Behind BJP scramble to debunk Koshyari, fears of Marathi manoos backlash, Uddhav Sena rise

The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | 31-07-2022 | 11:50 am

Behind BJP scramble to debunk Koshyari, fears of Marathi manoos backlash, Uddhav Sena rise

The prompt bid by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules Maharashtra in alliance with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led rebel Shiv Sena faction, to reject Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s controversial take on Maharashtra and Mumbai was a clear damage-control exercise mounted in view of the political storm the latter’s remarks set off.The BJP’s move sharply underlined the point that the party — which also rules the Centre that appointed Koshyari to the Mumbai Raj Bhavan — cannot afford to incur the wrath of the “Marathi manoos (people)” whose sentiments might have been bruised by the Governor’s remarks.Addressing a function at Mumbai’s Andheri on Friday, Koshyari said, “If Gujaratis and Rajasthanis are removed from Maharashtra, especially Mumbai and Thane, no money will be left here… This place that is called financial capital will not be called financial capital.”Although the Governor later issued a clarification to claim that his statement was “distorted” as he never undermined the role of Marathis in the making of Mumbai and Maharashtra and that he was only lauding the role of Gujaratis and Rajasthanis, it had already triggered a huge political row, forcing the ruling camp to immediately distance itself from his remarks.The Deputy CM and senior BJP leader, Devendra Fadnavis, said, “We don’t subscribe to Governor’s remark. We believe that the formation of Maharashtra and Mumbai is an outcome of great sacrifice, hard work and struggle of Marathi manoos”, adding that “In almost every field, art, culture, industries, the progress of the state can be attributed to Marathis”. He said it was for the Governor to explain his remarks. As regards the BJP, he added, “It cannot and does not endorse his remarks about Mumbai and Maharashtra.”Koshyari’s statement drew an angry retort from BJP MLA Ashish Shelar, who said, “Marathi manoos is the pride of Mumbai and Maharashtra. Their immense role in building the city and the state cannot be questioned. We distance ourselves from the Governor’s remarks.”In every electoral battle in Maharashtra, from local body polls to the Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections, the political parties from across the spectrum have sought to use issues like Mumbai or Marathi manoos to their advantage. The Shiv Sena, which has ruled the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) for three decades besides ruling the state in various alliance governments since 1990s, has always sought to turn these issues into its emotive planks at the hustings.With the Congress continuing to slide and the NCP appearing to lose momentum, the BJP has emerged as a major rival of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena over the past decade. The vertical split in the Sena has made the BJP more ambitious, even as the Shinde faction joined its hands to topple the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.In recent months, the Thackeray Sena had been engaged in making an outreach to North Indians living in Mumbai and Maharashtra to expand its vote base beyond the local Marathi population. The recent visit of Thackeray’s son Aditya to the Ram Temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya reflected their party’s escalated efforts to shed its “anti-migrant” politics.It is in this context that some leaders in the BJP believe that Koshyari’s remarks brought the issue of Marathi manoos back to the centre stage of state politics, thereby giving the Thackeray Sena a fresh opportunity to connect to and gain support from its core Marathi vote bank.Marathis make up 26-30 per cent of Mumbai’s over 1.5 crore population. The Gujarati community and North Indians account for 17 per cent and 18-20 per cent population of the city, respectively.Traditionally, the BJP, a pan-India party, has always enjoyed the support of Gujaratis as well as North Indians. Although the Sena has had greater sway in the Marathi-dominated constituencies, the BJP has also been successful in making a dent in the former’s Marathi vote base in recent years.In the elections to the 227-member BMC in 2017, the BJP won 82 seats — just 2 less than the Sena. In the 2019 state Assembly elections, the BJP won more seats than the Sena in Mumbai and Thane districts. Of 36 seats in Mumbai, the BJP won 16 as against the Sena’s 14, Congress’s 4, and 1 each of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Samajwadi Party. Thane’s 18 seats saw the BJP winning 7, Sena 5, NCP 3, SP 1, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) 1 and Independent 1.For the BJP to realise its goal of securing a clear majority in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, it is vital for the party to win overcore Marathi voters loyal to Thackeray Sena. With CM Shinde, who hails from Thane, on its side, the BJP believes it can make deeper inroads in Mumbai and Thane.Another reason for the BJP’s move to promptly distance itself from Koshyari stems from the point that the two sides had publicly appeared to be on the same page during the MVA government’s tenure even as there had been an open war raging between the latter and the Raj Bhavan.Another charge which the BJP’s political opponents have regularly levelled against the Narendra Modi-led party government at the Centre isover its alleged designs to “break Mumbai away from Maharashtra”. Citing the examples such as Gujarat’s Gift City and the proposed bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, they have accused the BJP dispensation of making attempts to undermine Mumbai’s status as the financial capital of the country.Fadnavis refuted such allegations again a few days ago, saying that “When Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena have no issues to attack BJP with, they come up with such imaginary subjects to mislead people,” adding that no one can separate Mumbai from Maharashtra,

