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Vedantic universalism, Indic civilisational renaissance & diversity

Swami Vivekananda’s note of caution serves to highlight his vision which is truly Bharatiya and civilisational because it encompasses every dharmic tradition/sampradaya within its ambit without an iota of condescension.

J. Sai Deepak

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Ever since I was a teenager, I have tried to understand Swami Vivekananda at various stages of my life through his writings and through those of others who have attempted to capture his majestic and impactful life. At every stage, his words and his life have moved me and conveyed a message which was relevant to a given phase or which answered questions that occurred to me then. This doesn’t mean I am remotely spiritual or that I have lived up to the values he preached and embodied; it only means that Swamiji’s profound and powerful thoughts are capable of moving even spiritually uninitiated and imperfect individuals.

Swamiji’s first-hand and acute diagnosis of what ails Bharat and the treatment it needs have always arrested me the most as a layperson. In fact, his teachings on Vedanta through his lectures on the subject reveal that Swamiji’s take on Vedanta could serve as a key foundational building block for an Indic Renaissance i.e. the rejuvenation of Bharat as a living civilization which still has a lot to offer to the world. I believe so because Swamiji’s Vedantic worldview exhorts us to put faith in ourselves first and to realise that all knowledge and divinity are within us and are merely waiting to manifest. This is precisely the treatment the doctor prescribed for the Indic civilization in its direst hour of self-doubt. Swamiji’s recognition that Vedanta is not merely an ideal but is firstly practical and must be practical, is what strengthens the case for its relevance to civilizational resurgence.

True to his broad nature and keeping with the spirit of Vedanta, Swamiji’s dissection of Advaita Vedanta, while appealing to the intellect thanks to his piercing logic, lays emphasis on acknowledgement of the oneness of spirit and the need to rest the very foundation of the concept of religion on universalism. However, the true genius of Swamiji lay in his unapologetic and unequivocal articulation of a critical layer of nuance which contemporary, urbanised and chic Vedantins conveniently seem to gloss over. In every lecture of his, Swamiji cautioned against the eviscerating and patronising use of Vedanta to submerge all other traditions as being less evolved and primitive which seems to be the fashionable trend these days among the elite.

Swamiji’s note of caution serves to highlight his vision which is truly Bharatiya and civilizational because it encompasses every Dharmic tradition/sampradaya within its ambit without an iota of condescension. His emphasis on inclusivity was not based on any cloying consideration or because it made for good diversity optics or widened the reach of his vision, but because of his clear realization that every tradition/sampradaya fulfilled the deepest spiritual and societal needs of that section of the society it catered to. Therefore, according to him, it was no one else’s business to sit in judgement over a sampradaya.

Instead of using the cliché that all religions or sects are the same, Swamiji believed that the validity and value of a sampradaya was to be assessed based on the needs of its followers which it fulfilled, and so long as it did that and retained its core message, its relevance would be self-evident. In other words, the day a sampradaya loses its core and its ability to fill the spiritual voids of its followers, it will organically cease to exist or merge with another school of thought without the need for any external stimulus. This is why Swamiji’s position on diversity is so practical and rooted in the Dharmic tradition that redundancy of a sampradaya need not and should not be induced until it becomes apparent and takes effect on its own.

In fact, the ideal situation, according to Swamiji, is when there are as many sampradayas as people so that every layer of nuance and every subtle individual need is addressed instead of requiring a seeker to compromise on his or her genuine needs in order to conform to a particular school of thought. The degree of maturity such a vision requires of the society is clearly mind-boggling, but the fact that the Dharmic worldview endorses and envisages such a vision speaks volumes of its commitment to a pluriversal approach and its unshakeable belief that humanity is capable of realising this vision. The Indic civilization is, in fact, a living testament to the practicality of the vision because it is a product of this very worldview that accommodates within its bosom perhaps the most diverse agglomeration of sampradayas and panths, which the world knows as Hinduism. Critically, the fact that Dharmic tradition places a premium on diversity for very practical and spiritual reasons, is an important lesson that must be understood by those that erroneously use Vedanta to question and undermine the legitimacy of sampradayic or denominational diversity and autonomy within the Dharmic fold.

