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Policy & Politics

Close partnership between India and US is central to a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region: Piyush Goyal

Piyush Goyal addresses USIBC’s 46th Annual General Meeting and India Ideas Summit.

Tarun Nangia

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Piyush Goyal
Piyush Goyal

Piyush Goyal, Minister for Commerce & Industry and Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution today said that close partnership between India and the United States is central to a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. He wasaddressing the United States – India Business Council’s (USIBC) 46th Annual General Meeting and India Ideas Summit themed ‘From Recovery to Resurgence: reflecting the growing importance of global economic recovery amidst emerging healthcare issues and technological trends’.

Congratulating Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for completing 20 years of uninterrupted public service as the head of a duly elected democratic government, Shri Goyal lauded his untiring efforts that has accorded India a special status in the comity of nations.

Goyal said that the world now looks at India as a reliable and trusted partner and a driving force in the world economy. Appreciating USIBC for bringing in ‘Unity, Strength, Inclusion, Boldness & Commitment’ in India-US relationship, he lauded its efforts to act as a bridge to build strong India-US business ties for the last 46 years.

He said that India-U.S. relationship had developed to a global strategic partnership, based on our convergence on bilateral, regional and global issues and added that PM Modi and President Biden have been proactive in deepening our relations. Referring to PM Modi’s visit to US last month for Quad Leaders’ Summit, Shri Goyal said that the first in-person meeting of the two leaders was extremely fruitful.

Goyal said that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted that supply chains should not be based only on cost but also on trust. He added that India wanted to focus in areas where it has a Competitive advantage to become a bigger stakeholder in global value chains

Expressing concern over the increasing trust deficit in Post Covid world, Goyal called for a resilient India-US relationship. Observing that India is recognized as a major defence partner of US, Shri Goyal also called for multiple dialogues across areas of energy, health, trade and innovation to improve our business to business relationships and provide the people of both countries with better services and opportunities.

Goyal said that India is currently negotiating FTAs with like-minded nations like Australia, UAE, EU and UK and added that India has been focusing on strengthening 24 sectors where it has competitive and comparative edge. Speaking of a National Infrastructure Pipeline in the making, Shri Goyal said that India was working to boost investment, simplify its tax regime, liberalize its FDI policy and strive to encourage invention, innovation, research and development.

Emphasizing that the World now looked upon India for its openness, opportunities & growth, Goyal said that India is now the 3rd largest Startup ecosystem in the world. He added that under the leadership of PM Modi, India today is set on the path of ‘Aatmnirbhar Bharat’, a mantra which would make India even more open and empower it to work with the world nations from a position of strength.

Observing that India had leapfrogged from ‘Make in India’ to ‘Make in India for the world’, Shri Goyal said that India is strengthening its domestic Industry and will offer quality with cost-competitiveness. Shri Goyal said that from addressing a range of issues, from the pandemic to climate change, India-US partnership has a leadership role to play. “India and US need to leverage our complementary strengths in technology, finance, production and supply and enhance cooperation in Electronic manufacturing, Fintech, Ed-tech, pharma and health, biotechnology, etc”, he added.

Describing USA as a natural ally of India, Shri Goyal said that with a shared vision, the two nations can become true partners in progress and prosperity of their people.

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Policy & Politics

AI, HEALTH CARE AND LAW: PART 1

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International Law and Health Related International Standard Setting Instruments play an important role in evolution and development of International Health Law. Conventional International Law is the primary International Legal Instrument through which International Organisations can extend International Cooperation for improving the Global Health Status as also reducing the Global Burden of Diseases. In the recent times, there has been an increase in the Inter-Governmental Organisations in the domain of Health Care. Let us take the instance of the growing diversity of International Law relating to Public Health wherein a broad array of Inter-Governmental Organisations including United Nations and its agencies and other related bodies are contributing to the development of International Health Law. The International Health Law is therefore emerging in a fragmented and amorphous manner.

AI is having huge impact on Health Care and is transforming the Health Care Economy. AI has been defined as “the Development of Computers to engage Human Like thought processes such as Learning, Reasoning and Self-Correction”. While Machine Learning is a field of AI and in the context of Health Care has been put to varied uses ranging from classifying Health Care Data, to Diagnostic, Disease Predictions. Application of AI in Health Care can be broadly classified into:

• AI and Patient Care

• AI and Clinical Practice

• AI and Administration and Operations

• AI and Medical Research and Development

The International Health Law is a proliferation of multilateral organisations that often raise over lapping legal authority issues. However, International Health Law consolidates international standard setting instruments along with health-related legal rules, norms, and standards. The International Human Rights Law also plays an important role in International Health Law given the fact that right to health is also a significant human rights norm. While it can be argued that right to health features as a core parameter in the context of International Health Law since it emphasizes on the protection individual health care world-wide and strives for equity in health. The development of International Health Law in the context of AI also largely is an interplay of Privacy Laws, Cyber Laws, Cyber Security Laws, Civil Laws, Criminal Laws, Tort Laws, Medical & Health Laws.

AI primarily relies on data and data sets and makes use of the techniques like machine learning and natural language processing. AI is enabling better Health Care and Governance by analysing the Health Data in a precise and quick manner for a better detection, diagnosis, and treatment. AI driven technologies by way algorithms, facial recognition, chatbots bring forward various legal, regulatory, ethical and medico legal considerations when applied in the context of Health Care. The primary regulatory issue with regard to AI in Health Care is the archaic regulatory infrastructure.

Given the fact that AI is making use of machine learning techniques & the constant learning capabilities, AI algorithms keep evolving and by the time the regulatory approval is granted, the learning capacities of algorithms are increased making them entirely different.

Further, another aspect of AI is the black box, while we will be able to program an AI algorithm, but we do not have any clue how it works inside, this brings an issue of explicability and therefore making the regulatory challenges unique.

AI, HEALTH CARE AND LEGAL ASPECTS

• PRIVACY

Many AI systems collect, store, process transmit, huge amounts of data of which sensitive and personal data are an essential component. AI in the context of Health Care primarily handles a lot of personal data relating to the patients including electronic health & medical records, diagnostic reports, medical conditions, medical history, vitals related information, information relating to height, weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), psychological & human behaviour patterns. Various International, National, Federal, and state rules and common laws govern the collection, processing, handling, transmission of such personal data. While in the context protection of patient’s privacy assumes a lot of significance.

It is very interesting to understand if the outcome predicted by an AI algorithm consisting of any personal data of the patient amounts to privacy breach given the complexities of AI algorithms. Is the privacy of the patient protected adequately by AI algorithm is another question?

