APRIL 28, SUNDAY

Delhi Edition

* Front Page

15 dead after gun battle with bombing suspects in Sri Lanka

 

15 dead after gun battle with bombing suspects in Sri Lanka

Three die in gunfire, while three others blow themselves up in Ampara

Meera Srinivasan

Fight at night: Police and Army officers display bomb-making materials recovered from a hideout in Kalmunai. APAP

COLOMBO

The bodies of 15 people, including six children, were found at a building in Sri Lanka’s eastern Ampara district after an “explosion” early on Saturday, according to a military spokesman.

The explosion, Brigadier Sumith Atapattu said, followed an overnight gun battle between security forces and suspects linked to the Easter Day bombings at the building. “We believe they set off the explosives following the gunfight,” he told The Hindu.

Three suspected jihadists died in the gunfire, while three others are believed to have blown themselves up, also killing six children and three women in the process, according to the police.

One civilian was killed in the firing, and five others who were injured were taken to hospital, Brigadier Atapattu said, confirming that no one from the security forces was killed.

The operation, which began around 7 p.m. on Friday, and continued till early morning on Saturday, was carried out around the Sammanthurai, Sainthamaruthu and Nintavur areas, all located within a 10-km-radius in Ampara, a Muslim-majority district.

Based on a tip-off, troops surrounded “a safe house” used by suspected terrorists on Friday evening. The suspects opened fire, the Army spokesman said, and the troops “retaliated and raided the safe house.”

 
Medicines dumped in unused toilets as probe goes silent

 

Medicines dumped in unused toilets as probe goes silent

A year on, no concrete action taken on ₹27.16-crore ‘scam’

Pon Vasanth B.A

Cartons of medicines kept in a toilet at the RAMO’s office in Madurai. Pon Vasanth B.A.Special Arrangement

MADURAI

Over a year after a potential scam in procuring medicines using indents arbitrarily inflated to the tune of ₹27.16 crore surfaced in Tamil Nadu, the excess stocks of medicines remain dumped in various places, including unused toilets in the office of the Regional Administrative Medical Officer, ESI Scheme, Madurai.

The medicines were purchased for 65 Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) dispensaries in nine districts coming under the Madurai RAMO, for August 2017 to July 2018. In July last, The Hindu reported that the government had ordered a probe into the case, based on a report of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. It has not led to any concrete action yet.

 

 

* Nation

Cash for votes — T.N.’s best kept open secret





Cash for votes — T.N.’s best kept open secret

No party admits to offering bribes to voters, even though it is common knowledge that they all do. In the just-concluded elections to 38 Lok Sabha constituencies and 18 Assembly seats in Tamil Nadu, cash seizures alone added up to around ₹215 crore, almost 10 times the haul during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. While some activists blame the ‘freebie culture’ in the State, others call for an overhaul of the legal framework to rid the poll process of the menace

T. RAMAKRISHNAN

Growing problem: Cash seizures, with a long history in T.N., have only increased with every election. The seizures in Vellore between March 29 and April 1 saw the election to the LS constituency being called off. C. Venkatachalapathy

Chennai

A month ago, when election authorities in Tamil Nadu began receiving complaints of cash distribution by major parties ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission told two judges of the Madras High Court, in unambiguous terms, that “cash for votes” was a major problem.

A few days later came ‘Operation Vellore’. Between March 29 and April 1, the authorities conducted “search and seizure operations”, initially at the residence of DMK treasurer Durai Murugan and his son Kathir Anand, the party’s candidate for the Vellore Lok Sabha constituency. Later, the premises of close associates of Mr. Anand and their relatives were searched. The operation on All Fools Day yielded a total cash seizure of ₹11.48 crore. The poll process in Vellore was subsequently cancelled.

By the time the poll process was over in the remaining 38 Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamil Nadu, cash seizures alone added up to several tens of crores of rupees. As on April 25, the value of cash seizures was around ₹215 crore, almost 10 times the cash seized during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Even though not all the cash seized is meant for bribing voters, the seizures this time around only underscore the gravity of the problem, which has a long history in Tamil Nadu. Video clips have also emerged showing political party functionaries distributing money to voters in some places and publicly discussing how to take the money to voters without being caught.

No recent phenomenon

Complaints of cash for votes surfaced even in the 1962 Assembly elections. The Congress was accused of buying voters in Kancheepuram, a charge that it denied. Eventually, in the temple town, DMK founder C.N. Annadurai lost to the Congress’s nominee, S.V. Natesa Mudaliar, a fleet operator, by a margin of 9,190 votes.