Also, at the individual level, Swamiji minces no words in warning that a true seeker should not try to reduce an ideal to suit his or her convenience, and must instead aspire to elevate his reality to the ideal. Therefore, if one believes that a particular school of thought is best suited to one’s nature, then one must commit oneself to that school with dedication instead of diluting the core principles and expectations which form part of that school of thought. So, while a seeker can choose from an array of options presented by Dharma, once the choice is made, the goal must be to live up to it and not dumb it down. Importantly, the corollary is that the rules of one school of philosophy or spirituality must not be applied to another to avoid the rigours of the choice one has made.

This caveat assumes importance when understood in the backdrop of ongoing controversies such as the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple Entry case. The religious practices of that Temple and its restrictions have often been challenged in contemporary debates citing the practices of other Temples within the same tradition or outside of it, neither of which is warranted nor holds water. Every Temple must be understood in the light of its own object of consecration and worship because even within a given tradition, each institution that broadly falls within that tradition evolves its own individual expression which is consistent with its beliefs.

What most people do not realise is that it is this propensity of Bharat for spiritual innovation that the framers of the Constitution were aware of, which explains the language of Article 26 of the Constitution that recognizes the fundamental rights of “every religious denomination or any section thereof” to manage its own religious affairs subject to public order, morality and health. Therefore, even a single institution can constitute a denomination in itself under Article 26, which is perfectly consistent with Swamiji’s Vedantic take on spiritual diversity. Pertinently, Swamiji did not see any conflict between his love for his motherland and his commitment to Vedantic fraternity. His universalism was not the rootless kind which passes off as global citizenship today. He was as much a Bharatiya as he was of the world and if the latter required the abandonment of the former, Swamiji would have resisted it with his characteristic outspokenness.

One would have expected that with political independence, Bharat’s civilizational confidence would have only improved and strengthened with time. Surprisingly, or not, this is not the case; on the contrary, it has only waned and worsened with time. Consequently, today Bharat is at a precarious juncture, perhaps more than ever before, when the struggle for its soul and identity is playing itself out at every level and the churn in the society is visible. Not only does Bharat have external challenges, it also faces serious challenges from within its own civilizational weave because those who claim to be its most ardent proponents seek to recast it in an alien mould which could kill the very essence of Bharat. This is what reinforces the relevance of Swamiji and his teachings, for those whose hearts beat for this civilization as well as its message of universalism would do well to draw from Swamiji’s life and teachings and apply the lessons to their own lives and civilizational endeavours.

Finally, Swamiji’s interpretation of Vedanta is one that is full of energy and life. He was not the one to believe in a selfish, lifeless and inert pursuit of individual liberation. Action was his motto, ceaseless activity and boundless energy were his mantras, and the heart of the society was the field of his work. At a time when social media has elevated arm-chaired hand-wringing into an art, Swamiji’s clarion call to action is the only way forward for Bharatiyas if they are to pass the test of time and history.

J. Sai Deepak is an Advocate practising as an arguing counsel before the Supreme Court of India and the High Court of Delhi.

Swamiji’s first-hand and acute diagnosis of what ails Bharat and the treatment it needs have always arrested me the most as a layperson.

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Legally Speaking

MP HIGH COURT SEEKS DGP’S REPLY: DOES POLICE’S FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE FULL CRIMINAL ANTECEDENTS OF ACCUSED AMOUNTS TO MISCONDUCT, INTERFERENCE WITH JUSTICE?

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The Madhya Pradesh High Court in the case Kuldeep Dohare Versus the State of Madhya Pradesh observed, recently the Gwalior bench directed the Director General of Police, State of Madhya Pradesh to file an affidavit explaining as to whether non-communication of criminal antecedents of an Applicant or Accused to the Court is a minor misconduct or if it amounts to interference with the criminal justice dispensation system. Before the next date of hearing, the affidavit is to be filled.

The bench comprising of Justice G.S. Ahluwalia observed and remarked that the court was frequently finding that the police authorities were not sending the complete criminal antecedents, in spite of the circular issued by Police Headquarters.

It was observed that the police authorities did not send the criminal antecedents of the applicant. Furthermore, it is clear that it is a clear attempt to facilitate the applicant to obtain bail by projecting that he has no criminal antecedents. The issue raised is weather the conduct of police officers can be said to be a minor negligence or it is an interference with the criminal justice dispensation system?

