Relief not applicable to benefits under Section 7 of Act
In a relief for citizens, the Supreme Court indefinitely extended the deadline for linking Aadhaar with mobile phones, tatkal passports and for opening bank accounts from March 31, 2018 till the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra pronounces its final verdict on the validity of the Aadhaar scheme.
Remarking that it has had enough of “piecemeal” notifications and legislations issued by the government to link one service or the other, Chief Justice Misra said it is time the court stepped in and stopped passing interim orders extending the deadline. There should be a sense of certainty that citizens would not be harmed or their services curtailed even as the very Aadhaar scheme is under the apex court’s microscope.
Linkage with PAN
On December 15 last year, the Bench had extended the Aadhaar linkage deadline from December 31, 2017 to March 31, 2018. It had however, even then concluded that the Aadhaar-PAN linkage was valid.
Tuesday’s order is more or less identical to the interim order passed on December 15 except for the fact that March 31, 2018 continues to be the deadline for linking Aadhaar to subsidies, benefits and services prescribed under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act of 2016.
‘Not all services’
Despite submissions made by senior advocate Shyam Divan and advocate Vipin Nair that the indefinite extension of the deadline should include all services, including those under Section 7, the court restricted its relaxation of the deadline to services outside Section 7.
The March 13 order itself does not dwell on why the extension was not made applicable to benefits under Section 7.
“On a query being made, Mr. K.K. Venugopal, learned Attorney General for India, submitted that this Court may think of extending the interim order. However, the benefits, subsidies and services covered under Section 7 of the The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 should remain undisturbed. We accept the same,” the court said, dismissing the notion of including Section 7 benefits too.
Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act says that the Centre and State governments can insist on Aadhaar “for the purpose of establishing identity of an individual as a condition for receipt of a subsidy, benefit or service for which the expenditure is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India.” To undergo authentication to access services under Section 7, an individual has to either produce his Aadhaar card or Aadhaar enrolment application.
Lawyers for the petitioners hint that the court may have excluded Section 7 benefits from the extension because it is statutorily protected by the Aadhaar Act itself, whereas the other linkings like mobile phones are based on other statutes or even executive notifications.
The fact that time is running out for linking Aadhaar and citizens should not be left in a state of uncertainty was highlighted by one of the judges, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, on the Aadhaar Constitution Bench itself. “We are dealing with the entire financial system… We cannot let this state of uncertainty prevail… We cannot tell them, like on March 27, whether the deadline is extended or not… A banker cannot be expected to seek compliance from customers within seven days,” Justice Chandrachud had said on March 7.
Incidents of chain snatching continue to take place despite attempts by the police to curb such crimes.
On Tuesday, M. Suganya (25), a resident of Chinnathadagam near Thudiyalur, was relieved of her six sovereign by a pedestrian near Rose Gaden at Pannimadai.
The incident happened when Suganya had stopped her two-wheeler on Vadamadurai-Thadagam road to pick her handbag when a pedestrian came close to her and snatched the chain.
In the second incident, five sovereign gold chain belonging to Amaravathy (59) of VOC Nagar near Ganapathy was snatched by motorcycle-borne men late on Tuesday.
The police said that the incident happened when the woman came to dump garbage in the bin. In another case reported on Wednesday, four sovereign chain of K. Kanagavalli (78) of of Gokulam Colony near P.N. Pudur was snatched when she was walking on a road.
Two killed in accident
Two persons were killed when the car in which they were travelling rammed a TNSTC bus near Pollachi on Wednesday. The victims were identified as Sabari Prakash (30) of Anupparpalayam and his friend Ramarajan (35) from Tirupur.
The Race Course police have registered a case against two women employees of a construction company on charges of duping of Rs. 3 lakh. The police said that Anitha and Hemalatha, employees of a company based at Tatabad were booked based on a complaint filed by an official of the firm.
He held a fake Indian passport
The Central Crime Branch sleuths attached to the Chennai police have arrested a 24-year-old man who illegally entered India and tried to fly to Dubai using a fake Indian passport.
According to the police, on February 25, Jagathullah, 24, was intercepted by Raj Narayan Singh, an official from the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) at the Chennai airport.
During interrogation, it was found that he was from Chittagong, Bangladesh, and was living in Mumbai posing as an Indian national. With the help of agents, he managed to obtain a driving licence, voter identity card, Aadhaar and PAN card. Subsequently, he also obtained the passport.
A complaint was lodged with the CCB, and Jagathullah was arrested.
Interrogation revealed that he crossed the Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal in 2013.
Prepare list of offenders to keep track of their movements; more check points to come up
With housebreakings and incidents of chain snatching rampant in the city, the Coimbatore City Police have got into a preventive mode.