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Power, a reality check
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 17-08-2022 | 05:50 am
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 17-08-2022 | 05:50 am

The Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS), along with planned changes to the law, are the latest in a series of attempts by the central government to tackle the challenges of the power sector. Power sector reforms are overdue not just for their own sake but also because they are critical to rescuing state government finances.Excellent recent reports by the RBI and PRS Legislative Research provide lucid analyses of the fiscal situation of the states. Intended probably as a wake-up call, the RBI’s report reassured more than it alarmed. To be sure, a few states such as Punjab and Rajasthan had deficits and debt that exceeded the indicative targets set by the Fifteenth Finance Commission (FFC). But overall most states either met both or one of these targets.These reports highlight the challenges faced by states, owing to the dysfunctionality of the power sector discoms. But failing to fully integrate discom operations in the analysis of state government finances obscures the true picture. When this is done — as we do below — the reality is alarming.India has made impressive strides in increasing access to the quantity and quality of electricity and in expanding renewable capacity, for which the government deserves credit. But the financial health of the power sector is rapidly deteriorating and flirting with catastrophe.Figure 1 plots three measures of the estimated losses of the discoms in increasing order of “truth”: Headline losses, losses without subsidies and grants, and losses without subsidies and grants and including the arrears of the discoms.Our estimates suggest that for the fiscal year 2020-21, combined losses of the discoms are Rs 2.1 lakh crore without subsidies and grants which mount to Rs 3.0 lakh crore when arrears are included. These exceed by a factor of 2.7-3.8, respectively, the headline loss of 78,000 crore.But even these numbers might underestimate the problem. The loss numbers only exclude grants under the UDAY scheme even though there are several other grants. And the numbers only include discom arrears to the power generating companies (GENCOs) but not to others, resulting in overall payables of about Rs 2.4 lakh crore. The true arrears situation will therefore depend on the magnitude, certainty and timing of the discoms getting paid for their receivables, much of which is owed by government actors. The true loss estimate could therefore be greater.State governments could be staring at losses of 1.5 per cent of GDP just from this one sector. Moreover, as Figure 1 shows, apart from a brief period when headline losses were stabilised in the mid-2010s, true losses have been steadily increasing for over a decade.The truth is that the whole discom operation — with very few exceptions, notably in Gujarat and in a few urban metropolises — is a giant Ponzi scheme, both perpetrated and back-stopped by state governments.For over 50 years, costs have never really been covered by revenues, and losses in perpetuity have become a feature, not a bug. Few state government leaders, if any, have even pretended to achieve full cost recovery. The imitative populism that has gripped the states recently makes chronic under-recovery a reality going forward too.But this Ponzi scheme never sees — is never allowed to see — its disastrous denouement. Some government actor — typically state governments but also public sector banks or the central government — has always come to the rescue, averting a full-blown crisis. De facto, some public sector balance sheet back-stops the discoms and ultimately prevents the Ponzi fallout. Accepting this reality has one implication for accounting transparency. Public sector discom operations are traditionally thought to create contingent liabilities. Contingency seems a euphemism because with unfailing regularity they become actual liabilities. Put starkly, discom operations are state government operations.If that is true, and in the spirit of what the UDAY scheme attempted, discom losses (including arrears) operations must be included in state government finances both on the flow and stock side. Discom losses must be added to state government deficits, with logic and arithmetic consistency demanding that discom debt be included in state government debt (of course, this principle should apply to other “contingent” liabilities of state governments).For fiscal 2020-21, Figure 2 depicts state government finances to exclude (Panel A) and include (Panel B) discom losses (and arrears) for both flows and stocks. The contrast between the two is striking. Ignoring discom losses suggests that six states ran afoul of both fiscal targets set by the FFC and another six were consistent with both.When the accounting is done properly, 11 states run afoul of the fiscal targets set by the FFC. There is a general shift to the right (higher deficits) and upwards (higher debt). In FY21, “true” deficits, incorporating discom losses, increase state government deficits as a whole from 4.7 per cent to 5.5 per cent of state GSDP, putting state governments above fiscal responsibility limits. And their “true” aggregate debt increases from 31.0 per cent to 34.5 per cent. And there are some truly alarming cases: Not just Punjab and Rajasthan but also Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and to a lesser extent Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It is almost certainly the case that with true deficits and debts being greater, state governments’ fiscal sustainability will look much more precarious.Who then is financing or enabling this Ponzi scheme? Figure 3 provides the surprising answer. Increasingly, the power sector is being financed not by the PSBs but by the two non-bank financial companies, Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), which have recently been merged. From 2014 onwards, PFC/REC have lent more to the power sector than PSBs. As of 2021-22, the latter have lent about Rs 6 lakh crore (stagnant since 2014), whereas PFC/REC have lent Rs 7.6 lakh crore, more than doubling within four years from 2017. Moreover, more than one-third of PFC/REC lending is to the discoms. In other words, the next vulnerability in the financial system related to the power sector is PFC/REC.In sum, the facts presented above illustrate three new realities: The financial problem of discoms is considerably worse than headline numbers indicate; consequently, state government finances are considerably more precarious than even the recent RBI analysis suggests; and the vulnerabilities stemming from the financing of unsustainable discom operations have extended to a new institution, namely PFC/REC.What are the consequences and possible solutions? We take these up in our next article.Anand and Sharma are consultants in the private sector. Subramanian is with Brown University and the Center for Global Development