In the present case, the court was dealing with a bail application moved by the accused applicant for offences punishable under section 307, Section 149, section 148, section 147, section 506, section 294, section 201. On an earlier hearing, the court had observed that even though the case diary did not reflect any criminal antecedents on the part of the Applicant. The impugned order passed by the lower court rejecting his bail application mentioned otherwise.

It was observed that a reply was sought by the court from the Superintendent of Police, District Bhind as to why the important information with regard to the criminal antecedents of the Applicant were withheld by the respective SHO. The SP informed the Court on the subsequent hearing that the SHO concerned as well as the Investigating Officer in the case were found guilty of misconduct and were fined with Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 5,000, respectively.

The Court observed that since the problem was stemming from different police stations. However, the DGP should file his reply regarding the prevailing situation-

Since in different police station, this situation is prevailing. Therefore, an affidavit is directed to be filled by the DGP, State of Madhya Pradesh as to whether non- communication of criminal antecedents of an applicant is a minor misconduct or it amounts to interfere with the criminal antecedents of justice dispensation system.

Accordingly, the affidavit needs to be filled within a period of 1 week, the matter would be heard next on 08.07.2022.

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HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH: SECTION 5 OF THE LIMITATION ACT APPLIES TO ARBITRATION REFERENCE UNDER NATIONAL HIGHWAY ACT, 1956

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The High Court of Madhya Pradesh in the case Ghanshyam Gupta v. State of Madhya Pradesh and Ors observed and stated that Section 5 of the Limitation Act would be applicable to reference to arbitration under the National Highways Act, 1956.

The Division Bench comprising of Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Purushiandra Kumar Kaurav observed and reiterated that since no limitation is provided under Section 3G (5) of the National Highways Act. The bench stated that the provisions of Article 137 of the Schedule to the Limitation Act, 1963 would apply to such proceedings.

Therefore, the court held that the limitation period for filing an appeal against the decision of the competent authority before the arbitrator from the date of expiry of 90 days is three years from the decision of the competent authority.

FACTS OF THE CASE:

The petitioner, Mr. Ghanshyam Gupta was the landowner of the land which was acquired by the Respondent, Madhya Pradesh Road Development Corporation. Thereafter, the competent authority determined the quantum of compensation payable to the petitioner and passed an award to that effect on 30.07.2015.

The petitioner being dissatisfied with the quantum of compensation determined by the competent authority. On 04.12.2019, an appeal was filled by the petitioner before the arbitrator. The appeal was dismissed by the arbitrator as time-barred filed after the expiry of three years limitation period.

the petitioner filed a writ petition before the High Court, Aggrieved by the decision of the arbitrator.

Contentions Raised by the Parties:

It is stated that Section 5 of the Limitation Act is applicable to arbitration reference under Section 3G (5) of the National Highways Act, 1956.

It was observed that the petitioner was unaware of the availability of the remedy of appeal against the decision of the competent authority, the petitioner only after consulting his lawyer, that the petitioner came to know that he could seek enhancement. Further, there is a valid ground to condone the delay.

The submissions of the petitioner were countered by the Respondent on the following grounds:

Though, in the absence of a period of limitation for filing an appeal under Section 3G (5) of the Act of 1956, it was construed that the provisions of Article 137 of the Limitation Act would stand applicable.

It was stated that Article 137 provides for 3 years period, and the petitioner filed the appeal after a delay of 4 years.

COURT ANALYSIS:

The court observed and stated that since no limitation is provided under Section 3G (5) of the National Highways Act, the provisions of Article 137 of the Schedule to the Limitation Act would apply to such proceedings.

Therefore, the court held that the limitation period for filing an appeal against the decision of the competent authority before the arbitrator from the date of expiry of 90 days is three years from the decision of the competent authority.

The court observed that there is nothing in the National Highways Act that excludes the applicability of Section 5 of the Limitation Act. However, Section 5 of the Limitation Act would be applicable to reference to arbitration under the National Highways Act, 1956 and the arbitrator has the power to condone the delay against the award, in filing an appeal by the competent authority.

The court noted that the petitioner was not aware that an appeal could be filed against the decision of the Competent Authority and it is only after consulting his lawyer that the petitioner came aware of any such right, therefore, there is sufficient reason to condone the delay.

Accordingly, the application was allowed by the court and the court directed the arbitrator to decide the case of the petitioner on merit.