The amounts spent by political parties on elections has only grown over the years. On record, none of the parties concedes that it bribes people, even though it is common knowledge. Only the rates of bribery vary from one party to another.

“This time, they were anywhere in the range of ₹200 to ₹3,000 per voter. Of course, the higher amount was in the case of Parliamentary constituencies where Assembly byelections also took place,” charges Jayaram Venkatesan, convenor of Arappor Iyakkam, an anti-corruption body. He adds that money or freebies bring about a swing of 6% in favour of a particular candidate, as per a recent survey conducted in the State by the New Delhi-based Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).

Paradigm shift

The qualitative difference between the Thirumangalam byelection, held in January 2009, and others is the combination of money and muscle power.

Asked to distinguish Thirumangalam from the bypolls of Kancheepuram and Gummidipoondi in May 2005, Naresh Gupta, who was the State’s Chief Electoral Officer on both occasions, replies that muscle power was not as evident before and after Thirumangalam.

“Of course, the scale [of money power] was considerably higher,” he says. (The AIADMK was in power in May 2005 and the DMK in January 2009.)

The “Thirumangalam formula” has come to symbolise the role of money power in elections.

Both the DMK and the AIADMK were accused by the Left and the BJP of having resorted to “the formula” during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and February 2015 Srirangam bypoll. Today, the Left is an ally of the DMK and the BJP, a friend of the AIADMK.

EC intervention

The 2016 Assembly elections saw a new trend with the Election Commission going to the extent of rescinding the poll process in two Assembly constituencies. The poll body, which had first postponed polling in the two places before cancelling it, had to say virtually in exasperation in its order of May 2016 that it “had hoped and expected that the postponement of poll in the two constituencies would have a sobering effect on the illegal use of money power in the election process, but that hope has been dashed to the ground as the unlawful activities of the candidates and political parties to offer allurements to the electorates continued unabated.”

When the elections in the two seats took place five months later, V. Senthil Balaji and M. Rengasamy, then in the AIADMK, against whom the Election Commission had earlier entertained complaints, were elected from Aravakurichi and Thanjavur. Even now, they are in the fray but as nominees of the DMK and the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam.

Letter of the law

Many activists have expressed shock and concern over the Commission allowing such persons to contest in elections. Mr. Venkatesan says that at least during the pendency of the case they should be temporarily disqualified. But, Satyabrata Sahoo, the present Chief Electoral Officer, pleads helplessness and says there is no such provision in the existing electoral laws and rules. “Some people are expecting us to act immediately. But, we can go only by the due course of law,” he points out.

The 2017 R.K. Nagar byelection became infamous for a variety of reasons. One of them was the offer of “innovative” gifts such as prepaid phone recharge coupons, newspaper subscription, milk tokens, money transfer to no-frills bank accounts and mobile wallets.

Over the years, only the manifestation of the problem changes. But, the fault lies with the people, feel some activists. M.G. Devesahayam, civil servant-turned-activist, blames the culture of freebies, as practised by the State’s two principal parties while in power.

The people see no difference in taking money from candidates as they have otherwise got used to receiving money from the government under one scheme or the other.

Unholy nexus

Sudarsan Padmanabhan, ADR trustee and Tamil Nadu Election Watch coordinator, says an “unholy nexus” is growing between the parties and the voters as the former feels justified in giving money to the latter on account of their “inability” to convince the people through their welfare schemes or the strength of their manifestos.

A senior police officer, handling election work, laments about how ineffective the legal provisions are with regard to bribery in elections. Rarely are chargesheets prepared, after first information reports are filed. Once the elections are over, the focus diminishes on offences with virtually no conviction happening. To address the issue, at least in the future, bribery has to be made a cognisable offence with a minimum of two years’ imprisonment. In the R.K. Nagar case itself, the FIR was quashed by a single judge with the Election Commission not even being aware of it.

Mr. Devesahayam calls for a fresh law to replace the Representation of People Act, 1951, which, he says, has outlived its life. The new law should incorporate all the suggestions made by the Election Commission over the years, including what former Chief Election Commissioner T.S. Krishnamurthy had proposed 15 years ago, and panels such as Law Commission and Parliamentary committees.