Power, a reality check
A workforce less diverse
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 17-08-2022 | 05:50 am
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 17-08-2022 | 05:50 am

This article analyses the underrepresentation of Muslims in the public and private sector, state-wise and over more than 10 years. We use the 66th and 68th rounds of the National Sample Survey, called ‘Employment and Unemployment,’ whose data was collected from July 2009 to June 2010 and July 2011 to June 2012. We also use the Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS) of July 2018-June 2019 and July 2019-2020. In each case, the samples are very large — in 2009-10, 122,359 people, in 2011-12, 125,931, in 2018-19, 99,988 and in 2019-20, 100,991.These surveys examine the composition of the public and private sectors, religion-wise. For the private sector, the category “proprietors” refers to the fact that the persons enumerated are not part of the salaried milieu but “self-employed” (a formula we keep) because if few of them are CEOs, most of them do work that pays less — shopkeepers and artisans for instance.To make the interpretation more robust, some weightage has been applied. Weight is basically a survey design variable that says approximately how many households in the population a surveyed household represents. The weightage associated with one household defines the number of households it represents in the population.The first two series, the 2009-10 and 2011-12 surveys, have only one public sector variable, while the 2018-19 and 2019-20 surveys account for the bureaucracy and state-owned enterprises. For the sake of comparison between the first two rounds and the later ones, we have bracketed together “bureaucracy” and “state-owned enterprises” and compared these data with the “public sector” category.There are significant variations between the first two rounds and the last two, even if we see more variations in frequency counts graphs than in weighted graphs — this is because frequency counts represent sample population and weighted data represent total populations. But to minimise the variations, we have calculated average figures for the first two rounds on the one hand and for the second two rounds on the other. As a result, two datasets have been generated by combining four data sets.The results are telling. While Muslims form 14.2 per cent of the Indian population, their proportion of the public sector employment has stagnated at below 7 per cent (from 6.75 to 6.87 per cent) between 2009-12 and 2018-2020. In contrast, Hindus who constitute 80.2 per cent of India’s population comprise about 86 per cent of the public sector. On the other hand, Muslims are over-represented among the self-employed — 16.5 per cent in 2009-12 and 15.5 per cent in 2018-20 per cent, an erosion we see in most states.In India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, where Muslims represent 19.26 per cent of the population, their percentage in the public sector had gone up from 5 per cent in 2010 to 11.5 per cent in 2012, when the Samajwadi Party was in office. But it has dropped to 7 per cent in 2019 and 6.5 per cent in 2020. Muslims are over-represented among the self-employed, simply because they have no other choice but to be on their own. Between 2010 and 2020, their percentage among the “self-employed” remained around 24 per cent. This pattern repeats in Madhya Pradesh as well, where Muslims (6.6 per cent of the population) represented 3 per cent of the public sector’s employees in 2009-12 and 4.5 per cent in 2018-20. They represented 10.7 per cent of the self-employed in 2009-12 and 11.7 of this category in 2018-20.In Rajasthan, Muslims, about 9 per cent of the population as per the 2011 Census, constituted 4.1 to 4.3 per cent of the employees in the public sector. They were over-represented among the self-employed despite some erosion in the later years — 13 per cent in 2009-12 to 10.2 per cent in 2018-20. In Delhi, the trends are the same: Muslims, 12.9 per cent of the population, represented only 4 to 5 per cent of the government employees but 14.5 per cent of the self-employed in 2009-2012 and 13.41 per cent of this category in 2018-20. They are over-represented among the self-employed but experienced some erosion. In Maharashtra too, the percentage of Muslims in the public sector, 4.8 per cent in 2009-12 and 5.2 in 2018-20 was much below their share of the state’s population —11.5 per cent. They remained over-represented among the self-employed –16.9 per cent in 2009-12 and 16.4 per cent in 2018-20. Similar trends are found in Karnataka, where Muslims constitute about 12.9 per cent of the state but only 6.2 per cent of public sector employees in 2009/12 and 5.2 per cent of the public sector in 2009-12/2018-20. They were also over-represented among the self-employed, despite some erosion — 20.3 per cent in 2009-12 and 19.1 per cent in 2018-20.In some states, the erosion of the share of Muslims among the self-employed is even more pronounced. As a result, they are under-represented not only in the public sector but also among the self-employed. In Gujarat, where Muslims are 10 per cent of the society, their share in public sector employment has come down from 7 per cent to a minuscule 1.5 per cent. Amongst entrepreneurs, their share has dropped from 12.5 per cent in 2010 to 9 per cent in 2020.In Assam, where Muslims account for 34.2 per cent of the population as per the 2011 Census, they have always been significantly under-represented — 17.4 employees in the public sector and 19.32 per cent in 2018-20. They were around 30 per cent of the self-employed in the period under review.The declining representation of Muslims, not only in the public sector but also among the “self-employed” suggests that they are now increasingly overrepresented among the unemployed. The share of Muslims deemed as jobless in the NSS surveys under review jumped from 2.62 per cent in 2009-10 to 7.16 per cent in 2018-19.Jaffrelot is senior research fellow at CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris, professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at King’s India Institute, London, and non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Saini is a Data Analyst & Researcher on Indian politics

A workforce less diverse
2002 rape and murder: Her case convicts feted, Bilkis Bano says leave me alone, husband ‘numb’
The Indian Express | 3 hours ago | 17-08-2022 | 03:50 am
The Indian Express
3 hours ago | 17-08-2022 | 03:50 am