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KERALA HIGH COURT APPOINTS AMICUS CURIAE IN SARITHA NAIR’S PLEA; IS A STATEMENT RECORDED U/S 164 CRPC A PUBLIC DOCUMENT?

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The Kerala High Court in the case Saritha S. Nair v. Union of India & Anr observed and appointed an amicus curia to assist the court to decide the legal question of whether a statement recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC is a public document.

The bench comprising of Justice Kauser Edappagath appointed the amicus curiae, in the petition filled by Saritha S. Nair, the prime accused in the infamous solar panel scam seeking a direction to provide her with copies of the Section 164 statement given by Swapna Suresh, the accused in the gold smuggling case.

The court appointed Advocate K.K. Dheerendrakrishnan, as the amicus curiae in the case.

In the present case, it was observed that Saritha Nair is accused of having duped several influential people to the tune of 70 lakhs, by offering to install solar power units for them or by making them business partners and by receiving advance payments for the same.

Moreover, Swapna Suresh is accused of smuggling 30 kilograms of gold through diplomatic cargo dispatched to UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram.

It was observed that when the petition came up for hearing, the counsel appearing for the petitioner, Advocate B.A Aloor appearing that the statement given by Swapna was a public document and therefore the petitioner was entitled to get a copy.

Further, Nair approached the Court apprehending that certain allegation may have been brought on record against her in the statement given by Suresh. It was prayed by Nair, that the c court allow her plea, directing the production of certified copies of the said document to her, failing which she would sustain an irreparable injury, the hardship and as well as physical and mental agony.

It was observed that the Nair had had initially moved the Principal District and Sessions Court of Ernakulam, with the same request, but this was denied. The court noted and adjourned the matter to July 11, while on a petition filed by the accuse, Saritha S. Nair in the solar scam cases, for seeking a directive to provide a copy of the statement given by Swapna Suresh, accused in the diplomatic gold smuggling case before a subordinate court.

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Supreme Court issues notice in an SLP; can section 156 (3) CRPC be invoked after failing to get desired relief in a civil suit?

It was observed that before the Calcutta High Court, it was contended by the accused that the allegations made in the application under Section 156(3) CrPC fails to make out any offence against them. Further, it was submitted that a frustrated unsuccessful litigant before the Civil Court has approached the Criminal Court and the Criminal Investigation.

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The Supreme Court in the case Usha Chakraborty vs State of West Bengal observed and issued a notice in a Special Leave Petition filled, raising an issue whether in a dispute essentially in a dispute of civil nature that can a person, after having failed to get the desired relief from a civil suit, invoke Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure?

In the present case, an FIR was registered against the accused under Sections 323, Section 384, Section 406, Section 423, Section 467, Section 468, Section 420 and Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 following an order passed by the Magistrate under Section 156(3) CrPC.

It was observed that before the Calcutta High Court, it was contended by the accused that the allegations made in the application under Section 156(3) CrPC fails to make out any offence against them. Further, it was submitted that a frustrated unsuccessful litigant before the Civil Court has approached the Criminal Court and the Criminal Investigation, which has commenced, is for the purposes of throttling them. The petition was dismissed by the High Court observing that the materials which have already been collected by the Investigating Agency, prima facie, make out a case for investigation. The issue raised before the court was weather the same would make out an offence after the investigation is concluded is absolutely at the end of the investigation to be analysed.

Therefore, challenging this order, one of the accused approached the Apex Court. However, It was submitted that the dispute is essentially of civil nature, for which the applicant in Section 156(3) CrPC petition filed a civil suit but having failed to get the desired relief, he invoked Section 156(3) CrPC.

The bench comprising of Justice Surya Kant and the Justice JB Pardiwala, while issuing notice also stayed further proceedings in FIR lodged against the accused.

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GAUHATI HIGH COURT QUASHES NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION AGAINST GRAM PANCHAYAT PRESIDENT CITING PARTICIPATION OF MEMBER DISQUALIFIED FOR HAVING THREE CHILDREN

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The Gauhati High Court in the case Jugitawali Pawe v State of Assam and 15 ors observed and quashed a resolution expressing no-confidence in the petitioner – the President of a Gram Panchayat, as a result of which she as removed from office. It was stated that it is as per the citing no compliance with Assam Panchayat Act, 1994, reading with Rule 62 of the Assam Panchayat (Constitution) Rules, 1995.