E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, former Union Minister who headed a committee of parliamentarians on the reforms, is emphatic in saying that the Election Commission should have its own machinery to investigate and prosecute offenders of electoral laws.

There has to be special election committees to go into complaints and objections levelled against prospective candidates before acceptance of nomination papers and returning officers should go by what the committees decide.

If the suggested changes see the light of day, the “system” of cash for votes, activists hope, will soon become a relic in Tamil Nadu.




Chennai’s third full-fledged emergency dept. at KMC





Chennai’s third full-fledged emergency dept. at KMC

Zero-delay ward gets upgrade; facility to be ready by mid-May

Serena Josephine M.

Facelift: KMC’s zero-delay ward will soon become a full-fledged emergency department. S.R. Raghunathan

CHENNAI

Chennai will soon get its third full-fledged emergency department in the government sector at the Government Kilpauk Medical College (KMC) Hospital. After Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) and Government Royapettah Hospital, an emergency department — that includes triage area, resuscitation bay and colour-coded zones — as per the Tamil Nadu Accident and Emergency Care Initiative (TAEI) guidelines is being readied at KMC.

P. Vasanthamani, Dean, KMC, said the hospital’s zero-delay ward would soon become a full-fledged emergency department. “The zero-delay ward and casualty were being run separately. Now we have merged the two into the emergency department. Infrastructure work is fast progressing. The remodelling has been taken up as per TAEI guidelines and it will have all facilities. It should be ready by the second week of May,” she said.

A model centre

KMC is recognised as a level II trauma care centre. Every day, the zero-delay ward received an average of 40 to 50 cases, she said, adding, “The new facility will include a one-stop procedure room, emergency resuscitation bays, red, green and yellow zones, and examination room. We are developing this as a model centre.”

In Chennai, after RGGGH, a similar emergency facility was set up at the Government Royapettah Hospital following minor modifications, according to J. Mariano Anto Bruno Mascarenhas, technical team leader, TAEI. “This will be the third such emergency department in the city, and the Government Stanley Medical College Hospital will soon follow. Such centres are being established in around 75 government hospitals across the State,” he said.

He added that emergency departments consisted of an emergency room (ER) and a hybrid high-dependency unit or multidisciplinary critical care unit. “The ER will have triage area and resuscitation bay. The ER is colour-coded as red, yellow and green, based on the nature of emergency. A standard emergency room, work flow mechanism in the trauma care facility is to be set up,” he explained.

The ER would also have point of care testing for rapid investigations. He pointed out that at RGGGH — where a full-fledged emergency department has been functioning for over a year — mortality rates had dropped significantly.



HC orders transfer of Madurai Collector over security breach





HC orders transfer of Madurai Collector over security breach

Petitioner fears Tahsildar could have manipulated records on postal ballots

Mohamed Imranullah S.

S. Natarajan

The Madras High Court on Saturday ordered the transfer of Madurai Collector S. Natarajan on a petition filed by CPI(M) candidate Su. Venkatesan, accusing the Returning Officer of inaction after a Tahsildar entered a storage room situated adjacent to the strong room containing EVMs of the Madurai Parliamentary constituency on April 20.

A Division Bench of Justices S. Manikumar and Subramanioum Prasad also ordered the transfer of Assistant Returning Officer M. Guru Chandran, the Collector’s Personal Assistant (General), Mohandas, the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) and all others responsible for the breach of security. They were informed that Tahsildar Sampoornam had already been suspended.

The court was also told that the Election Commission itself had on Saturday accepted Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo’s recommendation to transfer the Returning Officer and the Assistant Returning Officer, and had deputed S. Nagarajan and S. Shantha Kumar to those posts. The EC had also ordered initiation of disciplinary action against the two erring officials.

After recording the contents of the EC’s communication and passing orders transferring all officials concerned, the judges adjourned further hearing to Tuesday.

In his affidavit, Mr. Venkatesan stated that the Tahsildar had entered the document storage room along with a few other officials and had spent about three hours there. It was puzzling how she managed to enter the heavily guarded building of the Madurai Government Medical College Hospital, where the EVMs for the Lok Sabha polls were stored, he said.

Though party cadre demanded an explanation, the Returning Officer did not visit the spot at all. Further, the Collector gave an audience to the petitioner only at midnight, and even then, he feigned ignorance about the entry of the Tahsildar into the storage room, he claimed. “It is totally untrue as he (Collector) cannot be a person unaware of the said incident when the unlawful entrants were let off only at the intervention of some officials from his office,” his affidavit read.