The police have created a list of history-sheeters (either named accused or arrested) who were involved in the two crimes in Coimbatore city in the last five years. As per the list, 147 persons had involved in chain snatching cases in Coimbatore city in the last five years. The number of persons involved in housebreakings in the same period was 117.
“The police will closely monitor the people in the two lists to prevent them from committing further crimes. Policemen will go to their houses and check their current status like profession, involvement in crime, etc.,” said P. Perumal Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime), Coimbatore city.
He said that the initiative was taken based on the direction of City Police Commissioner K. Periaiah, who was closely reviewing occurrence of crime in the city and taking remedial actions.
According to Mr. Perumal, “Section 110 of Code of Criminal Procedure (Security for good behaviour from habitual offenders) can be invoked on such history-sheeters and make them execute bonds if necessary,” Violating the bond can lead to their arrest, he said.
Internal check points
In another preventive measure, the police will set up 20 internal checkpoints at various locations within the city. There are already 15 such check points on the city’s periphery.
In a majority of the chain snatching cases, the accused were found using two-wheelers bearing fake registration numbers. Such practices will be detected at the internal checkpoints.
As per the assessment done by the city police, major share of chain snatching incidents were reported in Coimbatore east and south where offenders had said there were many ‘escape routes’.
‘Ban on mobile phones to be implemented in two weeks’
The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed Madurai Corporation to find out all those who had constructed buildings around the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple in violation of the height restrictions, so that the court could include them as respondents to a public interest litigation petition.
A Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and R. Tharani also restrained the Corporation from granting approval for any new building to be constructed in violation of the height restrictions and directed it to keep a check on violations.
The order was passed on a public interest litigation petition related to the temple.
During a hearing, held through video-conferencing, on the case filed in the Madurai Bench of the High Court, the judges recorded the submission of the petitioner’s advocate that the Corporation officials had not acted against any person who had constructed buildings beyond the height of nine metres within a radius of one km from the temple.
When the Corporation counsel R. Murali refuted the allegation and challenged the advocates to provide the details of the violators, it irked Mr. Justice Kirubakaran so much so that he said: “If the officials cannot see the violations and if they are blind, let them resign and go. Petitioner can only bring the violations to their notice.”
Earlier, Special Government Pleader VR. Shanmuganathan told the court that the temple management had purchased about 1,000 vaults to store mobile phones of devotees and that a ban on carrying mobile phones inside the temple would be enforced within two weeks after making announcements through newspapers.
He also said two watchtowers were being established. Providing other details, he said 67 CCTV cameras and 143 fire extinguishers had been installed inside the temple.
Further, five baggage scanners had been provided to scan the bags carried by the devotees and 131 police personnel were deputed at a time at eight different spots on the temple campus.
After directing him to obtain instructions from the officials concerned on purchasing high-end fire fighting equipment, the judges adjourned further hearing on the case by two weeks.
Over 800 document writers abstain from work on Monday
Over 800 document writers in the district abstained from work on Monday and protested against the online system of registration made mandatory recently by the State Government.
Document registration almost came to a standstill across the district. Just one per cent of the documents that did not come through the writers were registered, claim sources, though this could not be confirmed officially.
At the sub-registrar office at the Collectorate alone registration of nearly 100 documents were affected on Monday because of the protest, claimed M. Maheshkumar, district secretary of Tamilnadu Document-Copy Writer Association.
He said the document writers want both, the online and offline options. With the mandatory online system, it takes about three days to prepare a document because the system is slow and the sub-registrar needs to approve it in another three days. This takes a lot of time for one document. So the number of documents registered a day has fallen sharply in the last one week. “By introducing the online system, the Government has sold the department to a private company,” he alleged. .
There are problems with the payment mode too. During the trial period, the receipt would be generated only if the payment is processed. Now, the receipt is available even if the payment status shows failure.
Karthik, a document writer at Ganapathy sub-registrar office, said he had made an online payment for Rs. 1,96,315 on February 15. The amount was debited and an acknowledgement was generated.
However, the system showed the status of payment as failure. The response at the call centre was not proper.
The property buyer and seller had to wait for two days for the issue to be settled. In the earlier system, payment would take less than half an hour.
The document writers said the strike will continue till the issues related to online registration are resolved.
Persistent demand for tapping neera drink from coconut trees by the farmers finally fetched the results. The State Government issued GO No. 41 on December 21 last year in this regard.