It was preferred by the petitioner to the materials available on record to argue that one of the members of the Gaon Panchayat, the respondent. The respondent voted against the petitioner and had given birth to her third child the previous year. Moreover, by virtue of Section 111(2)(a) of the Assam Panchayat Act, 1994, reading with Rule 62 of the Assam Panchayat (Constitution) Rules, 1995, the petitioner stood automatically disqualified on the date of voting. Following, which her vote was taken by passing No-confidence motion.

It was prayed by the petitioner in the plea for setting aside the impugned resolution and for issuance of a direction to restore his client back in the office. Thereafter, to initiate fresh proceedings, liberty should be granted to the respondent, following the due process.

It was agreed by the Counsel representing for the respondent that the said member of the panchayat had been disqualified but retained on the ground that the disqualification would have no bearing on the petitioner’s case, as the impugned resolution was passed before the declaration of petitioner disqualification.

In the present case, It was noticed by Justice Suman Shyam the member had voted against the petitioner and without her vote. The petitioner would not have been ousted from office. Justice Shyam also found no dispute about the fact that the member had incurred disqualification under the law prior the date of adoption of the impugned resolution. Justice Shyam found it unnecessary to delve into other aspects of the matter which includes the procedural formalities for declaring the member a disqualified candidate.

It is observed that the impugned resolution was declared to be vitiated and liable to be set aside. Further, the Court restored the petitioner to the office of the President of the Bongalmara Gaon Panchayat with immediate effect and it was stated by the court that the order will not stand in the way should the authorities or any member of the Gaon Panchayat propose a fresh motion of “no-confidence” against the petitioner and the due process of law needs to be followed.

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Halt DDA’s demolition action against jhuggis in Nizamuddin’s Gyaspur area, orders Delhi High Court

As per the JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015 and the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, the residents who can establish their residence prior to 01.01.2015 are eligible for rehabilitation under the JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015.

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plea in Delhi High Court seeking repatriation of 56 pregnant nurses

The Delhi High Court in the case Manoj Gupta & Ors. v. DDA & Ors observed and has ordered status quo on the Delhi Development Authority’s proposal to demolish jhuggi clusters in city’s Gyaspur area in Hazrat Nizamuddin. The vacation bench comprising of Justice Neena Bansal Krishna observed in the petition filled by the residents and the court granted an interim relief.

It was ordered by the court status quo till July 11, the next date of hearing.

The bench orally remarked that a ten-day delay in demolition won’t make a difference but if today it is demolished and later, we come to know that they were entitled, who’s going to… the bench will consider it on July 11, 2022 but in the Meanwhile, some protections are entitled them. Adding this, Status quo be maintained. If since 1995, they have been there, heavens won’t come down if for 10 more days they are protected.

In the plea the petitioner stated that the T-Huts settlement in the area, which was stated by the authorities to vacate. It has been in existence for almost two decades and compromise of 32 jhuggis or households.

In the plea it was alleged that the bulldozers have been parked around the camp and a DDA official has orally asked them to vacate the area and it is noted that till date no proper notice have been sent to them nor has DDA conducted any survey of the area.

Furthermore, the DDA did not provide any alternate arrangement for their rehabilitation which resulted in extreme distress among the residents.

Moreover, it was admitted by the petitioner that the land in question belongs to DDA and they may seek that status-quo to be maintained at the site. It was urged that the residents should not be physically dispose or evicted from the demolition site until the survey is conducted and rehabilitation is provided to the residents as per the DUSIB policy of 2015.

As per the JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015 and the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board. The residents who can establish their residence prior to 01.01.2015 are eligible for rehabilitation under the JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015.

It is observed that in the case Ajay Maken v. Union of India, Reliance is placed on the Supreme Court decision and the High Court decision in the case Sudama Singh & Ors. v. Government of Delhi & Anr, it was held in the case that that removal of jhuggis without ensuring relocation would amount of gross violation of Fundamental Rights under Article 21 of the Constitution. Further, it was held that the agencies conducting the demolitions ought to conduct survey before undertaking any demolition.

It is submitted that these observations would apply across the board, in the entire NCT of Delhi.

Advocates Vrinda Bhandari, Shiyaz Razaq, Kaoliangpou Kamei, Jepi Y Chisho and Paul Kumar Kalai, represented the petitioner.

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