Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

BJP 19 states

It was celebration time for BJP MPs as they gathered in the afternoon today, 20/12/2017. BJP had won in Gujarat for the sixth time in a row and had won Himachal Pradesh from Congress. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly told BJP MPs “We are now ruling 19 states. Even Indira Gandhi, when she was in power, was in 18 states.”
Now there are 29 states in India. When India Gandhi became Prime Minister in 1966 there were 16 states. Haryana became a state in 1966. Himachal Pradesh became a state in 1971. Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura became states in 1972. Sikkim became a state in 1975. During Indira Gandhi’s lifetime the number of states was not more than 22. She died in 1984.
Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Goa became states in 1987. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand (then Uttaranchal) became states in 2000. Telangana became a state in 2014.
In Jammu and Kashmir BJP is in coalition with PDP. In Goa, BJP is in coalition with regional parties. In Manipur, BJP is in coalition with NPP, NFP and LJP. In Bihar it lost the election in 2015. It is in power because Nitish Kumar dumped coalition partners RJD and Congress in July 2017 and formed a coalition with BJP. In Andhra Pradesh, BJP is junior partner to TDP. In Maharashtra it has Shiv Sena and some small parties as allies.
Congress rules Karnataka, Mizoram, Nagaland and Punjab, Left Front rules Kerala and Tripura, AIADMK rules Tamil Nadu, TRS rules Telangana, BJD rules Orissa, TMC rules West Bengal and SDF rules Sikkim.
It is a great achievement for BJP from two Lok Sabha seats in 1984 to 86 in 1989, 120 in 1991, 161 in 1996, 182 in 1998 and 1999. Then there was decline to 138 in 2004 and 116 in 2009. Then rise again to 282 Lok Sabha seats in 2014.
When Indira Gandhi was PM, Chhattisgarh was part of MP, Jharkhand was part of Bihar, Uttarakhand was part of UP and Telangana was part of Andhra Pradesh.

Adultery as crime

On 8/12/2017 Supreme Court dealt with Section 497 of Indian Penal Code which makes adultery punishable for man but not for married woman. The bench was headed by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Justice Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud and Justice Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar were other members of the bench.
IPC 497 says, “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.”

Section 198(2) in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 says “(2) For the purposes of sub- section (1), no person other than the husband of the woman shall be deemed to be aggrieved by any offence punishable under section 497 or section 498 of the said Code: Provided that in the absence of the husband, some person who had care of the woman on his behalf at the time when such offence was com- mitted may, with the leave of the Court, make a complaint on his behalf.”

The court was hearing a public interest litigation petition, challenging the constitutionality of Section 497 IPC read with Section 198(2) of the CrPC. Appearing for the petitioner, advocate for the petitioner said that Section 497 IPC was unconstitutional as it discriminates against men and violates Article 14, 15 and 21. “When the sexual intercourse takes place with the consent of both the parties, there is no good reason for excluding one party from the liability,” he said.

Justice Chandrachud said the provision which said that it would be an offence only if done without the consent of the husband “put the woman in a position of a commodity”. He added, “As if with his permission, there would not have been any problem.”

The bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India, said, “Ordinarily, the criminal law proceeds on gender neutrality but in this provision, as we perceive, the said concept is absent. That apart, it is to be seen when there is conferment of any affirmative right on women, can it go to the extent of treating them as the victim, in all circumstances, to the peril of the husband… A time has come when the society must realise that a woman is equal to a man in every field. This provision, prima facie, appears to be quite archaic. When the society progresses and the rights are conferred, the new generation of thoughts spring, and that is why, we are inclined to issue notice.”

The court issued a notice to the Centre on the constitutionality of the IPC provision dealing with adultery, saying it appeared to be “archaic” and did not appear to be gender-neutral.

Punishing a man for a crime and not punishing the woman for the same crime is sexual discrimination. Feminists have not argued against IPC 497. They have not demanded equality with men in punishment for adultery. They have not said this is commodification of woman, it reduced woman to husband’s property. There is no punishment for adultery when a married man has sex with an unmarried woman.

Adultery is a ground for divorce. Many married women when caught in adultery say they were raped. Law Commission of India in its 42nd report had recommended the retention of Section 497 with the modification that the wife, who commits adultery, should be made punishable for adultery. Parliament rejected the recommendation.

Either adultery should be a crime for both man and woman or it should not be a crime for any of them.

New Capital for India

Some days back in my article Pollution Solutions I had written “India’s capital can be shifted to Evershine City, Vasai, Maharashtra. It will reduce people, cars and pollution in Delhi.” Today, 2 December 2017, at 8 p.m. on NDTV 24×7 the topic on The Big Fight was Change of National Capital. For some time alternatives for Delhi were discussed. Then the discussion went off-track with AAP (Ashish Khetan), BJP (Vijay Jolly), and Congress (Sharmishta Mukherjee) representatives blaming each other for problems of Delhi. Mohan Guruswamy, Prahlad Kakkar, Sudhir Vohra and Vimlendu Jha were other panellists.
Some cities like Bangalore and Madras were ruled out. One suggestion was to have a new city between Bhopal and Nagpur. Change of national capital does not mean 22 million people of Delhi or 63 million people of National Capital Region have to move to the new capital. Around 40 square miles of area is enough for new capital.
It is enough to shift national Executive, Judiciary and Legislature to new capital. President, Vice President, MPs and Supreme Court judges have to be in new capital. Ministers have to be MPs. They can live in flats. Foreign countries will shift their embassies. New Parliament House should be big enough to accommodate 1,600 Lok Sabha members. India should have one Lok Sabha member for one million. India’s population was 121 crores in 2011. India’s population is not expected to go beyond 160 crores unless other countries or territories become part of India.
Agra was India’s or Mughal Empire’s capital for many years. Shah Jahan shifted the capital to Delhi. For much of British Rule, Calcutta was the capital and Simla was the summer capital. It is said the government used to function for seven months in a year from Simla. There were Fatehpur Sikri and Daulatabad which did not last long as capital. India had many kingdoms with their capitals. The kingdoms became princely states under British Rule.
The site for new capital has to be pollution-free. It has to be hilly area so it does not flood during monsoon. It is good if airport and railway station are in the vicinity or new ones can be built.
With a new capital for India, Delhi can become a state. That will put an end to friction between Delhi Government and Central Government.

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