The petitioner apprehended that the Tahsildar could have manipulated records related to postal ballots during her unauthorised entry into the document storage room.

His main plea was to direct the EC to constitute a special investigation team led by an officer not below the rank of principal secretary to the EC and to bring the culprits to book after a thorough inquiry. He also sought the transfer of the Returning Officer, three-tier security for counting centres across the State and a special observer in the rank of an IAS officer for counting postal ballots in Madurai constituency after thorough verification of records to find out whether the Tahsildar had manipulated any document.



CBI takes over Pollachi sexual abuse case





CBI takes over Pollachi sexual abuse case

Special Correspondent

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Saturday formally took over the probe into the sensational Pollachi sexual abuse and blackmail case.

The central agency, which took over the case on a recommendation from the State government, has registered two FIRs in the case.

While one FIR is based on the complaint of a college girl who was assaulted in a car by four youth, the other FIR was registered on the complaint of her brother that he was beaten up by a gang who intervened on behalf of the main accused in the case.

The case relates to the alleged enticing of several young women and filming them in a compromising position for the purpose of blackmail. Investigation in the case, which was handled by the local police, was transferred to the CB-CID and subsequently to the CBI. Recently, the CB-CID included rape as one of the offences against the accused.



State rejects recommendation to hike salaries of court staff





State rejects recommendation to hike salaries of court staff

Former CJ had recommended an increase on a par with Delhi HC, SC employees

Mohamed Imranullah S.

CHENNAI

In a major decision, the State government has decided not to accept a recommendation by former Chief Justice of Madras High Court Sanjay Kishan Kaul (now a Supreme Court judge) to increase salaries of the Madras High Court staff on a par with those serving in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court.

Replying to a case filed by three employees for implementation of the recommendation made on February 10, 2017, the government told Justices M. Venugopal and Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy that the recommendation would have a cascading effect on salaries of government employees.

According to the government, the Madras High Court staff as well as Tamil Nadu Secretariat have been receiving a completely a different and higher pay scale than other government employees of equal cadre for long.

Therefore, any increase now in the salary of the High Court staff would lead to a consequent revision of pay for Secretariat staff too. Such revisions would badly affect the public exchequer and the vertical as well as horizontal pay relativity of certain equivalent categories in other departments of the State government.

Cascading effect

“There are many common cadres between judiciary and other departments. Any change in one department will have a cascading effect on other departments,” the court was told.

The government also took a stand that the pay structure of one State could not be compared with another State as the resource opportunities were quite different.

The pay scales of employees of the Supreme Court as well as the Delhi High Court were high because those expenses were borne by the Centre, which had much more resources at its command, it added.

After taking the counter affidavit on file, the Division Bench, led by Justice Venugopal, pointed out that the former Chief Justice had recommended an increase in the pay for High Court staff only after taking into consideration the different nature of work performed by the court staff, who had to work even after office hours and also during holidays.

Wondering whether the government could summarily reject a recommendation made by the Chief Justice, the judges said the issue required a detailed examination. They adjourned the hearing on the case filed by the employees to June 6 to enable Advocate General Vijay Narayan to argue on behalf of the State.



Gujarat govt. to back potato farmers in PepsiCo fight





Gujarat govt. to back potato farmers in PepsiCo fight

Congress’s Ahmed Patel says Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority should have intervened

Mahesh Langa, Priscilla Jebaraj

Good yield: Gujarat produces 33 lakh tonnes from its 1.21 lakh hectares planted with the potato crop. file photo

AHMEDABAD/NEW DELHI

With protests coming from all ends of the political spectrum, the Gujarat government has decided to back four potato farmers in their fight against PepsiCo’s ₹4.2 crore lawsuit against them for allegedly infringing its rights by growing the potato used in Lays chips.

A senior official told The Hindu that the State government will join the ongoing legal case on the side of the farmers, just hours after senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel slammed PepsiCo and said the State “shouldn’t keep its eyes shut”.

“We will be joining in the matter as a party to support farmers,” a top government official said, refusing to be identified. He added that the decision to support farmers in the matter was taken at the highest level in order to protect the interests of the farmers.

Gujarat produces 33 lakh tonnes from its 1.21 lakh hectares planted with the potato crop, with Banaskantha recently pipping Uttar Pradesh’s Agra to become the country’s largest potato producing district.