Further, in case of AI based Chatbots in the context of health care, the following privacy considerations are likely to arise. Is the chatbot authorised to collect personal data of patients? What is the legal status of the AI based Chatbots? Some limited amount of legal recognition shall be required to answer questions like this.

• INFORMED CONSENT

The AI Algorithms often make use of personal data of patients in the context of health care be it for analysis, predictions, counselling prescribing medicines and treatments, therapeutic sessions, and other areas. In the context of machine learning the clinical data of the patient is used for developing Algorithms for improvement of health care and for research and development activities. Initially the patients may provide informed and free consent with regard to collection, processing, sharing their sensitive and personal data specific for better diagnosis of their health and medical conditions. However, this becomes a challenge in case of large data sets. However, seeking Informed Consent shall be difficult in case of providing fine print terms and conditions in a manner not specifying about the future uses of the data. However, it may not be viable to seek Informed Consent at every stage where the Patients data is used given the kinds of complexity in which the AI Algorithms operate.

However, using the opt in and optout models may not be workable in the context of Al Algorithms as the AI Algorithms make use of machine learning and become more and more intelligent. It may not be possible to predict how and the manner in which the personal data possessed by the AI Algorithm is used. Informed Consent in the context of AI in health care becomes very important since the patient is required to be informed about the different options regarding his health and medical conditions and he is the decision maker with regard to the same. AI Algorithm must be designed in a manner to seek Informed Consent in a reasonable manner making the Patient aware of the different options and enabling them to choose thereof. There are however different kinds of approaches, different Jurisdictions, which have an emphasis on either patient or doctor’s role with regard to consent in a reasonable manner to determine the ground for baseline.

• DATA PROTECTION

One of the biggest limitations of AI in health care is involvement of machine learning and deep learning approaches which require huge amount of data sets for the purpose of analysing, testing, and predicting. These large sets of data definitely comprise of sensitive and personal data of patients including their health-related information, medical related information, personal information, and others. Removing all potentially identifiable- information from these data sets can be a herculean task. In this scenario, data protection assumes a greater significance. It may also be possible to identify individuals by linkage with other data sets even if the data sets are not including any medical images or medical related information or do not make use of any advanced or future technologies. Data sharing becomes another important aspect that requires legal considerations in the context of AI and health care. Data sharing involves sharing of sensitive and medical data which may increase the risk of data breaches.

However, having restrictive data sharing arrangements can reduce the widest possible patient benefit. It is advised that new regulations governing privacy must be created in the context of AI and health care to protect the sensitive and personal data of patients against inappropriate usage, accidental disclosures, and weakness in deidentification techniques. However, over protection of personal data may be detrimental to data driven technologies like AI. However, a balance needs to be struck between the adoptive technology and data protection.

• INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS (IPR)

AI Algorithms largely are largely associated with data and data sets. In the context of AI in health care AI Algorithms possess large chunks of data which are created which are a result of using analysis and correlation of human created works. In this kind of scenario lots of Intellectual Property is created out of such Algorithms. In addition to the above, the AI Algorithms making use of machine learning and deep learning techniques, analyse and predict new outcomes which also are capable of being considered as Intellectual Property.

The Ownership of Intellectual Property rights in respect to the data possessed by the AI Algorithms assumes significance. Considering the fact that the creators and developers become the first owners of intellectual property. In this context, copyright becomes an important element with regard to protection of such data and data sets

Another aspect of intellectual property in the context of AI in health care is the analysis and predictions and outcomes generated by AI Algorithms. Are the machines capable of protecting the Intellectual Property created out of its Algorithms? Can an AI system license its Intellectual Property? This question becomes significant in the context of AI in health care in case AI is leveraged by various stake holders in the health care industry.

Let us take an example, in case, a doctor engaged by a hospital makes use of AI for the purpose of analysing the medical and health condition of a patient who owns the Intellectual Property of the output generated by the Algorithm.

In case an AI Algorithm comes up with unique invention or discovery in the field of health care subject to its analysis using the data through machine learning and deep learning, can such inventions be capable forgetting Patent protection? This becomes important since AI in health care is leveraged for research and development and further analysis.

In case of any data or datasets possessed by AI and Algorithm are copyrighted material, the legal accountability for IP related infringements will also have to analysed.

The International Health Law is a proliferation of multilateral organisations that often raise overlapping legal authority issues. However, International Health Law consolidates international standard setting instruments along with health-related legal rules, norms, and standards. The International Human Rights Law also plays an important role in International Health Law given the fact that right to health is also a significant human rights norm. While it can be argued that right to health features as a core parameter in the context of International Health Law since it emphasizes on the protection individual health care world-wide and strives for equity in health.

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Policy & Politics

All Hindus living in Kashmir valley cannot claim benefits meant for Kashmiri pandits: J&K & Ladakh HC

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In a very significant development, the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has as recently as on September 14, 2021 in Rajeshwar Singh & Ors Vs Union of India & Ors in WP(C) No.245/2021 CM No.883/2021 has held that all Hindus residing in the Valley cannot be said to be a Kashmiri Pandit, thereby allowing them to await the benefits of the schemes meant exclusively for the Pandits. This is definitely a big setback for those Hindus who cannot be said to be a Kashmiri Pandit as has been laid down by the Court in this case. We shall dwell on it later.

To start with, the ball is set rolling in para 2 of this learned judgment wherein it is put forth that, “The case projected by the petitioners is that in the year 2009, Government of India issued Prime Minister’s Package for return and rehabilitation to Kashmiri migrants in Kashmir Valley. The PM’s package aforesaid was executed and implemented by the then State Government by promulgating SRO 412 dated 30.12.2009. Subsequently on the basis of a survey conducted with respect to plight of Kashmiri Hindus who stayed within Valley and did not migrate in the wake of law and order situation created due to onslaught of militancy in early 1990s. It was on the basis of aforesaid survey conducted with respect to the living conditions of non-migrant Hindu community of Kashmir, SRO 412 of 2009 was amended by SRO 425 of 2017 and the people belonging to Hindu community who had stayed back in the Valley and did not migrate in 1990, were also extended the benefits of special recruitment drive which was a part of PM’s package for Kashmiri migrants.”