FOR SEVERAL MINUTES late on Monday evening, Bilkis Bano could not believe that the 11 convicts had walked free — she first broke into tears and then went silent, her husband Yakub Rasool told The Indian Express.A day later, when contacted by The Indian Express, Bilkis said: “Please leave me alone… I have offered duas (prayers) for the soul of my daughter Saleha”.“We have been left numb, shocked and shaken,” said Rasool after a Gujarat panel granted remission of sentence to the 11 convicts who were jailed for life in 2008 for gangraping Bilkis and killing 14 of her family members, including her three-year-old daughter, during the 2002 riots.“The battle we fought for so many years has been wrapped up in one moment. A sentence of life imprisonment given by the court has been curtailed in such a manner… We had never even heard of the word ‘remission’. We didn’t even know that such a process exists,” Rasool told The Indian Express over phone from their home at Devgadh Baria in Dahod.After the convicts were welcomed with garlands and sweets following their release, Rasool said that Bilkis, now 41, was “distressed and melancholic”, unable to talk to anyone.“We have not even had the time to process this news and we know that they (the convicts) have already reached their homes…It is not that they never took parole; they did several times. But we did not expect that they would be released in such a manner,” he said.“What happened (in 2002) was so horrific that one can imagine what must be going through her mind… She was brutalised but witnessed the murder of her own daughter… She was violated not just as a woman but also as a mother and a human being — what can be worse than that?” Rasool said.“Now we only want to be left alone, and settle down for our five children. We do fear for our safety but we have not had the time to contemplate the next move,” he said.Sujal Mayatra, District Magistrate and Collector of Panchmahal, who chaired the Jail Advisory Committee (JAC) that recommended the remission, told The Indian Express that “it was a unanimous decision”.“The convicts had completed over 14 years of their life sentence. Their application had come about three months ago… Like in the case of any application for remission or premature release, this case was also considered on the basis of the behaviour of the convicts in prison as well as the tenure and other merits of the case. The recommendation was sent to the state government, and yesterday (Monday), we received the orders for their release,” Mayatra said.According to norms, the JAC has eight members including the District Magistrate (or Chief Metropolitan Magistrate) as chairman, jail superintendent, member secretary, District Sessions Judge, Superintendent of Police (or City Commissioner), District Social Welfare officer, and two local (elected) members.In this case, the elected members were Godhra BJP MLA C K Raulji and Kalol BJP MLA Suman Chauhan. Both were not available for comment tuesday.Another committee member, who did not wish to be identified, said the remission applications also cited medical grounds. “The oldest of the convicts was 70 years old and had health issues. Another convict, nearing 60 years of age, had also cited medical conditions as well as a medical emergency at home as his wife is battling a critical illness,” the member said.Gujarat Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Raj Kumar told The Indian Express that a total of 26 prisoners were released across the state on Monday.Bilkis was gangraped and 14 members of her family, including Saleha, were killed by a mob on March 3, 2002, in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district — the bodies of six were never found. The Supreme Court had ordered a CBI investigation in the case after Bilkis approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).In 2004, the Supreme Court directed the trial to be transferred from Gujarat to Maharashtra after Bilkis alleged death threats from the accused. And on January 21, 2008, a CBI special court in Mumbai convicted 13 accused, sentencing 11 to life imprisonment on charges of gangrape and murder. Three years later, the conviction was upheld by the Bombay High Court.In 2019, the Supreme Court awarded compensation of Rs 50 lakh to Bilkis, and asked the Gujarat government to provide her with a government job and accommodation.According to Rasool, the state government awarded the compensation and offered Bilkis the post of a peon in Devgadh Baria but she turned down the offer and sought employment for her husband instead. “The government is yet to consider the application. We are also yet to hear from the administration about the accommodation,” he said.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxAccording to Rasool, the compensation amount of Rs 50 lakh has been placed in a fixed deposit and will be used for the higher education of their children. “Our eldest daughter is 19 and pursuing a B.Com degree. Bilkis wanted her to be a lawyer and help other people seek justice but due to Covid we could not enroll her in the law college as it is outside Devgadh Baria. We have decided that she will graduate in Commerce and pursue LL.B,” he said.The second daughter, aged 16, is also attending college while their 15-year-old son is a Class 10 student in a private school.In the Lok Sabha polls of 2019, Bilkis had stepped out for the first time to cast her vote. “She was beginning to live her life again because justice had lessened our pain but this (remission) has come as a bolt from the blue… we are exhausted,” Rasool said.

2002 rape and murder: Her case convicts feted, Bilkis Bano says leave me alone, husband ‘numb’
Explained: The Bilkis case remissions
The Indian Express | 3 hours ago | 17-08-2022 | 03:50 am
The Indian Express
3 hours ago | 17-08-2022 | 03:50 am

