True spirit of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 - The Daily Guardian
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True spirit of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012

The article aims to bring to the fore the true meaning and intent behind the legislation (POCSO) and to highlight how the interpretation and reasoning given by the Nagpur Bench of the High Court of Bombay stacks-up on a study of the provisions in question. One could argue that the enactment to ‘protect’ children might have been (mistakenly) interpreted in a manner that ends-up ‘protecting’ the offender—that clearly needs to be looked into. In fact, the Supreme Court has already stayed the judgement in Satish v. State of Maharashtra, after the Attorney General of India brought the said verdict to the notice of the apex court.

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‘The child is a soul with a being, a nature and capacities of its own, who must be helped to find them, to grow into their maturity, into fullness of physical and vital energy and the utmost breath, depth and height of its emotional, intellectual and spiritual being; otherwise, there cannot be a healthy growth of the nation. Now, obviously children need special protection because of their tender age and physique, mental immaturity and incapacity to look after themselves. That is why, there is a growing realisation in every part of the globe that children must be brought up in an atmosphere of love and affection and under the tender care and attention of parents so that they may be able to attain full emotional, intellectual and spiritual stability and maturity and acquire self-confidence and self-respect and a balanced view of life with full appreciation and realisation of the role which they have to play in the nation building process without which the nation cannot develop and attain real prosperity because a large segment of the society would then be left out of the developmental process.” – Lakshmi Kant Pandey v. Union of India, (1984) 2 SCC 244.

INTRODUCTION

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 came into force on 14th November, 2012. The intent of the Act is aptly summed-up in its preamble: –

“An Act to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and provide for establishment of Special Courts for trial of such offences and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Whereas clause (3) of article 15 of the Constitution, inter alia, empowers the State to make special provisions for children; and whereas, the Government of India has acceded on the 11th December, 1992 to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, which has prescribed a set of standards to be followed by all State parties in securing the best interests of the child; and whereas it is necessary for the proper development of the child that his or her right to privacy and confidentiality be protected and respected by every person by all means and through all stages of a judicial process involving the child; and whereas it is imperative that the law operates in a manner that the best interest and well-being of the child are regarded as being of paramount importance at every stage, to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child; and whereas the State parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child are required to undertake all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent— the inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity; the exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices; the exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials; and whereas sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children are heinous crimes and need to be effectively addressed.”

It is clear from the reading of the preamble that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) is a gender-neutral legislation which aims to protect children from offences that are sexual in nature. Recently, the Act has been at the centre of attention because of back-to-back judgments pronounced by the Nagpur Bench of the High Court of Bombay – Libnus v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 66 (Decided on January 15, 2021) and Satish v. State of Maharashtra, 2021, SCC OnLine Bom 72 (Decided on January 19, 2021). Both the judgments have been vehemently criticized because of their seemingly misplaced reading of the law.

The intent behind this Article is to bring to the fore the true meaning and intent behind the legislation (POCSO) and to highlight how the interpretation and reasoning given by the Nagpur Bench of the High Court of Bombay stacks-up on a study of the provisions in question. One could argue that the enactment to ‘protect’ children might have been (mistakenly) interpreted in a manner that ends-up ‘protecting’ the offender – that clearly needs to be looked-into. In fact, the Supreme Court has already stayed the judgment in Satish v. State of Maharashtra, after the Attorney General of India brought the judgment to the notice of the Apex Court.

LIBNUS V. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA, 2021 SCC ONLINE BOM 66 (DECIDED ON JANUARY 15, 2021)

Brief Facts – The informant (mother of the prosecutrix) lodged a report stating therein that on 11/02/2018, she had gone out and upon her return, she noticed the presence of the Accused in her house. She saw the Accused molesting her daughter, aged about five years. She further stated that when she left her house, her two daughters, aged around 3 and 5 years were alone in the house and her husband was out of station. She also stated that the moment she saw a person in her house holding hands of her elder daughter, she shouted, as a result of which her neighbours gathered there. Thereafter, the accused ran away. The informant testified that her daughter informed her that the Accused removed his penis from the pants and asked her to come to the bed for sleeping. The informant also noticed that the zip of the pant of the Accused was open. A case was registered against the Accused for the offences punishable under Sections 354-A (1) (i) and 448 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 8, 10 and 12 read with Section 9(m) and 11(i) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. After investigation, police filed the charge-sheet before the Special POCSO Court, Nagpur. The Special Court framed charge against the Accused for the offences punishable under Sections 354-A(1)(i) and 448 of the IPC and Sections 8, 10 and 12 read with Section 9(m) and 11(i) of the POCSO Act. The Trial Court found the Accused guilty and convicted him accordingly.