Following this, the district administration has issued licences for tapping neera from coconut trees, and packing and marketing through the Department of Agriculture Marketing to three Agriculture Producers Companies– Anamalai Coconut Farmers Producers Company, Vinayaka Farmers Producers Company and Coimbatore Coconut Farmers Producers Company in the presence of Deputy Commissioner of Excise Department M. Balachandar and Deputy Director of Agriculture Marketing M.R. Palanisamy, at the Collectorate on Thursday. Coconut is being cultivated at an area of 86,800 ha in the district.
Collector T.N. Hariharan issued applications for procuring licences to the companies and also received filled-in applications. The companies were also issued licences in the evening. Mr. Hariharan introduced the neera drink produced under the brand name Foothill Farmers by the Anamalai Coconut Farmers Producers Company at the function.
Speaking to reporters, M. Dhanapal, Director of the Anamalai Coconut Farmers Producers Company, told The Hindu that the company has commissioned a chilling and packaging unit for neera. The production capacity of the plant per day is 1000 litres. Initially, the neera drink would be packed in 200 ml disposable bottles and would be marketed at a rate of Rs. 35.
The initiative will improve the income of the farmers in addition to the income they are generating from coconut and other by-products.
On an average 2.5 litres of neera drink can be tapped from one coconut tree. Neera is different from toddy and palmyra drink (padaneer).
The neera drink will be tapped directly into a chiller box with below 4 degree Celsius. The temperature would be maintained till neera drink is packed and sold to the end users. Otherwise, it will get fermented and turn into toddy.
A farmers would get an income of Rs. 10,500 per tree per year in addition to the average income they are generating from coconut, tender coconut and other by-products from a healthy tree.
Mr. Palanisamy said that 40 farmers have been selected to undergo a technical training to tap neera from coconut tree at the National Horticulture Research Station at Kasaragod in Kerala from February 19 to 23. Once the regular production begins, value-added by-products from neera such as Neera Sugar, Neera Honey and Neera snacks could be produced and exported globally, he added.
Ahead of this, a meeting of the representatives from the seven Coconut Farmers Producers Companies was held at the Collectorate on February 2. Sale of neera products would be allowed in uzhavar santhais, Collectorate and other public places, the official said.
Says discrimination against convicts unfair and irrational
Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case life convict S. Nalini, 50, has approached the Madras High Court challenging the validity of Section 435(1)(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure which requires the State governments to hold consultations with the Centre before ordering premature release of life convicts whose cases had been investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
She has also urged the court to quash certain portions of a Government Order (G.O.) issued on February 1 this year for release of convicts who had completed 10 years of incarceration, in commemoration of former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran’s birth centenary, because those portions deny the benefit to those who fall under the purview of Section 435 of CrPC.
In an affidavit, filed through her counsel P. Pugalenthi, Nalini, who had been under incarceration for more than 26 years, claimed that it was unfair and irrational to differentiate between convicts whose cases had been investigated by the local police and those who were prosecuted by central agencies such as CBI when it came to considering their premature release.
“The object of premature release of life convicts is reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners. When life convicts are released prematurely on the basis of good conduct which could be assessed by the State governments, requiring the latter to consult the Centre, with respect to those whose offences were investigated by the CBI, would be irrational,” she said.
‘Norm not applicable’
It was also contended that the State governments may have to comply with the requirements under Section 435 of CrPC, only when they release convicts prematurely by exercising the powers conferred on them under Sections 432 and 433 of the code and not while framing a larger scheme for mass release of convicts under Article 161 of the Constitution.
Disclosing that she had filed a case in the Supreme Court too in 2014 challenging the constitutional validity of Section 435(1)(a), Nalini recalled that on July 25, 2014, a three judge Bench led by the then Chief Justice had ordered notice to the Centre returnable by four weeks. Subsequently, further time was granted to the Centre for filing a counter affidavit.
However, on October 27, 2014, the apex court passed a single line order stating: “We decline to entertain the writ petition.” Thus, the constitutional validity of the provision was not decided by the Supreme Court, the convict claimed and urged the High Court to go into the merits of the case and give a finding on the validity of the provision which discriminates between convicts.
Hindu outfits - Sakthi Sena Hindu Makkal Iyakkam and the Bharat Sena, Tamil Nadu - urged the authorities here on Monday to prevent young couples from celebrating Valentine’s Day (Wednesday) at public places.
Members of Sakthi Sena Hindu Makkal Iyakkam staged a demonstration in front of the Coimbatore (South) taluk office raising slogans against Valentine’s day celebration. District president of the outfit Kalidoss presided over the demonstration.
Similarly, a few members of Tamil Nadu unit of the Bharat Sena staged a demonstration in front of the Collectorate with the same demand. Later, the office-bearers of the outfit submitted a petition to the Collector.