While elaborating on the matter, the Bench then brings out in para 3 that, “It is contended that on 1st December, 2020, the respondents issued an advertisement for filling up 1997 posts while carrying recruitment drive in accordance with SRO 412 of 2009 as amended vide SRO 425 of 2017. The advertisement was also open for the persons who had not migrated. They were, however, required to produce bona fide certificates to be issued by the concerned Deputy Commissioners to certify that such candidates had not migrated and were, accordingly, not registered with the Commissioner (Relief). The Deputy Commissioners were also to certify that the candidates, seeking benefit of special recruitment drive carried pursuant to Prime Minister’s package, belonged to the community described as “Kashmiri Pandits”. The Deputy Commissioners, without any justification, chose not to grant such certificates in respect of a group of non-migrant Kashmiri Hindus, who according to them did not belong to the community of “Kashmiri Pandits”.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages in para 4 that, “Having been denied the bonafide certificates by the Deputy Commissioners, the petitioners filed the instant petition and sought, by way of interim measure, their participation in the selection process without submitting the bonafide certificates from the Deputy Commissioners. This Court vide order dated 1st of March, 2021, allowed the petitioners to participate in the selection process for the posts advertised by the respondents vide Advertisement Notice bearing No.03 of 2020 dated 1st of December, 2020. It is submitted that the selection process has been almost concluded and selection list framed. The respondents have, however, withheld the selection of the petitioners on the ground that they do not meet the requirement of production of “Kashmiri Pandit” certificate issued by the competent authority.”

While continuing in the same vein, the Bench then enunciates in para 5 that, “The petitioners claim the benefit of SRO 425 of 2017 on the ground that said SRO is an outcome of census carried by the Government of India with regard to the living conditions of Hindus in the Valley who despite adversity had opted not to migrate from the valley during turmoil in the year 1990 and, therefore, the benefit of Prime Minister’s Package cannot be restricted to only one community i.e. “Kashmiri Pandits” and ignoring other Hindu castes, communities and clans who have similarly suffered. All Hindus, it is submitted, who are residing in the Valley and have not migrated, constitute one class and their further classification on the basis of their identities is not permissible in law. There is an allegation made by the petitioners that even SRO 425 of 2017, as is understood by the respondents, is not being followed in letter and spirit, in that, the respondents have in many cases issued bonafide certificates of “Kashmiri Pandits” in favour of candidates who are similarly situated with the petitioners and carry the surname of “Singh”. This, in nutshell, is the factual matrix and the legal submissions made by the petitioners.”

Truth be told, the Bench then points out in para 6 that, “Respondent No.6 has opposed the writ petition and has in its objections submitted that various posts were created by Government of India under Prime Minister’s Special Package for Kashmiri migrants. These posts have been created on supernumerary basis across various departments and in terms of Rule 2 of the Jammu & Kashmir Migrants (Special Drive) Recruitment Rules, 2009, notified vide SRO 412 of 2009 dated 30.12.2009 read with amendments carried vide SRO 425 of 2017 dated 10.10.2017, following category of persons are entitled to apply against these posts:

i. A person who has migrated from Kashmir Valley after 1st of November, 1989 and is registered as such with the Relief Commissioner;

ii. A person who has migrated from Kashmir Valley after 1st of November, 1989, but has not been so registered with the Relief Commissioner on the ground of his being in service of Government in any moving officer or having left the Valley or any other part of the State in pursuit of occupation or vocation or otherwise and is possessed of immovable property at the place from where he has migrated but is unable to ordinarily reside there due to the disturbed conditions;

iii. An internally displaced person who has migrated within Valley from his original place of residence in Kashmir Valley for security reasons and is registered as such with the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner, Migrants;

iv. A person who belongs to the Kashmiri Pandit Family and has not migrated from Kashmir Valley after 1st of November 1989 and is presently residing in the Kashmir Valley.”

As it turned out, the Bench then brings out in para 7 that, “It is further submitted that category of persons mentioned at (i), (ii) and (iii) above, the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner for Migrants is the designated authority for authentication of migrant status of the applicants. It is his duty to ensure that the applicant is a bonafide migrant while as for the category of persons mentioned at (iv) above, the Deputy Commissioner concerned is the designated authority for authentication of status of the applicant as also to issue the bonafide certificate to the candidate to the effect that he/she belongs to a Kashmiri Pandit family and has not migrated from the Valley and that he/she is presently residing in the concerned district. There is, however, no separate quota within the quota available for any migrant or non-migrant community in respect of these posts. It is, thus, submitted that in the absence of challenge to the Recruitment Rules of 2009, as amended vide SRO 425 of 2017, by the petitioners, the full effect to the rules is required to be given. The petitioners who are neither migrants falling in category (i), (ii) and (iii) nor do they belong to Kashmiri Pandit family are not eligible to participate in the selection process. The Deputy Commissioners have rightly declined to grant them bonafide certificates in this regard.”

Of course, the Bench then brings out in para 8 that, “Another set of objections has been filed by respondent No.4 and 5 which are also on similar lines. It is, however, submitted by respondent No.4 and 5 that the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, vide communication No.12013/6/2014-K-V dated 04.12.2015, sanctioned additional 3000 Government jobs for Kashmiri migrants. The communication aforesaid provided as under:

“It has been decided that the Government of India would fund the additional 3000 State Government jobs, which were to be funded by the State Government in the Prime Minister’s Package-2008 for the return and rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Migrants. The Kashmiri Pandit families who did not leave the Kashmir Valley during the terrorist violence, that began in the State in the early 1990, and who are still residing in the Kashmir Valley, will also be eligible for these jobs and preferably formula of one job per family is to be adopted. The Government of India will bear the cost towards salary and other expenditure in respect of these 3000 jobs/posts for 10 years or till these posts are absorbed against regular posts in the State Government.””

Most significantly, the Bench then minces no words to put across in para 10 that, “Having heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the record, I am of the considered view that the issue primarily raised by the petitioners is no longer res integra. Similar issue has been considered by this Court in OWP No.2048/2017 titled Kashmiri Sikh Community and others v. State of J&K and others decided vide judgment dated 14.02.2019. The parity sought by the Sikhs residing in the Valley who had not migrated in the wake of 1990 turmoil, with the non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits for the purposes of implementation of Prime Minister’s Special Package of employment and rehabilitation has not been accepted by this Court and the classification made by SRO 425 of 2017 has been held to be valid, there is hardly any scope for the petitioners to raise the similar contention yet again. Paras 25 to 27 of the judgment dated14.02.2019 (supra) are quoted as under:

25. From careful reading of the Rules of 2009 and amendments carried thereto vide SRO impugned in this petition, it is abundantly clear that a class different form the migrants has been created for conferring the benefit of the Prime Minister’s Package for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Migrants. The class identified under the impugned SRO is a community of Kashmiri Pandits, who did not migrate in the wake of turmoil in the Valley and stayed back despite adverse conditions perceivably prevailing for their community. This classification has been necessitated pursuant to the several representations received for and on behalf of this community, which was living in a very pitiable and pathetic condition in the Valley. The Government of India also took note of the fact that these handful families had not migrated due to reasons of their poverty, economic conditions, a sense of security instilled in them by their supporting neighbourhood, etcetera, etcetera. They stayed back and braved the adverse conditions in the Valley, which seriously impacted growth of their families educationally and economically. Taking note of their plight and the persistent pitiable conditions, a policy decision was taken to confer the benefit of the Prime Minister’s Package of return and rehabilitation on this community as well. As noted above, this was not a hollow exercise by the Government of India. Not only it collected the relevant empirical data but also appointed a Standing Parliamentary Committee to go into all these aspects and make their recommendations. As is averred by the respondents in their affidavit that as per the records available with the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrant), Jammu, there are 15700 Hindu Relief families and 22062 Hindu Non-Relief families, consisting of 49859 souls and 82740 souls respectively. Besides there are 1336 Relief Sikh families and 353 Non-Relief Sikh families consisting of 5043 souls and 1502 souls respectively registered with the Relief Organization. In the light of the aforesaid data placed on record, the respondents have pleaded that the effect of migration in the wake of turmoil in the Valley was more on the Kashmiri Pandit community than other communities. It is though conceded that handful of Sikh families too migrated from the Valley but majority decided to stay back and has been residing peacefully. It is on the basis of this empirical data and the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee constituted for the purpose that the Government appears to have taken a policy decision to extend some helping hand to this distressed Kashmiri Pandit community.

26. From the aforesaid discussion and in view of the stand taken by the respondents, it cannot be said that the Sikh Community is similarly placed with the Kashmiri Pandits. There appears to be intelligible differentia, which distinguishes Kashmiri Pandits, who have stayed back in the Valley and did not migrate when lakhs of their community members left their home and hearth in view of the then prevailing security scenario in the Valley. The classification clearly distinguishes Kashmiri Pandit community from Sikh Community living in the Valley, which has been left out of group. This classification based on intelligible differentia has a definite nexus with the object sought to be achieved by the Rules of 2009 as amended vide impugned SRO, and is meant to ameliorate the lot of Kashmiri Pandits who preferred to stay back and did not flee despite unsavoury security conditions in the Valley in the year 1989-90. The target killings of members of their community instilled sense of fear and insecurity in their minds, which made their living in the Valley possible only at the cost of their lives. This sense of insecurity was all pervasive. In the milieu, there were certain families who decided not to migrate either because they were poverty ridden or did not have resources to move out or that they were assured by the community in their neighbourhood not to be afraid of. Whatever be the reasons, they decided to stay back but suffered due to unsavoury and not too good conditions in the Valley for the community. As per 137th report of the Standing Parliamentary Committee, their condition continued to worsen. They lacked behind in education and fared very bad on the economic front. Taking into account all these factors and the historical background responsible for en masse exodus of the community, the Central Government decided to provide some relief and succour to these families of Kashmiri Pandits. It is in this background that a policy decision was taken by the Government to treat these families of Kashmiri Pandits, staying in the Valley, at par with the migrants for the purposes of providing the employment package. This necessitated the amendment in the Rules of 2009, so as to include Kashmiri Pandits, staying in the Valley, also as beneficiary of the Prime Minister’s Package for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Migrants, issued from time to time.

Viewed thus, it cannot be said, by any stretch of imagination or reasoning, that the classification made by the impugned SRO is not based on intelligible differentia or that differentia has no nexus with the object sought to be achieved. If the object of the Rules of 2009 is return and rehabilitation of migrants, it would make no sense if the same does not provide for rehabilitation of those who have not fled from the Valley despite adverse conditions and have stayed back.

27. In view of the foregoing discussion, I find that the impugned SRO does not amount to class legislation but makes a valid classification which is permissible under Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution.”

What’s more, the Bench then hastens to add in para 11 that, “Faced with the aforesaid position, learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that having regard to the background which preceded the delivery of Prime Minister’s revised package of employment and rehabilitation, there is no escape from the conclusion that the benefit of employment is envisaged for those Hindus who are residing in the Valley and did not migrate during the year 1990. The term “Kashmiri Pandits” used in SRO 425 of 2017 is wide enough to include all non-migrant castes and communities of Hindus residing in the Valley and have similarly suffered as non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits, argues ld. Counsel for petitioners.”

Without mincing any words, the Bench then states quite upfront in para 12 that, “The argument raised is preposterous and cannot be accepted in the face of clear language of SRO 425 of 2017. It needs to be noticed that the petitioners have not challenged SRO 425 whereby the Rules of 2009 have been amended to provide the category of non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits for admitting them to the benefit of revised package of Prime Minister for employment and rehabilitation. In the absence of such challenge, the only question that remains to be determined in this petition is whether the petitioners, who are, admittedly, not Kashmiri Pandits but belong to different castes of Hindus, can be brought within the definition of “Kashmiri Pandits”.”

Simply put, the Bench then brings out in para 13 that, “It is vehemently contended by Mr. Altaf Mehraj, learned counsel for the petitioners, that in the absence of any definition of “Kashmiri Pandits” given in the SRO, all Hindus, who are staying in Kashmir Valley and did not migrate like non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits, should be treated as “Kashmiri Pandits”.”

Most remarkably, the Bench then minces no words to wax eloquently and sagaciously in para 14 that, “Despite great amount of persuasion by Mr. Altaf Mehraj, learned counsel for the petitioners, I regret my inability to accept such broad definition of “Kashmiri Pandits”. It is true that neither in SRO 425 nor in the Rules of 2009 as amended vide SRO 425 of 2017, the term “Kashmiri Pandit family” has been defined. What is, however, defined in Rule 2(ca) is the term “Kashmiri Pandit” which means a person belonging to “Kashmiri Pandit Family” who has not migrated from Kashmir Valley after 1st of November, 1989 and is presently residing in Kashmir Valley. In the absence of specific definition of the term “Kashmiri Pandit family”, the only way to find out the true meaning of the term is to apply the common parlance principle. There is no denying the fact that in common parlance, Kashmiri Pandit is a community of Kashmiri speaking Brahmins living in the Valley from generations and are distinctly identified by their dress, customs and traditions etc. etc. “Kashmiri Pandits”, is a separately identifiable community distinct from other Hindus residing in the Valley like Rajputs, Brahmins other than Kashmiri Pandits, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and many others. It is, thus, difficult to accept the contention of learned counsel for the petitioners that the petitioners, who are mostly Kshatriyas, Rajputs, Scheduled Caste non- Kashmiri Brahmins etc. etc. should be treated as Kashmiri Pandits and admitted to the benefits of Prime Minister’s revised package for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants given effect to by the Rules of 2009 read with SRO 425 of 2017.”

