//Head-count: SC puts off hearing

Head-count: SC puts off hearing

DH News Service New Delhi:

Refusing to hear a PIL seeking immediate halt to the head-count of Muslims in the defence forces, the Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to hear the petition on March 6. There is no urgency to hear the matter, said a three-judge bench comprising Justice B N Aggarwal, Justice A K Mathur and Justice Dalveer Bhandari. The PIL said the head-count would sow seeds of communalism in secular institutions.

The petition filed by former deputy chief of army staff Lt Gen R S Kadyan termed the government’s move as “ill advised” and “divisive” and said it would cause colossal damage to the integrity, camaraderie, morale and professionalism of the forces in the long run.

The government started the head-count of Muslims on the advice of Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh which enquired the backwardness of Muslims in the country.

Seeking quashing of the committee’s directions to the government for a head-count, Lt Gen Kadyan said the court should seek records, including basis for issuance of directions for Muslims in armed forces.

Airports

Refusing to stay the equity transfer of agreements reached between the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and private parties for modernisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports, the Delhi High Court said such a transfer would be subject to the court’s final verdict on the tender dispute.

The high court did not grant stay as requested by the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Airport Developers which challenged the tendering process as arbitrary and non-transparent.

RPA amendments

Senior advocate Rajinder Sachar on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to strike down amendments to the Representation of the People’s Act (RPA) which abolished the domicile requirement for Rajya Sabha candidates and secret ballot system. Resuming arguments on a PIL filed by veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, Mr Sachar told a five-judge Constitution Bench that the amendments to the RPA are contrary to the constitutional scheme of things. Rajya Sabha is essentially a House of representatives from the states and allowing outsiders to contest RS elections is against the spirit of the Constitution. The bench comprising Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal, Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice C K Thakker, Justice S H Kapadia and Justice P K Balasubramanyan is hearing the PIL filed by Mr Nayar in April 2004.

Armed forces off survey

New Delhi, DHNS:

Facing strong criticism from different quarters, including the BJP-led Opposition, for including the Armed Forces in the survey on the number of minorities in different institutions, the government on Tuesday told Parliament that it was taking the Forces out of the head-count.

“My ministry has informed the high-level committee that the government wants to keep the Armed Forces out of the survey,” Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told Rajya Sabha. “The Armed Forces are professional, apolitical, secular and the most disciplined force the country has today… We would not like to include it in such a type of survey,” he said.

“We do not recruit on the basis of caste, religion, creed or region. We do not maintain data based on such classifications,” he said in reference to the Armed Forces while giving clarifications to members on his earlier statement on the appointment of the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee to study the social, economic and educational status of Muslim community. However, he emphasised that the study with relation to other government departments and ministries would continue. “The government would go ahead with the study to ascertain the status of Muslims, in other departments,” he said.

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