The Gujarat government on Monday released 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano murder and gangrape case of 2002 under its remission and premature release policy after one of the convicts, Radheshyam Shah, moved the Supreme Court. Shah, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment by a CBI court in Mumbai in 2008, had completed 15 years and 4 months in jail.The law on remissionsUnder Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution, the President and Governors have the power to pardon, and to suspend, remit, or commute a sentence passed by the courts. Also, since prisons is a state subject, state governments have powers under Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to remit sentences.However, Section 433A of the CrPC puts certain restrictions on these powers of remission: “Where a sentence of imprisonment for life is imposed on conviction of a person for an offence for which death is one of the punishments provided by law, or where a sentence of death imposed on a person has been commuted under Section 433 into one of imprisonment for life, such person shall not be released from prison unless he had served at least fourteen years of imprisonment.”Prisoners are often released on the birth and death anniversaries of prominent leaders and other important occasions. For example, to mark the 76th Independence Day, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued guidelines to states to grant special remission for prisoners who have completed at least half their sentence — women and transgender prisoners above the age of 50, male convicts above the age of 60, and terminally ill convicts, among others.Grounds for remissionStates set up a Sentence Review Board to exercise the powers under Section 432 of the CrPC. The Supreme Court has held that states cannot exercise the power of remission arbitrarily, and must follow due process. While the policy varies from state to state, broadly the grounds for remission considered by the Board are the same.Seriousness of the crime, the status of the co-accused and conduct in jail are the factors considered for granting remission. In Laxman Naskar v. Union of India (2000) the SC laid down five grounds on which remission is considered:(a) Whether the offence is an individual act of crime that does not affect the society;(b) Whether there is a chance of the crime being repeated in future;(c) Whether the convict has lost the potentiality to commit crime;(d) Whether any purpose is being served in keeping the convict in prison; and(e) Socio-economic conditions of the convict’s family.Jail manuals contain rules that allow certain days of remission in every month for good behaviour of convicts. For those serving fixed sentences, the remission days are accounted for while releasing the convict. However, convicts serving life sentences are entitled to seek remission only after serving a minimum of 14 years. This rule has often led to uncertainty on whether a “life sentence” means 14 years or a sentence unto death, prompting courts in recent times to clarify that “life means the remainder of one’s life”.Data from Prison Statistics, 2020 show that 61% of convicts in jail are serving life sentences.The Bilkis case convictBilkis case convict Radheshyam Shah moved the Supreme Court this year after he had completed 15 years and four months of his life term awarded in 2008 by a CBI court in Mumbai.In an order dated May 13, 2022, a Bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath asked the Gujarat government to consider Shah’s application for premature release “within a period of two months”, as per the applicable remission policy.Gujarat was the “appropriate government” to decide on questions like remission or premature release because it was there that “the crime was committed and not the State where