The High Court of Bombay quashed and set aside the conviction of the Accused for the offence punishable under Sections 8, 10, and 12 of the POCSO Act. The conviction of the Accused for the offence punishable under Sections 448 and 354-A(1)(i) of the IPC and his sentence was modified to the extent he had already undergone. The Court opined that the acts of holding the hands of the prosecutrix, or opened zip of the pant as has been allegedly witnessed by PW-1, does not fit in the definition of sexual assault.

It would be apposite to reproduce Sections 7, 8, 11, and 12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012: –

“7. Sexual assault. —Whoever, with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child or makes the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such person or any other person, or does any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration is said to commit sexual assault.

8. Punishment for sexual assault. —Whoever, commits sexual assault, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.

11. Sexual harassment. —A person is said to commit sexual harassment upon a child when such person with sexual intent, —

(i) utters any word or makes any sound, or makes any gesture or exhibits any object or part of body with the intention that such word or sound shall be heard, or such gesture or object or part of body shall be seen by the child; or

(ii) makes a child exhibit his body or any part of his body so as it is seen by such person or any other person; or

(iii) shows any object to a child in any form or media for pornographic purposes; or

(iv) repeatedly or constantly follows or watches or contacts a child either directly or through electronic, digital or any other means; or

(v) threatens to use, in any form of media, a real or fabricated depiction through electronic, film or digital or any other mode, of any part of the body of the child or the involvement of the child in a sexual act; or

(vi) entices a child for pornographic purposes or gives gratification therefor.

Explanation. —Any question which involves “sexual intent” shall be a question of fact.

12. Punishment for sexual harassment. —Whoever, commits sexual harassment upon a child shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.”

The High Court was reluctant to notice the wording of the latter part of Section 7 which states ‘any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact’ without penetration is also sexual assault. As it was alleged by the informant that the moment, she saw a person in her house holding hands of her elder daughter, the Court could have assumed physical contact based on the circumstances. It was another matter had the Court found the mother’s version untrustworthy and based the judgment on that. The High Court also failed to take note of the fact that Section 11 (1) was clearly made out as the very act of the Accused unzipping and taking-out his penis attracts S.11 (1) when the Court had not rejected the testimony at all. As the prosecutrix, being of age below twelve years, the conviction was rightly recorded by the Trial Court for the offence of aggravated sexual assault as per Section 9 (m) which states that whoever commits sexual assault on a child below twelve years is said to have committed aggravated sexual assault. In the absence of an observation where the Court found the testimony untrustworthy one wonders how the offences under POCSO are not made-out when the Accused made physical contact, took-out his penis and asked the child to sleep with him – all this after the Accused had entered the home of the child without anyone having invited him to. The facts, circumstances, and the actions of the Accused leave no scope of doubt as to his intentions and the offences are well made-out. It is surprising that the Court makes no mention of the testimony being untrustworthy and yet finds the Accused not guilty.

The High Court has narrowed down the scope of Section 7 and Section 11. Holding a child’s hand with the zip open, removing of penis from the pants, and asking the child to come to the bed for sleeping, clearly fall in the definitions of sexual assault and sexual harassment. If this does not make-out an offence under the POCSO Act (a legislation enacted to protect children from offences that are sexual in nature) – one wonders what will.

SATISH V. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA, 2021, SCC ONLINE BOM 72 (DECIDED ON JANUARY 19, 2021)

Brief Facts – On 14.12.2016, the informant (mother of the prosecutrix) lodged a report at police station Gittikhadan, Nagpur. It was alleged that the Accused lured (on the pretext of giving her a guava) the child (a 12-year-old girl) into his house and pressed her breast and attempted to remove her salwar. At that point of time, the informant reached the spot and rescued her daughter. Immediately, she lodged a First Information Report. On the basis of the said FIR, the crime came to be registered for offences punishable under Sections 309, 354, 363, and 342 of the IPC and under Section 8 of the POCSO Act. The Special Court found the Accused guilty of the crime registered against him except under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code and passed the judgment of conviction and sentenced him.

