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SC to reconsider ‘constitutional validity’ of criminalising homosexuality

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court will revisit its 2013 verdict that criminalised homosexuality in India. The court on Monday referred the subject to a larger bench.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India, on Monday said it would reconsider and examine the constitutional validity of section 377.

The apex court also issued notice to the Centre seeking response on a writ petition filed by five members of LGBT community, who say they live in fear of police because of their natural sexual preferences.

 

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said the issue arising out of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) required to be debated upon by a larger bench.

Section 377 of the IPC refers to ‘unnatural offences’ and says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.

The bench was hearing a fresh plea filed by one Navtej Singh Johar seeking to declare section 377 as unconstitutional to the extent that it provides prosecution of adults for indulging in consensual gay sex.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for Johar, said the penal provision was unconstitutional as it also provided prosecution and sentencing of consenting adults who are indulging in such sex.

“You can’t put in jail two adults who are involved in consenting unnatural sex,” Datar said and referred to a recent nine-judge bench judgement in the privacy matter to highlight the point that the right to choose a sexual partner was part of fundamental right.

He also referred to the 2009 Delhi High Court judgement delivered on a plea of NGO ‘Naz Foundation’ in which the provision was held unconstitutional.

Subsequently, the apex court in 2014 had set aside the high court judgement and termed the provision as constitutional.

After the dismissal of the review plea against the 2014 judgement, a curative plea was filed which was referred to a larger bench.

The fresh plea of Johar and others will now also be heard by the larger bench.


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Next war with indigenised weapons: Army chief

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New Delhi, Oct 15: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday said the Defence Research and Development Organisation has made strides in ensuring that requirement of the country’s defence services are met through home-grown solutions, adding that the next war will be fought and won through indigenised weapons systems and equipment.

Speaking at the 41st DRDO Directors Conference, Rawat said: “The DRDO has made strides in ensuring that requirements of the services are met through home-grown solutions. We are confident that we will fight and win the next war through indigenised weapons systems and equipment.”

With a network of 52 laboratories, the government agency DRDO is charged with the military’s research and development covering various fields like aeronautics, land combat engineering, armaments, electronics, missiles, and naval systems.

 

The Army chief said that the Defence industry of India is a budding industry and the time has now come to look at the development of systems for future warfare and start preparing for “non-contact warfare.”

Rawat asserted that along with artificial intelligence, the future lies in the development of cyber, space technology, laser, electronic warfare and robotics.

“We are looking at systems for future warfare. We have to start looking at development of cyber, space, laser, electronic and robotic technologies and artificial intelligence,” he said.

The Army chief said that if the timeline between the design development and production of any weapon system of equipment is to be reduced then it would be better to embed the service officers along with Research and Development.

Calling for joint research by Army officials and DRDO, he said: “In a joint project, the success and failures will become a joint responsibility and we will not start pointing fingers at each other.”

On the occasion, Rawat recalled APJ Abdul Kalam on his birth anniversary stating that the late President had set benchmarks and standards for the Defence Research and Development (R and D) community, which is a challenge for scientists who are now emerging.

“I am quite sure the scientists will live up to those expectations,” he said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval were also present at the event. (IANS)

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Major shift in govt’s way of handling ‘terrorism’: IAF chief on Balakot

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New Delhi: The strategic relevance of Balakot air strikes is the resolve of the political leadership to punish the perpetrators of terrorism, Air Chief RKS Bhadauria said on Tuesday.

In his Air Force Day message, the Air Chief said, “The strategic relevance of this (Balakot air strikes) is the resolve of the political leadership to punish the perpetrators of terrorism. There is a major shift in the government’s way of handling militant attacks.”

Stressing that the present security environment in the neighbourhood is a case of serious concern, the Air Chief said Pulwama attack is a stark reminder of the persistent threat to defence installations.

 

Earlier, the Chiefs of three services paid floral tributes at the national war memorial on the occasion of 87th Air Force Day.

“On February 26 this year, the IAF successfully struck camps located at Balakot. On the next day, the IAF successfully thwarted Pakistan Air Force’s attempts to attack our military establishments. In the aerial engagement that followed we shot down a PAF F-16 fighter aircraft and lost a MiG-21,” the IAF chief said in his remarks during Air Force Day press conference on October 4.

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RSS chief says lynching a ‘western construct’ being used to defame India

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Nagpur: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on Tuesday said lynching is a “western construct” and should not be used in the Indian context to defame the country.

Addressing the Vijayadashmi function of the RSS at Reshimbagh ground in Maharashtra’s Nagpur city, he said the word ‘lynching’ does not originate from Indian ethos but comes from a separate religious text, and such terms should not be imposed on Indians.

He also lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah over the government’s move to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, but said some vested interests do not want the country to be strong and vibrant.

 

Voicing his displeasure over several incidents of mob violence in the country, he said, “Lynching is not the word from Indian ethos, its origin is from a story in a separate religious text. We Indians trust in brotherhood. Don’t impose such terms on Indians.”

“Lynching itself is a western construct and one shouldn’t use it in the Indian context to defame the country,” he said.

Bhagwat urged citizens to create harmony, and that everyone should live within confines of law. “Swayamsevaks are brought up with that sanskar,” he said.

He said in the past few years, there has been transformation in “direction of thought process of Bharat”.

“There are many people in the world and in Bharat as well, who don’t want this. A developed Bharat creates fear in the minds of vested interests…such forces will also not want Bharat to be strong and vibrant,” the RSS chief said.

Even well-meaning policies, statements from persons in government and administration were being misused to benefit nefarious designs by vested interests, he rued.

“We must be alert in identifying these plots and counter them on intellectual and social levels,” he said.

Bhagwat said the world was eager to know if the 2019 elections in such a huge country will be conducted smoothly.

“Democracy in India is not something imported from any country, but a practice which has been prevalent here since centuries,” Bhagwat said.

He said India’s borders were now safer than ever, and more focus was needed on coastal security.

“The number of guards and check-posts on land borders and surveillance along the maritime border, especially on islands, have to be increased,” he said.

On concerns over the economic sector, he said the slowing down of world economy has left its impact everywhere.

“The government has taken initiatives to tide over the situation in the last one-and-a-half months. Our society is entrepreneurial and will overcome these challenges,” he added.

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