oil, and limiting inventory to prevent stocking the oil.[ In September 2021] The import taxes on palm oil had been slashed to 2.5% from 10 %, while soy oil and sunflower oil had been reduced to 2.5 per cent from 7.5 per cent. 

The reduction in these taxes were aimed at bringing down prices of the edible oils in India and boost consumption, effectively increasing overseas buying by the south Asian country.It would also bring down edible oil prices ahead of key festivals, when edible oil demand rises in the country

However, The moves so far have not been effective enough to cut down the rates of oil in the market 

India, the world’s top importer of vegetable oils, wants to reduce the agricultural infrastructure and development cess on imports of crude palm oil to below 5% . According to reports, it is said that the government is now considering reducing import duties on crude varieties of canola oil, olive oil, rice bran oil and palm kernel oil from 35% to 5% to help boost domestic supplies. The new tax amount is still being deliberated The cess is levied over and above basic tax rates on certain items, and is used to finance agriculture infrastructure projects. The base import duty on crude palm oil has already been scrapped.

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