Finally, the Bench then holds in para 15 that, “For the foregoing reasons, I find no merit in the petition and the same is, accordingly, dismissed along with connected application.” In conclusion, Justice Sanjeev Kumar has quite lucidly dwelt on why he has ruled that, “All Hindus living in Kashmir Valley cannot claim benefits meant for Kashmiri Pandits. We have already discussed them threadbare as stated hereinabove! One cannot have any bona fide reason to disagree with what has been held so conclusively!

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Policy & Politics

Clarion call for universal brotherhood and peace

Renowned spiritual gurus make strong pitch at Lokmat National Inter-Religious Conference in Nagpur.

Vijay Darda

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Nature and god cherish diversity. That is why they gave mankind flowers of different fragrances and fruits of different tastes. Human beings should accept this diversity while following religion too. There is only religion and that is humanity. And the only difference is that of creed, sect and the way of worship. Therefore, only by respecting each other’s beliefs, holding hands and moving forward, will the future generations become free from the evil of religious violence. In these words, the world renowned spiritual gurus gave the clarion call for universal brotherhood and peace to the world from Nagpur on Sunday.

Speaking at the Lokmat National Inter-Religious Conference organised by the Lokmat Media on the topic ‘Global Challenges to Communal Harmony and Role of India’ to mark the golden jubilee year of Lokmat’s Nagpur edition at Kavivarya Suresh Bhat Auditorium in Nagpur on Sunday, the spiritual gurus expressed concern over the growing incidences of violence globally. They said India, which is the origin of four main religions and which has maintained harmony through diversity for thousands of years, is already a spiritual world leader on the path of tolerance and harmony.

While the Union surface transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari was the chief guest at this conference, the mayor Dayashankar Tiwari was the guest of honour. The founder of the Art of Living Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Patanjali Yogpeeth Swami Ramdev, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s Brahmaviharidas Swami, founder of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti, New Delhi, Acharya Dr Lokeshmuni, Archbishop of Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias, founder of Jeevanvidya Mission, Mumbai, Pralhad Wamanrao Pai, founder of Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, Leh, Ladakh, Bhikkhu Sanghasena and Gaddi Nashin of Dargah Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer, Haji Syed Salman Chishty expressed their views during the conference. The chairman of editorial board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha Vijay Darda, editor-in-chief of Lokmat Media Rajendra Darda, managing director of Lokmat Media Devendra Darda, joint managing director of Lokmat Media Rishi Darda, director (operations) of Lokmat Media Ashok Jain and group editor Vijay Baviskar were also present on the occasion.

The rule of nature never changes and it cannot change. It does not have any religion and therefore, action guides the reaction. Keeping this in mind, social harmony can be established. There is a need to create mutual acceptance for other religions as well. Moreover, universal brotherhood can be achieved by establishing communal harmony and unity through mutual coexistence as well as non-violence and peace, the Dharmacharyas said in one voice.

Vijay Darda in his introductory remarks explained the objective behind organising this conference. The editor of Lokmat Samachar Vikas Mishra conducted the proceedings while Rajendra Darda proposed a vote of thanks. On this occasion, the dignitaries released the Lokmat Media’s Diwali special issues ‘Deepotsav’ and ‘Deepbhav’.

CONGREGATION OF DHARMACHARYAS FROM COUNTRY, ABROAD

The Dharmacharyas of all religions spared time from their busy schedule to attend this conference. Brahmaviharidas Swami specially came from the United States of America for this conference. Swami Ramdev came from Haridwar despite his tight schedule. Sri Sri Ravishankar arrived from Bengaluru on Sunday morning. Dr Lokeshmuni came from New Delhi, Bhikkhu Sanghasena from Ladakh while Haji Syed Salman Chishty came from Ajmer. Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias and Pralhad Wamanrao Pai came from Mumbai. It may be noted here that for the first time after the coronavirus pandemic, so many Dharmacharyas came together and shared a platform at the conference organised by the Lokmat Media and the Nagpurians got an opportunity to witness the Congregation of Dharmacharyas.

IT’S IDEOLOGICAL KUMBH MELA, NOT CONFERENCE

The concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is our ancient culture and communal harmony can be established through the feeling of Sarvadharma Samabhav. The world will get a message of love, peace and brotherhood due to this, said the Dharmacharyas at this conference. Organised at the heart of the country, this conference is actually the ideological Kumbh Mela, and the message and appeal of communal harmony conveyed through it should reach every part of the world, opined all Dharmacharyas.

GREETINGS OF SARSANGHCHALAK

The sarsanghchalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Dr Mohan Bhagwat expressed his feelings through a video message. Dr Bhagwat said, “Religion is the connector. But if the human feeling is negative, people work to divide the society by abusing religion. This is because there is no interaction with each other. Therefore, we need to remind the community that we are one.”

DIVERSITY IS UNIQUENESS OF INDIA

The religion keeps people together. But some people plot to create hatred in the name of religion. But we should keep in mind that diversity has essence and god too is essence. Intellectuals become happy due to diversity and fools fight with each other. Diversity has to be accepted in human life. Sarvadharma Samabhav and diversity are unique qualities of India. It is the duty of the religion to solve various disputes and enmity.

– Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

WORLD HAS DANGER FROM RELIGIOUS, FINANCIAL AND POLITICAL TERRORISM

The world is facing biggest threat from religious, economic and political terrorism. The name should be Sarva Panth and not Sarva Dharma. Instead of saying that all will be Hindus, Muslims or Christians, we should say that all should be made human beings. The country works as per the Constitution while the society is based on spirituality. There is a need to take a stand that we all are united.

– Swami Ramdev

UNIFIED EFFORTS REQUIRED

Once upon a time, landing on the Moon or space travel were like dreams. But now they are reality now. Many feel that prevailing social harmony in the world is a dream. But it is my belief that this dream will be fulfilled. If the entire society makes collective efforts for spreading love, following rules and developing good life, the global social harmony can be established. Instead of expecting social harmony from the world, people have to start with themselves.

– Brahmaviharidas Swami

WORLD SHOULD BECOME NON-SECTARIAN, NOT SECULAR

Existence of others should be acknowledged as much as our own. Religion is humanity and we all are extensions of opinions. This country is not secular but non-sectarian. Today a positive feeling is required. This world is beautiful except for negativity. The chariot of messengers of peace here should go forward. The discussion on thoughts in this congregation of religious leaders should reach every part of the world. The lifestyle based on Ayurved, yoga-pranayam and restraint should be accepted once again.

– Acharya Dr Lokeshmuni

FOCUS ON SIMILARITIES, NOT CONTRADICTIONS, IN RELIGION

As the hatred is being spread in the name of religion, the world needs to create an attitude of acceptance of the existence of other religions along with mutual dialogue. The concept of god and some thoughts are different in every religion. But there are many similarities too. If we think with an open mind and brain, it will appear that we all have more of the same links than contradictions. Therefore, instead of paying attention towards contradictions, we should focus on the similarities.

