Senior journalist Priya Ramani was acquitted on Wednesday in a Delhi court of the criminal defamation charge that former federal minister Mobasher Jawed Akbar brought against her because of the #MeToo sexual harassment allegation two years ago.
“Sexual abuse takes away dignity and self confidence. Right of reputation can’t be protected at the cost of right to dignity,” the judge said while delivering the judgement on Wednesday.
Ramani had alleged that the former minister of state for external affairs had sexually harassed her during a job interview in 1994.
“The time has come for our society to understand that sometimes a victim may not speak for years because of the mental trauma. The woman cannot be punished for raising her voice against sexual abuse”, the judgement said.
Akbar, the first person to have filed a defamation suit after #MeToo movement gained momentum in 2018, had described allegations against him by female journalists as “false, fabricated and deeply distressing”. He was a celebrated editor in India before he entered politics and became a member of the Upper House of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, and subsequently a cabinet minister.
“President Uncle, forgive my mother”
a photo of Shabnam’s son went viral on social media, with a placard in his hand, “President Uncle Ji, forgive my mother.”
Shabnam will be the first woman to be hanged in independent India. While meeting her son in jail, she asked him to focus on his studies. At the same time, the son is requesting ‘President Uncle’ to forgive his mother.
Shabnam, who was sentenced to death, met his 12-year-old son on Sunday. The son along with his guardian Usman went to meet his mother Shabnam Ali in Rampur Jail and met for about 45 minutes. After meeting the mother, the son told the media that his mother has asked him to focus on his studies. He said, “My mother has asked me to focus on my studies. I again appeal to ‘President Uncle’ to forgive my mother.”
Superintendent of Rampur prison PD Salonia said, “The mother and son were eager to meet each other ever since it was reported that preparations for hanging Shabnam in Mathura jail have started. Shabnam’s son used to come to Rampur jail with his guardian every 3 months to meet his mother. Likewise, came to meet his mother on Sunday afternoon. The meeting lasted for 45 minutes. “
Shabnam, 38, killed 7 members of his family – his mother, father, two brothers, sister-in-law, cousin, and 10-month-old nephew, who objected to the relationship with Salim. Shabnam was pregnant at that time. Then she gave birth to a son in Moradabad Jail in 2008. When the son was 6 years old, the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in Amroha handed him over to his guardian, a resident of Bulandshahr district.
Meanwhile, in 2010, Shabnam and Salim were sentenced to death, convicted of these murders. Shabnam petitioned against this order in many courts, also applied a mercy petition to the President, which was rejected.
Now preparations are on to hang Shabnam in Mathura jail. Jail director-general Anand Kumar has said, “As soon as the date for hanging is fixed and a warrant for the death penalty is issued, Shabnam will be taken to Mathura jail for hanging.” Shabnam will be the first woman to be hanged in independent India.
Historic move, Nagaland plays national anthem in Legislative Assembly for the first time since 1964
Nagaland, the northeastern state of India, has been collecting headlines only for militancy, separatism and violence since attaining the status of a separate state.
Nagaland, which has made headlines for separatism and violence, is now in the news for playing the national anthem in the assembly. The national anthem has never been played there since the formation of a separate state fifty-eight years ago. Nagaland was given the status of a separate state on 1 December 1963, after being cut from Assam. But now after 58 years, during the budget session of the assembly for the first time, the National Anthem has been played in the House.
In the state of Tripura too, the national anthem was played for the first time in the house only after the BJP government came to power in the year 2018. Especially for Nagaland, it is being called a historic moment. Nagaland was part of Assam at the time of independence of the country in 1947. After that on 1 December 1963, it was given the status of a separate state. The first assembly was formed in February after the state assembly elections held in January 1964.
Assembly Speaker Sharingain Longkumer said, “I had suggested to play the national anthem before the Governor’s address to the House. The government also supported the proposal. He refused to comment on the question as to why the national anthem was not played in Nagaland till now. He said I am proud to start this tradition of playing the national anthem here in the House. Ever since I became a part of the thirteenth assembly, I used to miss the national anthem in the House. After becoming the Speaker, I consulted the Chief Minister on this issue. On getting his green signal, the way of playing it in the house was cleared.
Longkumer was elected as a member of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) in the 2019 by-election and became an assembly member. State legislator and former assembly speaker C Sajo says, “There has never been this tradition before. But according to the protocol, if the governor wants, the national anthem can be played in the house. Its decision depends on the Speaker.”
Constitutional experts say that playing the national anthem is not mandatory in the state assembly. It is played as a tradition. Subhash Kashyap, general secretary of the Lok Sabha, says, “There is nothing in the constitution that mandates the playing of the national anthem. It is a matter of respect for this song.”
Puducherry political crisis: What will happen next?
The Chief Minister alleged that Governor used to interfere in the daily affairs of the government, prohibited government appointments, prevented the government from taking decisions, and even reversed the decisions at times.
This political pull in Puducherry is the result of a long-running power struggle between Congress and the BJP at the national level. In Puducherry, Congress was left in power in the southern states only. In July 2019, similarly in Karnataka, due to the resignation of Congress MLAs, the Congress-JD (S) government fell and the BJP came to power.
What will happen after this in the state is not yet clear. The second-largest party in the House is the NR Congress and if it lays claim to form the government, the Governor can invite NR Congress. Since the elections are just two months away, the Governor can implement President’s rule till then.
There are only three Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs in Puducherry, but it is believed that if the NR Congress and AIADMK together form the government, then all three BJP MLAs will also join it. The BJP hopes that this will also affect the politics of the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. Elections are held simultaneously in both the states and usually the victory of the same party or coalition prevails in both states. In 2016, the Congress-DMK coalition got a majority in Puducherry but in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK formed the government.
At the beginning of the tenure of the Puducherry government, a tussle between Chief Minister Narayanasamy and then Governor Kiran Bedi started and continued. The Chief Minister alleged that Governor used to interfere in the daily affairs of the government, prohibited government appointments, prevented the government from taking decisions, and even reversed the decisions at times.
In February 2019, Narayanasamy was sitting on a sit-in protest against Kiran Bedi for six days. In January 2020, the Chief Minister once again sat on a three-day dharna demanding the removal of the Governor. On February 16, the President removed Kiran Bedi from the post of Governor and handed over the additional charge of the state to the Governor of Telangana.
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