The Bombay High Court acquitted the Accused under Section 8 of the POCSO Act and convicted him under the minor offence i.e., u/s 354 of IPC sentencing him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year and to pay fine of Rs.500/- and, in default of fine to suffer rigorous imprisonment for one month. The Court held that the act of pressing of breast of the child, in the absence of any specific detail as to whether the top was removed or whether he inserted his hand inside top and pressed her breast, would not fall in the definition of sexual assault. The Court further observed that it is not the case of the prosecution that the Accused removed her top and pressed her breast. As such, there is no direct physical contact i.e., skin to skin with sexual intent without penetration. Here, the Bombay High Court has set a dangerous precedent and the same clearly goes against the scheme and intent of the Act, besides clearly being an incorrect understanding of the Section itself. It is definitely an extremely narrow view to take and lay down that ‘physical contact’ would not cover within its purview any inappropriate physical contact (like pressing of breast) made without removing the clothes of a Child. Further, keeping the misplaced definition and the extremely narrow view taken by the Court in interpreting ‘physical contact’ aside, the Court clearly seems to have missed the fact that had the Legislature intended to mean ‘physical contact’ to mean ‘physical contact without clothes’ – it would have mentioned so. It is not in the fitness of things and is definitely not right to read into a law, especially in a manner that goes completely against the intent of the Act. In Shiv Shakti Coop. Housing Society v. Swaraj Developers, (2003) 6 SCC 659, the Supreme Court observed:

“It is a well-settled principle in law that the court cannot read anything into a statutory provision which is plain and unambiguous. A statute is an edict of the legislature. The language employed in a statute is the determinative factor of legislative intent.”

The Court did not delve into Section 11 (1) either. Pressing the breasts, attempting to remove the salwar after luring the victim to his home, clearly fall within the ambit of Section 11 (1).

CONCLUSION

The principal objectives of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 are to ‘protect’ children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, pornography, to secure the best interests of the child, and to prevent the inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity, etc. The two judgments discussed above, unfortunately, do not uphold the objectives of the POCSO Act. Holding a child’s hand with the zip open, removing of penis from the pants, asking the child to come to the bed for sleeping, and pressing of breasts not by skin to skin, etc., are all ingredients of sexual assault but the Bombay High Court by not holding them to fall in the category of sexual assault has paved the way for the perpetrators of crime to use the two judgments as a shield for their crimes. The Supreme Court has already stepped in to prevent the abuse of law by staying one of the judgments and one can only hope that the Hon’ble Supreme Court clarifies the law and supplements the intent behind the enactment. The Supreme Court Collegium has also withdrawn its consent to make the Judge, who authored the two controversial judgments, a permanent judge of the Bombay High Court, for misreading the law, not once but twice. This might also throw open another question – How to best ensure quality of Judges that we deserve.

This is a High Court Judge that we are talking about, permanent or otherwise. The Supreme Court has found the Judge not fit to be made a permanent Judge of the High Court – not because of any other reason, but on the basis of the Judgments pronounced by the Judge in question. That is astounding and throws open a much wider debate.

The Accused opened his zip, took-out his penis, held the girl child’s hands and asked her to sleep with him while another lured a girl child into his house, attempted to remove her salwar, pressed her breasts before he was caught and he was not convicted under an Act meant to protect children against offences that are sexual in nature because it was not established that he pressed her breasts by putting his hands under her shirt – let that sink in.

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Policy & Politics

NCRTC SIGNS MOU WITH SECL FOR USING BLENDED RENEWABLE ENERGY FOR ITS DELHI-GHAZIABAD-MEERUT RRTS CORRIDOR

Tarun Nangia

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In line with its vision to improve the quality of life of people, National Capital Regional Transport Corporation (NCRTC) has signed MoU with SECI (Solar Energy Corporation of India) today to harness blended renewable energy for RRTS. MOU has provisions to explore possible opportunities in electric/ transformative mobility, Hydrogen based economy, and other alternative sources of fuels and energy.

MoU was signed in presence of Jatindra Nath Swain IAS, Secretary (Fisheries), GOI & CMD/SECI, Vinay Kumar Singh, Managing Director/NCRTC and Mahendra Kumar, Director(E&RS)/NCRTC alongwith other senior officials of NCRTC and SECI.

NCRTC, as part of its Energy Management Policy, intends to maximize the use of blended renewable energy such as solar power etc. for meeting full energy requirement of NCRTC. SECI, being an industry leader, will help in arranging blended renewable energy to NCRTC round the clock at affordable rates for Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Corridor and cooperation to extend the same for other future corridors.

Use of clean energy, through this association will ensure reduction in expenditure on electricity and significantly lesser CO2 emissions, which is essential for sustainable development.

This cooperation is a part of NCRTC’s long term strategy to make RRTS and NCRTC financially as well as environmentally sustainable.