– Cardinal Oswald Gracias

HUMANITY IS SOUL OF ALL RELIGIONS

Efforts to make each other happy and respect for each other’s feelings are worship to god. These are the values of human culture and these should be inculcated from childhood. Equality, civility, harmony, tolerance, gratitude and moral values are all values of life. These values will have to be inculcated and social harmony will be established. Humanity is very important in life and it is the soul of all religions.

– Pralhad Wamanrao Pai

VALUABLE ROLE OF INDIA FOR NON VIOLENCE, PEACE

Whatever is going on in the world is very disturbing and worrisome. Religious violence, war, aggression, hatred and prejudice have ravaged the world. In such a situation, the role of India is very important to make the world understand the importance of non-violence, peace and compassion. The time has come for us to be unified and find solutions to the problems of the world.

– Bhikkhu Sanghasena

‘DESTINY’ IS BASIC FOUNDATION OF ALL RELIGIONS

What feeling you are worshipping your god with is important. If any person offers namaz and commits any act which is a blot on humanity, his namaz is of no use. ‘Destiny’ is the basic foundation of all religions. Damage to the faith of any religion is the greatest crime.

– Haji Syed Salman Chishty

EVERYONE’S ‘RASHTRADHARMA’ IS SAME

Our clothes are different in colour. Similarly, the worship methods are different. The sects can be different. But, everyone has the same meaning. The ‘rashtradharma’ of all of us is one. This is the real strength of Indian culture. Our culture is not connected to any particular religion. Sarvadharma Samabhav is our philosophy. Respect for all is the way of life. Unity in diversity is the unique feature of our country.

– Nitin Gadkari

LOKMAT UPHELD IMPORTANCE OF SECULARISM

The Lokmat upheld the importance of secularism right from day one. It’s stand has been Sarvadharma Samabhav. No religion is bigger than humanity and we upheld these values. The Lokmat respected all religions and creeds. People have been living together since ages and ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is the culture of the country. The guidance of Dharmacharyas on social harmony is important in the backdrop of the fundamentals in the current situation that were created in the name of religion.

– Vijay Darda

PATH OF PEACE, GOODWILL CAN PROTECT WORLD

At a time when people are being murdered in the name of religion globally, the world is looking to India for a solution to this problem. India’s responsibility at the global level has increased as it has been following the ideas of non-violence preached by Lord Mahavir, Tathagat Buddha, Guru Gobind Singh and Mahatma Gandhi. Only the path of peace and harmony can save the world.

– Rajendra Darda

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Photo Caption

Union surface transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, mayor of Nagpur Dayashankar Tiwari, founder of the Art of Living Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Patanjali Yogpeeth Swami Ramdev, founder of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti Acharya Dr Lokeshmuni, Gaddi Nashin of Dargah Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer, Haji Syed Salman Chishty, founder of Jeevanvidya Mission, Mumbai, Pralhad Wamanrao Pai, Archbishop of Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias, founder of Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, Leh, Ladakh, Bhikkhu Sanghasena, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s Brahmaviharidas Swami, chairman of editorial board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha Vijay Darda, editor-in-chief of Lokmat Media Rajendra Darda, managing director of Lokmat Media Devendra Darda, joint managing director and editorial director of Lokmat Media Rishi Darda and group editor Vijay Baviskar holding their hands up together during the Lokmat National Inter-Religious Conference organised on the topic ‘Global Challenges to Communal Harmony and Role of India’ by the Lokmat Media at Kavivarya Suresh Bhat Auditorium in Nagpur on Sunday.

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Policy & Politics

Making it happen: Digital transformation in TNPFC

Anil Swarup

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Technology can transform governance and make life easy for the common man. The question is not about the availability of technology, it is about attitude of those that have to first appreciate its relevance and then to have the “courage” to use it. Chandra Kant Kamble, a young IAS officer did that in an organization that was archaic and conservative.

The Tamil Nadu Power Finance and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd., (TNPFC) was incorporated in 1991 as a wholly owned State Public Sector undertaking and registered as a Non-Banking Finance Company (Deposit). TNPFC started with capital of Rs 99 lakhs. The deposits grew to Rs 33,000 crores by 2019. The company mobilizes funds primarily through public deposits and has been funding Infrastructure projects undertaken by Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO). As on 31.03.2021, the company’s paid-up capital is Rs. 3767 Cr. TNPFC has been a profit-making company since its inception.

The total financial assistance provided to TANGEDCO for power generation and related projects by way of long-term and short-term loans is Rs. 1.56 lakh Crores. The net loan outstanding from TANGEDCO stood at Rs. 39,984.79 Cr on 31.3.21.

Fixed Deposit service offerings

Fixed deposits are mobilized from the public, Institutions, Government Departments and the State Government Schemes such as cash incentive scheme, Bread-winning scheme, Chief Minister’s Girl Child Protection Scheme, Oru Kala Pooja Scheme and Covid 19 Scheme. The average interest rate offered by the company is 150 basis points more than the rates provided by public sector banks. Steady growth of deposits was possible even during the pandemic, due to focused policies and an attractive interest rate on term deposits.

Legacy Challenges in TNPFC

When Chandra Kant took over as Managing Director of TNPFC in 2018 it had archaic database issues like data integrity, redundancy, partial data and data multiplicity. The company operated with less than 50 staff members and none of the branch operations had a digital channel such as a web portal or mobile application. TNPFC did not have the ability to collect payments online for the creation of new fixed deposits. Further, the company was unable to renew or close existing fixed deposits online. public depositors needed to visit the Chennai branch to receive the proceeds from closure of fixed deposits through a cheque instrument.

The regulatory directions on IT compliance and covid pandemic accelerated the pace of digital transformation at TNPFC, covering entire customer requirements fresh deposits, renewal, closure, nomination and other change request services

SOLUTION FRAMEWORK: INNOVATION, PROCESS CHANGE, TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION & CAPACITY BUILDING

Innovation

Online Web portal and mobile application based full fidelity deposit account creation for existing and new depositors, thereby offering deposit creation services 24 x 7 x 365 – a first for Government controlled NBFC.

Integration with Core Banking System to automate Cheque and Bank Statement reconciliation for both online and offline fixed deposit confirmation receipt generation.

Disbursement of Deposit Maturity proceeds directly via digital payment service integration across NEFT, RTGS, IMPS and UPI – providing real time business-hour payment services without cheque issuance and clearing delays.

CAPACITY BUILDING AND OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY

Established Customer Support Team for managing average daily queries of 300 emails, 200 IVR calls and 100 postal requests.