Senior Congress leader from Gujarat Ahmed Patel said it was a “wake-up call” for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. “Why have they been sleeping for so long when an MNC is taking our farmers to court? The Centre is yet to take any action, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority should have intervened,” he told The Hindu, adding that this case could have widespread implications for other farmers across the country.

He pointed out that farmers are already facing losses and struggling in a drought situation. “Farmers will grow as the market dictates. Foreign companies cannot dictate what our farmers must or mustn’t cultivate. In the Congress manifesto, we have promised a kisan (farmer) budget. We are not against corporates, but farmers’ interests must take priority,” he said.

Political pressure from all corners has been on the rise, with farmers’ groups affiliated to the ruling BJP, including the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, as well as those linked to the Left parties, threatening a boycott of Pepsi products and demanding government intervention.

Offer to settle

PepsiCo has already offered to settle the case out of court in the wake of boycott calls, which have spread to global social media. However, the company is still insisting that the farmers stop using its registered variety of potato and surrender their existing stocks, or join its corporate farming programme which involves an exclusive buyback clause. The farmers are considering the offer. The case next comes up for hearing in an Ahmedabad civil court on June 12.

Farmers’ rights

While the company has invoked the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001 to claim infringement of its rights, farmers groups point out that the Act specifically allows the Indian farmer “to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act” so long as he does not sell “branded seed”.

Farmers groups have also demanded that the Centre intervene in the matter and bear the farmers’ legal costs.



Nitish Kumar, now in a supporting role





Nitish Kumar, now in a supporting role

Prime Minister Modi, the centre of the NDA campaign, makes inroads in Bihar

Varghese K George,

Allies in great form: Narendra Modi with Nitish Kumar at a recent rally in Araria district of Bihar.Ranjeet Kumar

Patna

Lallan Kumar, a farmer at Borva village in Darbhanga, is rooting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his list of reasons for doing so is long. “Electricity, roads, development..” He has also received ₹2,000 under a new relief scheme for farmers, an initiative of the PM. “It is good that Nitish Kumar joined hands with the BJP,” he says. “He and Modiji are unbeatable in combination.”

Mr. Lallan Kumar is a Kurmi, like Mr. Nitish Kumar, an Other Backward Class (OBC) caste with not more than 4% of Bihar’s population. Mr. Nitish Kumar labels his politics as “development with social justice”, the base of which is formed by aggregating numerous such OBC castes and Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs). That, along with the BJP’s strong upper caste base, and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Dalit support, makes the catchment area of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the State.

Mr. Nitish Kumar’s personality has been critical to the NDA’s rise. In 2005, the State had two Assembly elections. In the first, the NDA did not declare a CM candidate and the result was hung; in the second, Mr. Nitish Kumar was declared the CM candidate and the 15-year-old regime of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) ended.

In the first election, the OBCs and the EBCs feared a return of upper caste rule if the NDA won; in the second, they were assured that the rule would transfer from one OBC to another. That centrality of Mr. Nitish Kumar in the NDA could be under threat, as the underlying identity politics that compelled it, is in a flux. “We are all for Hindutva after all, no? And this is a Hindu-Muslim fight,” Mr. Lallan Kumar explained what excites him about Mr. Modi’s strident positioning on Pakistan. Mr. Modi and Mr. Nitish Kumar are equal reasons for his vote for the NDA this time.

Liquor ban fiasco

The CM of Bihar for 14 years now with a short break, Mr. Nitish Kumar has reached out to social groups beyond his own caste with a governance agenda. But the prohibition of liquor that he imposed in 2016 has toppled governance.

Bootlegging is rampant, and the police are hand in glove, according to multiple accounts from officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Even girl students are into it. They earn ₹150 to 200 per home delivery. Enterprising police officials have bought breath analysers with private money and go around checking for violators. Prohibition has created a massive underground network that is only expanding,” an official said. “The state in Bihar has limited capacity and now its entire capacity is being focussed on a single issue — enforcing prohibition,” said Shaibal Gupta, member-secretary of the Patna-based Asian Development Research Institute.