NCRTC is adopting following measures also for energy efficiency in India’s first RRTS corridor-

1. All elevated RRTS stations and depots will be provided with solar panels.

2. NCRTC is targeting to generate minimum 10 MW renewable energy.

3. 40% of the total energy requirement of Delhi Meerut RRTS corridor is targeted to be procured/generated from renewable energy.

4. RRTS rolling stock will be provided with state-of-the-art regenerative braking system which converts train’s kinetic energy into electrical energy..

5. Regenerative braking will result in reduced wear and tear of wheels, brake pads and other associated moving brake-gear parts of rolling stock resulting in significantly less consumption of these spare part/items during train maintenance life cycle which again will result in substantial reduction in CO2 emission which otherwise would have been generated in the manufacturing and supply chain process of these spare parts/items.

6. RRTS trains will have push buttons for selective opening of doors on need basis. This eliminates the requirement of opening all doors at every station, thus leading to energy saving. RRTS rolling stock will have lighting and temperature control systems to enhance the passenger experience with less energy consumption.

7. All RRTS station and their premises, depot, office spaces and trains will be equipped with energy-saving LED lights.

8. Platform Screen Doors will be installed at every RRTS stations that will help in saving significant energy consumption in underground stations.

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Policy & Politics

TARGETED POLICY SUPPORT TO ENGINEERING EXPORT SECTOR NEEDED, SAYS EEPC INDIA

Tarun Nangia

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The growth in outbound shipments has been robust in the last few months and the outlook remains positive for the current year but rising cost of key raw materials especially steel is an area of concern, said EEPC India Chairman Mr Mahesh Desai.

As expected, the value of engineering goods exports jumped 53% to US$ 8.64 billion in May, 2021 as against US$ 5.65 billion in the corresponding month last year primarily due to low base effect and increasing demand from key markets.

“Soaring prices of various metals is a big challenge for the engineering goods manufacturers which were badly affected by the Coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdowns,” he said.

While hoping that the rates for the export promotion scheme RoDTEP would be announced shortly, the EEPC India Chairman expects the government to provide more targeted support as suggested by the RBI.

Announcing the decisions of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on June 4, RBI Governor Mr Shaktikanta Das had said that conducive external conditions were forming for a durable recovery beyond pre-pandemic levels. He further said that the need of the hour is for enhanced and targeted policy support for exports.

EEPC India Chairman said that while the export outlook has been projected to be positive in the current fiscal, there were downside risks too given that public health experts have predicted a possible third wave of the pandemic.

“The efforts must be made now to minimise the impact of pandemic on trade and business as protecting livelihood is no less important than lives. The plans should be in place to ensure goods movement, especially export consignments, are not affected by lockdowns, night curfews or any other restrictions imposed by states to prevent the spread of virus,” Mr Desai said.

Announcing the decisions of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on 4 June, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said that conducive external conditions were forming for a durable recovery beyond pre-pandemic levels.

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Policy & Politics

India’s exports continue to perform impressively for third month in a row

FIEO president reiterated that though the government has announced a slew of measures to support exports, the need of the hour is to soon notify the RoDTEP rates to remove uncertainty from the minds of the trade and industry, thereby helping in further forging new contracts with the foreigner buyers.

Tarun Nangia

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Responding to the trade data for May, 2021, Sharad Kumar Saraf, President, FIEO said that the continuing impressive growth in exports by about 70% to USD 32.27 billion compared to a low base of USD 19.05 billion during May 2020, reiterate our assessment that order booking position of our exporters is not only extremely good but also the gradual opening up of major global markets and improvement of situation in the country is expected to push exports growth further. President FIEO said that growing by over 8% even on the base of May 2019 reflects a positive trend for the sector. Saraf particularly emphasised that the growth in labour-intensive sectors like Cereal preparations and miscellaneous processed item, Gems & Jewellery, Engineering goods, Leather and Leather Products, Ceramic products and glassware, Cotton yarn/fabrics/made-ups, handloom products, Marine products, Spices, Carpets and Man-made yarn/fabrics/made-ups etc. augurs well for the job scenario, which is most relevant in the current context.

FIEO Chief added that such a growth during the month has been mainly on account of growth in Petroleum products, Engineering goods, Organic & Inorganic Chemicals and Gems & Jewellery, the major contributors to the country’s export basket, which have shown impressive performance compared to May, 2020. He also said that 25 out of 30 major product groups of exports have either shown a very high growth or are in positive territory defying all the odds when there is still a bit of scepticism persisting in the global economy on the expectation of a third wave of Covid-19 pandemic.