Journey from 7154 backlog emails, to responding on same day basis. Between April and July, TNPFC responded to 12,411 emails compared to pre-covid period of less than 20 emails per day.

Automated online BoT based verification process for PAN Card and Aadhaar verification process for KYC norms. Video Conferencing for Video KYC towards Customer Identity Confirmation process as per RBI Regulatory Compliance.

THE IMPACT

Digital Transformation of web portal and mobile application led to the mobilization of retail deposits of over Rs. 1080 Crores through online channels alone, during the period from April 2020 till May, 2021

Cloud Computing operations automation enabled TNPFC mobile deposits online 24×7 with integrated payment gateway services and instant deposit confirmation receipt generation.

Provided digital banking experience through Digital Channels (Web & Mobile) for depositor interactions and service requests processing, thereby eliminating the need for physical presence.

Timely disbursement of deposit funds for beneficiaries approved by Social Welfare and School Education departments / State Government. Fund disbursement of Rs. 1626 Cr in real-time to 8 lakh beneficiaries across 32 districts, through the launch of online payment services integration by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

Improved Treasury and Fund Flow management through the adoption of purpose- built Executive Workflow Management Application, thereby drastically transforming Fund Management towards transparent Cashflow pipeline visibility and approval process workflows for Government Securities Investments. Cloud deployment of GoI MEITY empaneled Cloud Service Data archival and retention towards regulatory compliance adherence. Adoption of Business Continuity Plan towards robust operational management of TNPFC ICT preparedness and operational support during the pandemic led workplace and workforce restrictions.

IMPACT ON DIGITAL INTERACTIONS

In the middle of Covid-19 pandemic, the TNPFC management focused on improving depositor user experience through digital adoption across NBFC operations using automation and integration to re-organize diverse systems. The emphasis was on advanced analytics driven customer support for digital channels (email, IVR, WhatsApp) and a 24×7 Online web portal & mobile App for common citizens to carry out deposit service requests from the comfort of their homes.

With digitalization of every function, TNPFC has shifted from generic demography of retired service personnel to a more “smart experience”, that provides a digital banking experience for all types of depositors, which is a refreshing change for a government run NFBC.

Financial performance

The CRAR (Capital adequacy) improved from 3.4% to 13.48%. For the first time, TNPFC started treasury operations, invested @1800 Cr in Gsec and T bills (earned @ 40 Cr) and used call options for Rs1000 cr bond repayment saving interest payment @ Rs 45 Cr. Profits that stood at Rs 83.20 Cr during 2018-19 rose to Rs 505.03 Cr during 2019-20 and further to Rs 723 Cr (unaudited) in 2020-21

Chandra Kant Kamble made it happen in an organization that had not looked at technology as a tool for improving its performance. He could make-it-happen on account of his foresight and his ability to convince the stakeholders about the whole idea and his team to deliver that idea.

Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Offic. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.

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Policy & Politics

INDIAN REAL ESTATE SECTOR ATTRACTS $1.8 BN PE FUNDS IN H1 FY22, Y-O-Y RISE OF 27%

Tarun Nangia

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TOP 10 DEALS IN H1 FY 2022

Displaying continued confidence on the Indian real estate sector, private equity funds pumped about USD 1,790 Mn into the sector in the first half of the FY2022, finds ANAROCK Capital’s latest Flux Market Monitor for Capital Flows in Indian Real Estate. This is a 27% growth over the corresponding period in FY 2021 when inflows were approx. USD 1,410 Mn.

“The average ticket size for the PE deals in the current period declined by 32% – from USD 114 Mn in H1 FY21 to USD 78 Mn in H1 FY22,” says Shobhit Agarwal, MD & CEO – ANAROCK Capital. “Notably, investors this time preferred single city deals in contrast to multi-city deals. As seen, the share of multi-city deals reduced from 77% to 42% in H1 FY 2022. Further, the top 10 deals in H1 FY22 contributed a approx. 81% of the total PE investments in the country.”

In comparison with H1 FY21, structured debt and equity witnessed considerable growth in H1 FY22, at 25% and 28% respectively. Structured debt went primarily towards project-level assets.

SEGMENT-WISE BREAKUP

Of the total private equity inflows of USD 1,790 Mn in the period:

• The commercial office sector once again attracted the bulk of investments – nearly 33% or approx. USD 591 Mn.

• The Industrial & Logistics sector saw significant investments of approx. USD 537 Mn in H1 FY22, comprising a 30% overall share.

• Residential sector saw investments to the tune of USD 394 Mn i.e., approx. 22% of the total PE funds.

• Data Centres, Land and Mixed-use developments attracted the remaining 15% of the overall PE inflows comprising 5% each

Data further revealed that while overall PE inflows in Indian real estate increased in H1 FY2022, the share of foreign funds reduced by 19% as compared to H1 FY21. Investments by domestic funds jumped from less than USD 10 Mn in H1 FY21 to USD 650 Mn in H1 FY22, a reflection of the improving situation in the country resulting in higher confidence by domestic funds.

OTHER NOTABLE TRENDS

With total PE investments seeing a close to 27% yearly jump in H1 FY2022, investor confidence in Indian real estate is seen to be increasing.

• Foreign investors continued to remain major contributors with a approx. 63% share of the total inflows of USD 1790 Mn. However, in the same period of FY2021, they contributed a 99% share. This indicates the growing confidence of domestic funds amid the growing economy despite the second COVID-19 wave.

• Investors have maintained their confidence in listed REITs. Post the dip in market capitalisation earlier this year, REITs have bounced back well.

• Demand for flexi offices is gaining momentum; they are expected to attract more PE investments over the next 1-2 years.

• Operators are aggressively looking at expansion of data centres across major locations in the country.

• Like seen in FY2021 trends, last-mile funding continues to gain momentum. SWAMIH Fund & various foreign funds are actively evaluating and executing various options.

• The residential sector is witnessing accelerated consumer demand amid growing preference for homeownership coupled with historically low home loan rates. Investors will seek various investment themes within this asset-class.