While prohibition has become a money-spinner for some, and the influential are not touched, the poor and the lower castes — Mr. Nitish Kumar’s political base — are facing all the brunt of the draconian law. The first convict under the prohibition law, a 45-year-old widow from an EBC caste, was sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Hindutva factor

“In Bihar’s subaltern politics, Lalu Prasad is an enabler and Nitish Kumar is a provider. The loyalty to enabler is stronger than it is to the provider,” points out Mr. Gupta. Mr. Nitish Kumar parted with the BJP ahead of the 2014 election, joined hands with Mr. Yadav in 2015 and then returned to the BJP. While his authenticity has been diminished due to frequent change of hearts, Mr. Nitish Kumar is also facing the reality of Hindu identity getting precedence for many members of the backward castes. “Religiosity among the OBCs and the EBCs is constantly rising,” says Shivanand Tewari, RJD leader and former Minister.

Mr. Nitish Kumar has, however, maintained a policy of zero tolerance towards communal provocation. Officials say there is always strict administrative action against those who incite communal tension. The Begusarai district administration took immediate action against BJP candidate Giriraj Singh for making allegedly insulting statements about Muslims this week. “Muslims may not vote for him this time, but he has not burnt the bridges with the community,” an official says.

The JD(U) and the BJP are contesting 17 seats each (Mr. Paswan’s LJP in six seats), suggesting parity, but Mr. Modi is the centre of the NDA campaign. Mr. Nitish Kumar has explained it away by stressing that this is a Lok Sabha election. But that is no guarantee that his primacy will return.



In Nandurbar, barges carry the vote





In Nandurbar, barges carry the vote

Some villages in Maharashtra lie across the Narmada, remote and inaccessible

Tanvi Arvind Deshpande

Tribal frontier: There are nine polling centres that can only be reached by barge. Special Arrangement Special Arrangement

Nandurbar

Nine polling centres in Maharashtra’sdistrict are gearing up for elections on April 29, although differently. These centres are located in the most inaccessible parts of the district, across the Narmada river waters in the Satpura mountain range. The district administration will be transporting electronic voting machines to the nine centres on barges, on the night before the polls, and then back.

The absence of government buildings in some hamlets of the region also pose a problem for the district administration, which has responded by setting up three makeshift polling booths in Dhankhedi, Mukhadi and Zapi villages of Akkalkuva taluka.

Sheds as booths

The square sheds fifteen metres long have been put up using tarpaulin sheets and bamboo, with tables and chairs for election officials, and a makeshift toilet. The EVM machines will be kept on the tables for voters to exercise their franchise.

Nandurbar district is at the northernmost tip of Maharashtra. The Lok Sabha constituency, which consists of six Assembly segments, is the first district on the State’s electoral rolls, and is reserved for Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates.

While Nandurbar city is like any other small town, much of the district’s rural area is backward in terms of infrastructure development, and is also drought-affected. The northern talukas of the district have the Satpura mountain range running through them. There are a large number of tribal hamlets located within the Satpuras.

The polling centres that can only be reached by barges are Manibhili, Chimalkhedi, Dhankhedi, Mukhadi, Dhaneri, Gaman, Bhadal, Potdya and Bhabri, in the Akkalkuva and Akrani talukas. They are located beyond the Narmada’s backwaters. Manibhili is the first village on Maharashtra’s voter rolls.

Two-day trek

Some villages were submerged by the Sardar Sarovar dam project, forcing tribals to migrate higher up. It takes up to two days to reach the villages on foot. The barges are the only convenient transport. But even in a barge, the journey may take three to four hours.

Anil Pawar, District Collector for the region, said, “Some of these [locations] are hamlets while some are revenue villages. The barges are their regular method of transportation as walking may take days. One has to cross mountains on foot to cross over to Nandurbar.”

The polling teams must submit the EVMs at the district office, no matter how late it gets on voting day.



Cashing in on the ‘Chhindwara model’





Cashing in on the ‘Chhindwara model’

Kamal Nath, a nine-time MP for the constituency, has passed the baton to his son

Sandeep Phukan
CHHINDWARA

Long before Kamal Nath became the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, supporters of the nine-time Lok Sabha member from Chhindwara talked of the Chhindwara model of development.

The Congress is synonymous with Mr. Nath here, and his son Nakul’s Lok Sabha candidature is being viewed as the passing of the baton to the next generation.

The BJP has fielded Natthan Shah, a tribal candidate, to take on the Chief Minister’s son. Though an unreserved seat, Chhindwara has a substantial tribal population, estimated to vary between 30% and 36%, and the BJP is hoping to break into Mr. Nath’s bastion.

Stories of Mr. Nath’s mission to put Chhindwara on the map of economic development are now folklore among the local people now, though many of them cannot be corroborated.