Sharad Kumar Saraf further reiterated that continuing on with such a growth performance in exports during the second month of the new financial year not only shows signs of resilience of the exporting community facing squeezing profits but also the resolve of the government. FIEO Chief complimented the government for its continuous support during such challenging times. Increase in May 2021 imports by about 74 percent to USD 38.55 billion compared to the same period during the previous fiscal led to the increase in trade deficit of USD 6.28 billion, which is an increase of over 99.61 percent during the month and should be looked into.

FIEO President reiterated that though the government has announced a slew of measures to support exports, the need of the hour is to soon notify the RoDTEP rates to remove uncertainty from the minds of the trade and industry thereby helping in further forging new contracts with the foreigner buyers. Mr Saraf also reiterated that the government must address some of the key issues including priority status to exports sector, extension of Interest Equalisation Scheme beyond June 2021 till at least 31st March, 2024, release of the necessary funds for MEIS and clarity on SEIS benefits, resolving risky exporters’ issues and continuance of seamless refund of IGST and more importantly continuing with IGST option for exports to further give boost to the sector during these challenging times.

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Policy & Politics

Making it happen: Covid management in Sonipat

Imaginative planning, meticulous execution and untiring efforts by young IAS officer Shyam Lal Poonia and his team have helped the district sail through the second wave.

Anil Swarup

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Corona

Like many regions of the country, the second wave of the Covid hit the district of Sonipat (adjoining Delhi) really hard with the positivity rate reaching a high of 54.71% on 25 April 2021. With the second wave came different sorts of challenges of which oxygen supply was most critical, given the non-existent perennial supply system for the hospitals including the 500-bedded Medical College at Khanpur Kalan. 

The challenge of medical oxygen was altogether new for Sonipat like many other districts in the country. This, coupled with close to 60% patients coming from Delhi, led to quick saturation of bed capacity in Covid hospitals of the district by 25 April 2021. Consequently, a dual challenge of increasing oxygen beds on one hand and managing oxygen demand within the available quota on the other was faced. As on 24th April, the district was receiving a daily quota of 9 MT liquid oxygen. To add to the worries, the agency responsible for supplying around 4 MT daily oxygen to Medical College had pulled out. As the state allocated oxygen quota was being determined elsewhere, the focus was on mobilization of resources and managing within this quota for which the following line of action was undertaken: 

PSA Plant: A 200 LPM capacity PSA plant approved under PM Cares Fund was lying idle since February as the Agency didn’t install it and district health team didn’t realise its importance. With the help of one Prof. Jogendra from Pacific College, Sonipat, PSA oxygen plant was commissioned at Civil Hospital Sonipat on 30th April. This helped increase the number of oxygen beds at Civil hospital.  

Oxygen Audit: Nodal officer was appointed for oxygen supply and officers were positioned at each of the bottling plants and hospitals. A multi-pronged approach was adopted to prevent wastage and siphoning off of medical oxygen at bottling plants and in hospitals.  A formula was put in placeabout average consumption on the basis of guidelines issued by MoFHW. Accordingly, average consumption in all hospitals was calculated. A committee was also constituted for oxygen consumption audit in all hospitals. Quota was now being allocated to hospitals based on their patient load. These steps helped save 2-3 MT of LMO per day.  This resulted in the increase of oxygen beds from 605 to 791 by 1st May. Moreover, the district quota was increased to 13 MT on 2nd May by the Government which helped further increasing the number of oxygen beds to 950 including 90 ventilators.

Augmenting Oxygen Storage: By end of April, 2021, the district had only one Bottling Plant with storage capacity of 20 MT which was catering to more than 25 hospitals. Through concerted efforts two more bottling plants licenses were facilitated for medical oxygen and a storage capacity of 50 MT was added within 15 days.

LMO Tank at BPS Government Medical College, Khanpur: With a daily oxygen demand of more than 450 D-Type cylinders, the Medical College was the major consumer for oxygen in the district. With every passing day and increase in patient load, it was becoming difficult to maintain regular supplies through cylinders. With the help of one of the Bottling Plants, an LMO storage tank with 12 MT capacity was installed within a week at BPSGMC. This gave a major boost to oxygen supply at the Medical College and the number of oxygen-supported beds increased from 150 to 350. This also resolved issues related to oxygen flow pressure and refilling and transportation of oxygen cylinders.