• Private equity investments were approx. USD 1.41 bn in corresponding period of FY21

• Commercial sector attracted highest investments (of 33%), followed by Industrial & Logistics (30%) & Residential (22%)

• Investors this time preferred single city deals in contrast to multi-city deals earlier; top 10 deals in H1 FY22 contributed nearly 81% of the total PE investments in the country

• Avg. ticket size for PE deals declined 32% – from USD 114 Mn in H1 FY21 to USD 78 Mn in H1 FY22

• While overall PE inflows in Indian RE increased, share of foreign funds reduced 19% in H1 FY22 compared to H1 FY21; investments by domestic funds jumped from less than USD 10 Mn in H1 FY21 to USD 650 Mn in H1 FY22, reflecting their confidence

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Policy & Politics

KARNATAKA HC DIRECTS STATE TO COMPLY WITH SC DIRECTIONS BARRING INSTALLATION OF STATUES ON PUBLIC ROADS, PAVEMENTS

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In a welcome, wonderful and wise judgment titled Akhila Bharata Kshatriya Mahasabha v. State of Karnataka in WP No. 49960/2017 delivered on September 7, 2021, the Karnataka High Court has directed the State Government to ensure compliance with the landmark, learned and laudable directions of the Supreme Court barring installation of statues or construction of any structure in public roads, pavements, sideways and other public utility places. This was the crying need of the hour also. Now the State Government in Karnataka is duty bound to comply with it.

To start with, this brief, brilliant and balanced judgment authored by the then Acting Chief Justice Of Karnataka High Court – Hon’ble Mr Satish Chandra Sharma for himself and Hon’ble Mr Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum sets the ball rolling first and foremost in para 2 wherein it is put forth that, “The facts of the case reveal that the 1st petitioner is an All India Trust and 2nd petitioner is the State level Trust, as stated in the petition, involved in the work of social economical upliftment of the people belonging to backward and downtrodden community. Their grievance is that inspite of the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 18.01.2013 in SLP.No.8519/2006 the bust of Sri.Shivarathri Rajendra Swamiji at the southern entrance of Mysore palce near Gun house is being installed and the State Government has granted permission for the same. The order of the State Government dated 3.3.2017 is on record and a prayer has been made for quashment of the order of the State Government (Annexure-E) as well as the order dated 28.8.2017 (Annexure-F) meaning thereby that the prayer has been made for quashment of the resolution passed by the Mysuru Mahanagara Palike as well as the State Government for installing the statue of Sri. Shivaratri Rajendra Mahaswamy at Gun house circle, which is on the main road. It has also been stated by the petitioners that a request was also made initially for installing the statue of Sri. Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar to the District Urban Development Cell and the same was rejected citing the judgment of the Apex Court and inspite of the judgment of the Apex Court, permission has been granted to install the statue of Sri. Shivarathri Rajendra Swamiji.”

 To put things in perspective, the Bench then points out in para 3 that, “The State Government has filed the statement of objections and the stand of the State Government is that the present petition has been filed with the vested interest, as the request of the petitioners was turned down for installing the statue of Sri. Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar and it is only after their request was turned down, they are raising hue and cry as the State Government has granted permission to install the statue of Sri. Shivarathri Rajendra Mahaswamy at Gun House circle. It has been stated that the Supreme Court in the case of Union of India .vs. State of Gujarath and others has directed not to grant any permission for installation of any statue or construction of any structure in public roads, pavements, sideways and other public utility places. However, the Gun House Circle is in existence since from the Maharaja’s period and there are several such circles in Mysuru City and several such statues are already in existence and therefore, Mysuru Mahanagara Palike has taken a decision to instal the statue of Sri. Shivaratri Rajendra Mahaswamy in the Gun House Circle as the circle is in existence since long time and it is not part of the public road nor does it fall within the definition of pavement, sideways and other public places.”

Quite rightly, the Bench then enunciates in para 8 that, “The undisputed facts of the case makes it very clear that the place where the statue in question is likely to be installed is certainly one of the most busy square near Mysuru palace near Gus House. The map has been filed by the State Government and the same reveals, as many as six roads are joining at the square and the circle is certainly the part of the road. It is really strange that the respondent-State Government has stated before this Court that it is not part of the road. Colour photographs have also been filed in the matter. The maps and all other documents clearly establish that the spot is in the center of the road and therefore, the issue is whether the statue can be installed at the center of the road on the circle which is in existence?”

Quite significantly, the Bench then hastens to recall in para 9 that, “The order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Special Leave to Appeal(Civil) No.8519/2006 dated 18.01.2013 on I.A.No.10/2012 reads as under:

1. We have heard Mr. Basavaprabhu S. Patil, learned senior counsel for the applicant and Mr. M.T. George, learned counsel for the State of Kerala.

2. Mr. M.T. George, leaned counsel for the State of Kerala placed before us a copy of the order dated September 7, 2011 passed by the Government of Kerala granting permission for installation of statue of late Shri. N. Sundaran Nadar, Ex-Deputy Speaker of Kerala Legislative Assembly near to Neyyattinkara-Poovar Road in the curve turning to the KSRTC Bus Stand Neyyattinkara in the Kanyakumari National Highway near bus stand.

3. We have our doubt whether such permission could have been granted by the State Government for installation of statue on the national highway.

4. Until further orders, we direct that the status-quo, as obtaining today, shall be maintained in all respects by all concerned with regard to the Triangle Island where statue of late Shri. N. Sundaran Nadar has been permitted to be sanctioned. We further direct that henceforth, State Government shall not grant any permission for installation of any statue or construction of any structure in public roads, pavements, sideways and other public street lights or construction relating to electrification, traffic, toll or for development and beautification of the streets, highways, roads etc. and relating to public utility and facilities.

5. The above order shall also apply to all other states and union territories. The concerned Chief Secretary/Administrator shall ensure compliance of the above order.””

Most significantly, the Bench then makes it clear in para 10 that, “The Hon’ble Supreme Court has categorically directed the State Governments not to grant any permission for installation of any statue or construction of any structure in public roads, pavements, sideways and other public utility places and therefore, on account of the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the question of permitting the State Government and the Mysure Mahanagara Palike to install the statue does not arise.”

Furthermore, what is equally significant is that the Bench then also makes it pretty clear in para 11 that, “In the considered opinion of this Court, neither the petitioners nor any one can install the statue on the island which is on the road (circle which is on the road) keeping in view the judgment delivered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.”   

Finally and as a corollary, the Bench then holds in para 12 that, “Resultantly, the writ petition is allowed. The impugned orders passed by the State Government dated 3.3.2017 and the order dated 28.8.2017 of the 2nd respondent-Mysuru Mahanagara Palike are hereby quashed. The State Government is also directed to ensure compliance of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the entire State of Karnataka.”

 In conclusion, it may well be said that the Karnataka High Court Bench comprising of the then Acting Chief Justice Hon’ble Mr Satish Chandra Sharma and Hon’ble Mr Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum have by this cogent, commendable, composed and convincing judgment left not even an iota of doubt of any kind that the State Government of Karnataka has just no option but to comply with the Supreme Court directions baring installations of statues on public roads and pavements. This is specifically elaborated upon most elegantly in para 9 and 10 which the State Government of Karnataka has to adhere to in totality. This will certainly well serve the public interest also which should always be paramount under all circumstances also!

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate

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