Apart from being Chhindwara being home to corporates such as Hindustan Unilever Ltd. and the Raymond Group, Mr. Nath is supposed to have leveraged every Union Ministry he has handled, whether Commerce and Industry or Road and Surface Transport, to get something for his constituency.

He is credited with having set up a cluster of skill-training institutes to enable employment for rural youth; the establishment of call centres; the building of a grid of four-laned highways connecting important centres such as Nagpur (125 km away); a model railway station; and even an air strip that is occasionally used to facilitate the movement of chartered aircraft.

The recent news of tax raids and alleged recovery of cash from the Chief Minister’s aides hardly made a difference to his supporters.

“Whether it is setting up a factory or building a new flyover, Kamal Nathji is the driving force,” said Santosh Verma, a dhaba owner at Chaurai, about 26 km from Chhindwara town. After 72-year-old Kamal Nath was made the Congress State president, the party won all the seven Assembly seats under the Chhindwara Lok Sabha constituency.

While the MLA for Chhindwara, Deepak Saxena, stepped down to make way for the CM to get himself elected to the Assembly, Mr. Nakul Nath has stepped into his father’s shoes.

At the district court complex, where the junior Nath was meeting lawyers, the impact of his father’s legacy could not be missed. A lawyer took him around the complex, advocates jostled for photographs and selfies, or just shook hands.

Yet, the Congress and the Chief Minister’s son had to defend their record on implementing the farm loan waiver promise.

“You must understand that the State government got merely 75 days before the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) kicked in. You must also remember that the first file that was signed was that for the farm loan waiver. It takes a day even if you do an RTGS [electronic mode of payment] and here we are talking about 50 lakh farmers,” Mr. Nakul Nath told The Hindu. “In those 75 days, we had we waived off loans of 22 lakh farmers in Madhya Pradesh and 61,000 farmers in Chhindwara district alone,” he added.

Asked to comment on the “Chhindwara model of development” that is associated with his father, Mr. Nakul had a readily available statistic. “You must remember, when my father became an MP in 1980, Chhindwara used to get water supply twice a week. Now, they have constant water supply as my father built the Machagora dam,” he said.

“Only 400 of the 2,000 villages had electricity. Today, every single village has power supply. And look at these roads. Is there any difference between Delhi or Mumbai [and Chhindwara],” asked the Congress candidate as he headed to his next public meeting.

The BJP, however, maintains that Chhindwara’s development is as much because of former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as it is about the local MP. Some of the party’s supporters say Mr. Nakul Nath would not have stood a chance if Mr. Chouhan had contested.

Chhindwara’s five-term corporator and BJP vice-president of the district Sanjay Pande, however, maintains the party will surprise the Congress. “Be it the Machagora dam or the Mansarovar complex or connectivity, Shivraj Singh Chouhan worked tirelessly. Even Natthan Shah can now defeat the Congress as people are angry over their false promises,” Mr. Pande says.



* Foreign

‘Lanka attacks could have been avoided’





‘Lanka attacks could have been avoided’

Gotabaya says govt. dismantled intelligence network; vows to run for President and rebuild agencies

Reuters

Back to normalcy: Sri Lankan Navy soldiers cleaning the St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo on Saturday. The shrine was one of the targets of the attacks.AFPLAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI

COLOMBO

Sri Lanka’s former wartime defence chief, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said on Friday he would run for President in elections this year and would stop the spread of Islamist extremism by rebuilding the intelligence service and surveilling citizens.

Mr. Gotabaya is the younger brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the two led the country to a crushing defeat of separatist Tamil rebels a decade ago after a 26-year civil war.

More than 250 people were killed in bomb attacks on hotels and churches on Easter Sunday that the government has blamed on Islamist militants and that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for.

Mr. Gotabaya said the attacks could have been prevented if the island’s current government had not dismantled the intelligence network and extensive surveillance capabilities that he built up during the war and later on.

“Because the government was not prepared, that’s why you see a panic situation,” he said in an interview. Mr. Gotabaya said he would be a candidate “100%”, firming up months of speculation that he plans to run in the elections, which are due by December.

Critical of government

He was critical of the government’s response to the bombings. Since the attacks, the government has struggled to provide clear information about how they were staged, who was behind them and how serious the threat is from the IS to the country.

“Various people are blaming various people, not giving exactly the details as to what happened, even people expect the names, what organisation did this, and how they came up to this level, that explanation was not given,” he said.