PSA Plant at BPSGMC: To further augment oxygen availability in the district and to tackle any unforeseen situation in days to come, a PSA oxygen generation plant under CSR has been installed at Govt Medical College, Khanpur with a capacity of 1000 LPM. Installation of one more PSA Plant with 1000 LPM capacity by DRDO is under progress.

At one point in time, the district had more than 7000 active cases and 90% of them were under home isolation spread across the geography of the district. To monitor them on a regular basis was a challenge given the inadequate manpower in the field. 

With the support from young MBBS/PG medical students from BPS Medical College, a motto  – Chase The Patient – was coined. Tele-consultation services were provided for all home isolated patients. 120 PG students of the Medical College were engaged to monitor all the home isolated patients of the district. The students were divided into 15 area-wise teams, each team connected with their respective Community Health Centre (CHCs) and Urban Health Centres (UHCs). 

A team of IMA doctors was roped in which constantly supported patients with their COVID treatment, psycho-social care and post COVID recovery issues. Timely tele-consultation meant that scores of patients were provided early medical care and prevented from being hospitalized.

Even as oxygen bed capacity was being increased across the district, it was observed that admission in COVID facilities was leading to disconnection of patients with their family members, due to restrictions. This was especially true for those not possessing smart phones. Covid treatment protocols couldn’t be violated. However, families were especially feeling anxious to talk to patients and know their health status. The District Administration accordingly initiated e-Samvaad wherein 6 tablets have been provided to Civil Hospital, Sonipat and BPS Govt Medical College to facilitate interaction of admitted patients with their family members. During a fixed time slot, the attendant/ family members can now interact with their patient on video call through WhatsApp/ Google Meet/ Zoom. The Nursing Staff dedicates themselves for this purpose in the given time slot. 

Given the exponential rise in cases across Sonipat, it was important to set up a central COVID Control Room to address all citizen queries and to manage the situation on-ground.  A team of 40 teachers and operators was trained to work round the clock in three shifts. Dedicated helpline catering to all citizen queries around vaccination, testing, bed availability, oxygen cylinders, movement passes and for lodging complaints against black marketing, overcharging, were made operational.

Imaginative planning, meticulous execution and untiring efforts by this young IAS officer, Shyam Lal Poonia and his team have helped the district sail through the second wave. Positivity rate is now below 2% and hospital bed occupancy is less than 20%. They made it happen amidst trying set of circumstances. 

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

Politics on Central Vista project unreasonable

A modern building equipped with the latest digital technology replacing the 90-year-old Parliament House is the need of the hour. Do you know that 12 ministries of the Central government are functioning from rented buildings and the government spends about Rs 1,000 crore annually to pay the rent? Around Rs 20,000 crore would have been paid towards rent only during the period I was in Parliament. This project is the need of the hour keeping the future in mind. If all the ministries are brought together, it will help them function even more proficiently.

Vijay Darda

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If we just keep trying to prove Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrong on everything, it will weaken the very existence of the Opposition. The voice of the Opposition will carry weight only if the opposition or protest will be constructive, and not just for the sake of it. Today some people are protesting about the Central Vista project, but they should understand that the first initiative was taken by the then Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar during the Congress-led government in 2012 to build a new Parliament building. The leaders of other parties including Atal Bihari Vajpayee had supported it.

Under the Central Vista project, the offices of the Vice President, the Prime Minister as well as all the 51 ministries will be housed under one roof. MPs will have offices. All the buildings will be connected to each other. This will benefit from the security point of view and help get rid of the problems people face during the VIP movement too.

The project will cost about Rs 20,000 crore and Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to complete most of the important work of this project before the end of his second term in 2024. The rest of the work will be done later.

A section of the society is questioning the need to spend such a huge amount on the project in the midst of this pandemic when the economy is badly hit. People are also questioning the purpose and benefits of this project.

Normally, this logic may sound right, but if you understand things with a deeper perspective, you will understand how important the completion of the Central Vista project is from the administrative point of view keeping in mind the future. I have been a part of the Parliament for 18 years so I have seen and understood the requirements closely. Many of these buildings are dilapidated. It is difficult to work sitting there. The legislative section of India sits in the Parliament House whereas the President, Vice President, Prime Minister and officials of 51 ministries sit at different places. Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House, North Block and South Block, and National Museum building were built in 1931. After that Nirman Bhawan, Shastri Bhawan, Udyog Bhawan, Rail Bhawan and Krishi Bhawan were constructed between 1956 and 1968. Today, 39 ministries are housed in different buildings in the Central Vista area while 12 ministries are occupying rented premises outside.