the trial stands transferred and concluded for exceptional reasons under the orders of this Court”, the SC said.The top court had transferred the trial to Maharashtra after Bilkis Bano faced death threats in Gujarat. Shah had gone in appeal against a July 17, 2019 order of the Gujarat High Court, which had ruled that Maharashtra would be the “appropriate government” to decide on his plea for remission. Before that, in August 2013, Bombay High Court had taken the opposite view in another convict’s plea for remission, and ruled that the case must be examined and decided as per the policy applicable in Gujarat.Gujarat’s remission policyThe remission policy that was notified in 1992 — and which was in force at the time of the crime and conviction — permitted prisoners to apply for remission “on the basis that life imprisonment is an arbitrary or notional figure of twenty years of imprisonment”.This policy was invalidated by the SC in November 2012. The court said: “Before actually exercising the power of remission under Section 432 of the CrPC the appropriate Government must obtain the opinion (with reasons) of the presiding judge of the convicting or confirming Court. Remission can, therefore, be given only on a case-by-case basis and not in a wholesale manner.”Following the SC order and instructions issued subsequently by the Union Home Ministry to all states and Union Territories, the Gujarat government formulated a fresh policy in 2014. This contained an annexure listing cases where remission could not be granted — among them were those in which the prisoners were convicted for a crime that was investigated by an agency under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (CBI, which was in the investigating agency in the Bilkis case), and prisoners convicted for murder with rape or gangrape.Applicability to Bilkis caseAdditional Chief Secretary (Home) Raj Kumar told The Indian Express that the 1992 policy, under which the convict (Shah) had sought remission, did not have the restrictions that were prescribed in the 2014 policy. He also said that the order of the CBI court passed in 2008 did not bar the convicts from applying for remission.“One of the convicts had moved the SC to seek remission as per the 1992 policy of the state government, which did not have the annexure excluding certain categories of convicts from applying for remission — rather than the 2014 resolution that is currently in place — as the order was delivered in 2008,” Raj Kumar said.Kumar also said: “…The process of remission is not the domain of the judiciary but of the executive, that is the government. Based on the eligibility, prisoners are granted remission after recommendation of the Jail Advisory Committee… The power has been given to the government under the CrPC Section 432 just like convicts on death row can apply for clemency before state Governors or President of India… Among the parameters considered in this case are age, nature of crime, behaviour in prison, and so on… The convicts in this particular case were also considered keeping in mind all the factors, since they had completed 14 years of the life term.”What happens nowAdvocate Shobha Gupta, who represented Bilkis Bano at the Supreme Court earlier, said that the legal remedy available to Bilkis now would be to challenge the government’s order allowing early release of the 11 convicts, either in the High Court or in the Supreme Court.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox“It can be challenged like any other government order, seeking that the government order be quashed and set aside. However, it is up to her (Bilkis) on whether she wants to exercise this remedy,” Gupta told The Indian Express.The Supreme Court had ordered a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for Bilkis in 2019.(With ENS, New Delhi)

