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Thursday,29-September-2022

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BJP leaders in Bihar advocate for religious conversion law

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The BJP leaders in Bihar who have already announced their support to the caste-based surveys in the state are also stressing on the implementation of the religious conversion law in the country.

Union Minister and firebrand Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Giriraj Singh said: “The religious conversion law is necessary and should come into existence in the country.”

Singh on Friday appeared in MP-MLA court in a case related to “Rail Roko” protest in 2014.

Also, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha also spoke on similar lines. He said that it is not only necessary but it is also mandatory in the country.

“When the UPA government was in power, six states had formed the religious conversion law. Why it could not be implemented in the entire country to prevent conversion?” Sinha said in Begusarai.

The statements of these two BJP leaders have come at a time amid rumours that some of the families in Bihar’s Saran district have opted for conversion procedures.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, however, already clarified on Wednesday that there is no truth into it.

“There is no truth into the talks of conversion in Bihar. The administration in all districts are on alert mode, and keeping a close tab on any unusual incidents,” Kumar said.

“There is no communal dispute in the state. Bihar is a peaceful state. People of every religion are united and busy in their own field of work,” he said.

Nitish Kumar is serving as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the fourth consecutive term. He runs the government with the support of the BJP.

Also, he has never allowed fringe elements to create communal tension in Bihar.

Maharashtra

MVA claims Eknath Shinde had gone shopping for a Congress alliance

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Making embarrassing revelations, the Congress and Shiv Sena have claimed that the present Chief Minister Eknath Shinde — backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party — had reportedly sought alliance with the Congress in 2014 and 2017, here on Thursday.

Senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, and Sena’s veteran ex-minister Chandrakant Khaire besides other leaders have made the sensational claims, sparking off a political row.

Speaking to mediapersons in Nanded, Chavan said that in 2017, ahead of the local body elections in the state, a delegation of Shiv Sena comprising Shinde — then a Minister in the BJP-led government of ex-CM Devendra Fadnavis — had met him in his office with a proposal to sever ties with the BJP.

However, Chavan said he would first consult his own party and Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar, and after that, he would raise the issue with the Congress central leadership, though nothing moved after that.

At the relevant time, the ties between the BJP-Sena – ruling the state jointly – were severely strained and they contested the subsequent elections separately, and Chavan was the state Congress President.

Interacting with mediapersons in Aurangabad, Khaire said that in 2014, Shinde along with a group of around 15 Sena MLAs had met Congress with a proposal to form a Sena-Congress-NCP government in the state, but later nothing emerged.

Senior Sena leader Vinayak Raut also endorsed Khaire and Chavan’s contentions saying Shinde wanted to “snap ties with the BJP” and ally with the Congress-NCP.

The MVA’s claims assumed importance against the backdrop of the Shinde Group’s repeated claims that they had rebelled against the Sena President and former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray ostensibly since he allied with the Congress-NCP after the 2019 elections and chucking the party’s Hindutva agenda.

The revolt by 40 Sena MLAs and others saw the collapse of the two-and-half-year old MVA government on June 29, with the BJP-backed Shinde taking charge as CM on June 30.

Reacting to the MVA’s contentions, BJP state president Chandrashekhar Bawankule attempted to turn the tables saying that if such a thing had indeed happened, then it must have been at the behest of Thackeray since Shinde was not party leader

Shinde Group’s Minister Gulabrao Patil declared the contentions as “nonsensical” and said he (Shinde) may have been compelled to attend such a meeting — if it had taken place – on the orders of his leader (Thackeray).

BJP Mumbai President Ashish Shelar issued a veiled warning that Chavan should stick to decorum in public life about certain things that should be kept under wraps, failing which “we could release Chavan’s video clip”, and other leaders raised issues of the Adarsh Society scam.

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National News

Rape to include marital rape for purpose of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act: SC

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The Supreme Court on Thursday said that all women, including the unmarried, are entitled to safe and legal abortion, and also the meaning of rape must be understood as including marital rape, solely for the purposes of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and any rules and regulations framed thereunder.

And, married women may also form part of the class of survivors of sexual assault or rape, it added.

A bench, headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, said it is not inconceivable that married women become pregnant as a result of their husbands having “raped” them and the nature of sexual violence and the contours of consent do not undergo a transformation when one decides to marry.

“The institution of marriage does not influence the answer to the question of whether a woman has consented to sexual relations. If the woman is in an abusive relationship, she may face great difficulty in accessing medical resources or consulting doctors,” it added.

The bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and J.B. Pardiwala, said the state has a positive obligation under Article 21 of the Constitution to protect the right to health, and particularly reproductive health of individuals.

“Married women may also form part of the class of survivors of sexual assault or rapea… A woman may become pregnant as a result of non-consensual sexual intercourse performed upon her by her husband. We would be remiss in not recognising that intimate partner violence is a reality and can take the form of rape,” said Justice Chandrachud, who authored the judgment on behalf of the bench.

It added that the misconception that strangers are exclusively or almost exclusively responsible for sex- and gender-based violence is a deeply regrettable one.

The bench said that there is no requirement that an FIR must be registered or the allegation of rape must be proved in a court of law or some other forum before it can be considered true for the purposes of the MTP Act.

Emphasising that the right to dignity encapsulates the right of every individual to be treated as a self-governing entity having intrinsic value, it added that in the context of abortion, the right to dignity entails recognising the competence and authority of every woman to take reproductive decisions, including the decision to terminate the pregnancy.

“The right of every woman to make reproductive choices without undue interference from the state is central to the idea of human dignity. Deprivation of access to reproductive healthcare or emotional and physical wellbeing also injures the dignity of women,” it added.

Justice Chandrachud said if women with unwanted pregnancies are forced to carry their pregnancies to term, the state would be stripping them of the right to determine the immediate and long-term path their lives would take.

“Depriving women of autonomy not only over their bodies but also over their lives would be an affront to their dignity. The right to choose for oneself – be it as significant as choosing the course of one’s life or as mundane as one’s day-to-day activities – forms a part of the right to dignity,” he added, in the 75-page verdict.

The bench said the law should not decide the beneficiaries of a statute based on narrow patriarchal principles about what constitutes “permissible sex”, which create invidious classifications and excludes groups based on their personal circumstances.

“The rights of reproductive autonomy, dignity, and privacy under Article 21 give an unmarried woman the right of choice on whether or not to bear a child, on a similar footing of a married woman, “it added.

The object of Section 3(2)(b) of the MTP Act read with Rule 3B is to provide for abortions between 20 and 24 weeks, rendered unwanted due to a change in the material circumstances of women.

“In view of the object, there is no rationale for excluding unmarried or single women (who face a change in their material circumstances) from the ambit of Rule 3B. A narrow interpretation of Rule 3B, limited only to married women, would render the provision discriminatory towards unmarried women and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution,” said Justice Chandrachud.

The bench said importantly, it is the woman alone who has the right over her body and is the ultimate decisionmaker on the question of whether she wants to undergo an abortion. “In order to avail the benefit of Rule 3B(a), the woman need not necessarily seek recourse to formal legal proceedings to prove the factum of sexual assault, rape or incest,” said the bench.

On July 21, the top court had allowed a 25-year-old to abort her 24-week pregnancy arising out of a consensual relationship. In the judgment, the top court dealt with various aspects of the issue, including forced pregnancy. The woman had moved challenged the Delhi High Court, which refused to entertain her request to terminate her 24-week foetus, under Rule 3B, dealing with categories of women entitled to abortion, of the MTP Rules, 2003.

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Maharashtra

After ban, Maharashtra police to put curbs on PFI activities

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The Maharashtra police instructed all the commissionerates and district police to remove the hoardings and seal offices of the Popular Front of India (PFI) after the Centre banned the organisation on Wednesday. They have been told to monitor the members’ social media activities to prevent any instigation.
Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday welcomed the ban on the PFI for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Fadnavis, who also holds the portfolio of home ministry, has directed the Maharashtra director general of police (DGP) to place PFI members under surveillance and monitor their activities to prevent any untoward law and order situation.
Police have also been asked to monitor social media platforms and WhatsApp groups as a preventive measure in case PFI members share messages to garner support, and if there is an attempt to instigate a particular community.

They are to ensure that the PFI members are not sharing anything that portrays the outfit as the victim in an attempt to gain sympathy of the community.

Mumbai Police Department’s Special Branch, which keeps a tab on social media, has removed hundreds of posts supporting the PFI after the Central government announced the ban early Wednesday.

One such action involved a Powai resident, who is the general secretary and finance in-charge of the PFI in the city. Police sources said he posted comments on a social media platform that could have led to a law and order problem. The post was removed and he was taken into preventive custody, they added.

Sources said multiple offices of the PFI in Maharashtra have been sealed and their hoardings removed, including one in Nerul, Navi Mumbai.

The ban follows the pan-India raids by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) earlier this month. The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra has since arrested 22 PFI members and office-bearers from different locations, including Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Aurangabad and Malegaon.

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