You will be surprised to know that their annual rent is about Rs 1,000 crore and their distance from the PMO and other ministries is quite long too. Obviously, the administrative work gets hampered. So, is it justified to spend such a huge amount on rent? Just calculate how much rent the government would have paid till now. Around Rs 20,000 crore must have been paid only during the period I was in Parliament.

Another important point is that when the buildings were built in Central Vista and its surrounding areas, there was no digitalization like it is today. Now along with the security of Parliament House and ministries, there is always a big question for the security of digital files. Building a new complex will ensure better security for both.

India is a rising power in the world today. Priorities are changing, so it is very important that the entire Central government should be accommodated in a cluster of buildings equipped with modern technology so that ministers can easily reach out to each other, meet and interact. If 51 ministries located in the buildings being rebuilt in the Central Vista project are near each other, it will definitely benefit from the administrative point of view.

We also have to keep in mind that our population is growing, so surely the number of MPs will have to be increased too in future. Keeping this in mind, the new building of Parliament House will be built on about 65,400 square metres of land and have a large Constitution Hall, a lounge for MPs, a library, offices of several committees, etc. The Lok Sabha chamber will have a seating capacity for 888 members and the Rajya Sabha chamber will have the same for 384 members. Along with this, there will be ample space for the National Museum, National Archives and Indira Gandhi Art Museum and our heritage will also be displayed in a dignified manner.

Those who are critical of this project say that an amount of Rs 20,000 crore should be spent on helping the poor and providing healthcare facilities during the pandemic. But the question is whether the government is executing this project by diverting the funds meant for the poor or the needy? Of course not. The government is not rolling back any welfare scheme meant for the poor. All schemes are running as before. I believe that the poor must be helped and every government has been doing this. The point is we have to plan for the future too.

If we look at the post-independence history, be it Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee or any other person who has been in power, everyone has worked on planning for the future and that is why India has occupied this prime position today. If Rajiv Gandhi would not have dreamt of a technology-rich India, had we been where we are today? We must worry about the present. Problems should also be solved, but we should also dream of a better future. The office of our Prime Minister should also be state-of-the-art, equipped and secure like the Parliament and Presidential buildings of America, Russia, Britain and other developed countries. That’s why I want to say that there should be no politics, at least in the case of the Central Vista project. There are several other subjects for politicking.

The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.

India is a rising power in the world today. Priorities are changing, so it is very important that the entire Central government should be accommodated in a cluster of buildings equipped with modern technology so that ministers can easily reach out to each other, meet and interact.

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Policy & Politics

DOES INDIA NEED POPULATION CONTROL LAW?

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The biggest problem in this country right now, which is not given any attention, either very narrow political thinking and cheap prejudice is slogans that is POPULATION. Currently the population of India is approximately 1.38 billions.second largest after china.

In 2015 India’s population was a whopping 1.31 billions, Productions shows in 2022 India will over take China to become world’s most populous country.Earlier predictions cited year 2028 for this to happen but India’s Population is growing so rapidly, that mark in 6 years advance.And it is not a matter of pride, over population leads to poverty, unemployment, climate change which pressure the natural resources, like- forest and land, leads to increase in social and religious conflicts, so overpopulation is regarded as the root cause of most of the problems in this part of the world.We are told time and again that India is the country with the youngest population, but the truth is that we have not done as much actively as we should about the population.

The condition has really worsened and is visible everywhere like- markets and public places,if you want to get an idea of the situation, just have an look in your locality

HIGH TIME TO IMPLEMENT THE LAW

At this time the country has come to a situation where there is a dire need of population control law, due to the increasing population day by day, ignoring the huge shortage of resources will prove to be our biggest mistake, because in a country like India without law and order It is impossible to remove any mismanagement of the population, so in view of the current population growth, it is very important to implement a population control law, and it should be such that the public can easily accept it, that is, the law should be made in such a way that the public understands their benefits. Come in and the public does not understand the collective loss in any way, earlier also the initiative was taken by the previous governments to control the population, but there were some such discrepancies in those rules due to which the governments failed.So now there is a need for a structure of such a law, due to which there can be a positive change and the country can move towards a development, due to the implementation of the law, there will be a huge hindrance in population growth and due to the general population rate, the supply of resources. It will also be completed smoothly and will help the country to be a developed country from a developing country.

National population policy:. Needs for planning of families would improve individuals health and welfare. Government of India initiated a comprehensive family planning programme (1952) . Family welfare Programme sought to promote responsible and planned parenthood on a voluntary basis.