Explained: The Bilkis case remissions
Free education to all children in Gujarat: Arvind Kejriwal
The Indian Express | 6 hours ago | 17-08-2022 | 12:50 am
The Indian Express
6 hours ago | 17-08-2022 | 12:50 am

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday promised “free and good education” to all children in Gujarat, which is scheduled to go to polls later this year.Addressing a townhall in Bhuj, the district headquarters of Kutch district, Kejriwal said, “We guarantee free and good education to every child born in Gujarat. We won’t resort to force though. If you have money, you are free to send your children to private schools. But if parents don’t have money, the lack of money will not be allowed to stand between good education and your children. We will give the best education to your children free of cost”.The AAP chief gave five guarantees to people of Gujarat which the party will implement if it wins the Assembly elections — free education to children, overhauling government schools, conducting audit of private schools and not allow them to increase fees unreasonably, regularise contract teachers, and not assigning non-teaching duties to teachers.Kejriwal, as his second guarantee,  promised that an AAP government “will transform existing government schools into ‘shandar’ schools which will be better than private schools in respect of buildings, classrooms, desks, blackboards, teachers etc and we will open a big number of new government schools.”“Thirdly, we will conduct an audit of all private schools and will ask all those who have collected excessive fees to return it to you. If any government wants to increase its fee, it will have to take approval from the government and no school will be allowed to increase the fee unreasonably,” he added.Stating that future of 17 crore students studying in government schools, including 53 lakh in Gujarat was bleak,  the AAP chief claimed that government schools were in shambles because “the BJP and Congress governments didn’t set schools right and instead made education kabada (a business).”He said that the practice of private schools asking parents to purchase uniforms and books from the respective schools will be done away with.“Fourthly, presently, there are lots of kacche (ad hoc) teachers like contractual and vidyasahayaks. We will regularise their service and will give them respect. They will teach our students well only if we respect them, honour them and give them job security of job.”As his fifth guarantee, he said teachers won’t be assigned non-teaching duties.“We will not give non-teaching duties to any government. We have stopped this in Delhi and then in Punjab also,” he said.He appealed Vidyasahayaks (those working as probationary teachers in government primary schools for first five years after being recruited by the Gujarat government) and policemen to campaign for the AAP and assured them to fulfil their demand of regularising their services and higher grade pay respectively if voted to power.“ All Vidyasahayaks do intense campaigning for Aam Aadmi Party. I guarantee to address all your issues once we form the government after three months… Policemen are demanding (higher) grade pay here. I supported their demand last month. After that, the Gujarat government woke up but it gave lollypop… Instead of giving grade pay, it increased their allowances marginally… Do accept allowances from these people, work for Aam Aadmi Party covertly, bring an Aam Aadmi Party government and we will give you grade pay,” he added.The AAP chief further alleged that the Gujarat government is not taking action against private schools that were “looting parents by arbitrarily raising fees in the netas (politicians) own more than half of the private schools.Kejriwal said, “I am told, in Gujarat, there is a committee to regulate school fees. But instead of regulating fees, all this committee does is to give its stamp of approval to fee hikes. The private school (managements) have virtually resorted to hooliganism and the government is not taking any action against private schools because it gets money from them. More than half of private schools are run by these netas.”Reiterating his signature ‘Hamne Dilli ke sarkari schools shandar kar diye’ (we turned government schools in Delhi into excellent schools) assertion, the Delhi CM cited 99.7 per cent result of government school students in board examination in Delhi and government school students managing to get admissions to IITs and medical colleges to underscore that it was possible overhaul government schools and make quality education accessible to children of the poor also.

Free education to all children in Gujarat: Arvind Kejriwal