Mainly focused on: Provides a policy framework for imparting free and compulsory school education upto 14 years of age, Reducing infant mortality rate below 30 per 1000 live births, Achieving universal immunisation of children against all vaccine preventable disease, Promoting delayed marriage for girls, Making family welfare a people centred programme.

SOME POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS WHICH CAN BE USED TO TACKLE THE PROBLEM OF OVERPOPULATION

China’s one child policy:- Whenever we are discussing solutions for overpopulation China’s one child policy comes first mostly in our mind, they think that Indian government too should follow china and implementation this policy to restrict the birth of more than one child but most of the people don’t know that China’s one child policy was a failure thirty years later in 2015 they ended this policy. This policy lead to a huge gender imbalance and increase in female foeticide. This happened because like India, China to is traditionally a patriarchal society. Where people prefer at least one male child over a female child. So when the government restricted the number of the child to one to go for female foeticide to have a male child not girl, this led to a huge gender imbalance which made china a world’s worst sex ratio country in 2014 .that was 22 male is to 100 females.

This huge gap in made female population led to some ill practice BRIDE PRICE in which brides were bought in return of money, in few cases brides use to runaway with the money within few days of the marriage, so one child policy led to all these problems. So we can conclude the one child policy is not a good solution to fight overpopulation in case of India.

INDIA’S FORCED STERILISATION:- Forced sterilisation too was suggested as a solution to counter over population this infact had already been tried in india.

During the emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1976 when her son Sanjay Gandhi lead a forceful sterilisation program, in which 10 million people were sterilised there were few of forceful sterilization people were compelled to go and get sterilised But surprisingly even after sterilisation 10 million people these was no evident of this on population growth no noticeable change was observed.

This shows forceful imposing of unplanned policies would not lead to a change and above all its very unethical to sterillise someone forcefully because reproduction is a very basic human right. No one should get to decide how many child a person can have its immoral and unethical.

So Forced sterilisation can’t be regarded as a solicitation in today’s world.

True solution to overpopulation :- So, it all melts down to this question that what can be the effective and realistic solutions against overpopulation. And answer of this is a little boring and it is the investment in education and health care and to understand this we must know,

WHAT FERTILITY RATE MEANS?

Fertility rate of a country is the average number of children a woman gives birth to in her life time, if fertility rate of a country is 2 that means every woman in that country gives birth to 2 child, which means the number of people dying are equal to the number of children born. This makes population stable, this is why 2 fertility rate is called REPLACEMENT fertility “theoratically” but in reality many children die during the birth itself so realistically the replacement fertility rate is taken as 2.2 and if any country’s population is near about this replacement fertility rate then in future it will remain stable so to end over population we must aim to maintain fertility rate of country close to 2.2 and why I am saying that education is the only solution to fight against literacy rate, both are surprisingly interdependent higher the literary rate lower the fertility rate this pattern is observed in many places of the world over as well as Indian states for instances Kerala the state with highest literacy rate in india nearly 100% literacy rate has a very low fertility rate as Madhya Pradesh, Rajsthan, Uttar Pradesh literacy rate very low and evidently the fertility rate is very high, infact very few states of India have fertility rates above 2.2 in whole India those are Rajsthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and because of these states India’s population is increasing because rest of all the other states have come down below this replacement fertility rate.

Population control Bill, 2019:- In July 2019, a bill introduced in the Rajya sabha by Rakesh Sinha. The bill is to control the population growth of India. According to world Population Prospect 2019 report by the United Nations , the population of India will overtake that of china within a decade. The introduced bill was signed by 125 MP and is yet to become an act of law.

•In 1976, population control and family planning were added to the third list of the Seventh Schedule under the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution. Under this, the central government and all the state governments were given the right to make laws for population control and family planning.

Conclusion:- Many myth about increasing population like- Hindu Growth Suppose there is a poor farmer and he is told that you have children and if you get yourself and your wife operated.like-Suppose there is a poor farmer and he is told that you have two childrens and if you get yourself and your wife operated.So you will be given such amount by the government.

So how many things are involved here- Awareness,and he believes that oppression will be successful, In this, they understand the economic benefits, as in many backward classes, there is an ideology that there will be as many earning hands as there are people, then something should be done for them like people who are below the poverty line, if they get an operation on a child. If so, then such amount will be given by the government and legal action will be taken if there are more than two children.

There should be a nationwide discussion on population control, obsessive ideas should be sidelined. The law should be such that it encourages the public to do so, not the law that is forced on the public.

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