On Friday, President Maithripala Sirisena said the government led by premier Ranil Wickremesinghe should take responsibility for the attacks and that prior information warning of attacks was not shared with him.

Mr. Wickremesinghe said earlier he was not advised about warnings that came from India’s spy service either, presenting a picture of a government still in disarray since the two leaders fell out last October.

Mr. Gotabaya is facing lawsuits in the U.S., where he is a dual citizen, over his role in the war and afterwards.

He said that if he won, his immediate focus would to be tackle the threat from Islamist extremists and to rebuild the security set-up. “It’s a serious problem, you have to go deep into the groups, dismantle the networks,” he said, adding he would give the military a mandate to collect intelligence from the ground and to mount surveillance of groups turning to extremism.

Mr. Gotabaya said a military intelligence cell he had set up in 2011 of 5,000 people, some of them with Arabic language skills and that was tracking the bent towards extremist ideology some of the Islamist groups were taking in eastern Sri Lanka was disbanded by the current government.

“They did not give priority to national security, there was a mix-up. They were talking about ethnic reconciliation, then they were talking about human rights issues, they were talking about individual freedoms,” he said.



Lens on U.K. Home Office over treatment of Asian students





Lens on U.K. Home Office over treatment of Asian students

Their visas cancelled over charges of cheating during tests

Vidya Ram

Obstacle course: A woman carrying a bag with the ‘Welcome to U.K.’ tag at the visas and immigration office in London.APMatt Dunham

London

Britain’s Home Office is under investigation by the country’s spending watchdog over its treatment of thousands of students — from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh — who had their visas cancelled over allegations of cheating on English language tests that they had taken to come to the U.K.

The investigation follows years of warnings from campaigners that tens of thousands of students had been unjustly treated, after being mistakenly deemed to have cheated on their tests in a crackdown by the government that followed revelations of fraud at two testing centres.

While many have been deported, others have returned home voluntarily, unable or unwilling to contest the charges against them, while other have had their lives disrupted — and access to basic public services blocked — as they remained in the UK, attempting to appeal the decision taken against them. Around 34,000 students and entrepreneurs have been accused of cheating, and a further 22,000 had their results questioned.

‘Important step’

The National Audit Office (NAO) said in a statement that it was “looking at the information held by the Home Office on the number of people alleged to have cheated and the action the Home Office has taken to date”.

“This is an important step on the road to justice for thousands of innocent students,” said Nazek Ramadan, director of Migrant Voice, which has been working to support impacted students and has been working with the NAO over the past few months, including holding focus groups with impacted students.

“The Home Office’s handling of the issue has been spectacularly unfair and opaque, and it’s high time the truth was brought to light.”

“This is one of the biggest forgotten immigration scandals of [Theresa] May’s hostile environment policies,” said Zubaida Haque, deputy director of the Runnymede Trust, a race equality think tank, referring to the phrase used by the Prime Minister while she was still Home Secretary to describe the government’s approach to immigration. It had tried to drive net migration from the “hundreds of thousands” to the “tens of thousands.”

During a parliamentary debate last year, MPs called for an independent investigation, as well as an apology and potential compensation from the government, with many drawing a parallel between the situation and the controversy over the treatment of Commonwealth citizens, mostly from the Caribbean that has come to be known as the Windrush scandal.

For a number of years now, the Home Office has been taking foreign students, workers and others to court on fraud charges to obtain the English-language qualification to stay in the U.K. Since 2010, a number of institutions, including Educational Testing Services (ETS), an American company with many TOEIC centres, have been responsible for running exams — covering different levels of English language proficiency required by different types of visas — that were recognised by the U.K. government.

Evidence of fraud

In February 2014, a BBC Panorama investigation found evidence of fraud at an ETS centre, a trigger for the British government’s deportation programme.

Since then, thousands of people, who had gained their qualification via ETS centres across the U.K., were accused of fraud. The system used to determine whether fraud was committed has faced much criticism and challenges in courts. Campaigners say blanket decisions on questionable voice recognition software was used as the basis for the charge that proxies were used to take the test.



Army rulers, protesters to meet in joint panel in Sudan





Army rulers, protesters to meet in joint panel in Sudan

Agence France-presse

In unison: Protesters at a rally in Khartoum on Saturday. afp

khartoum

A joint committee representing Sudan’s military leadership and protesters will hold its first meeting on Saturday to discuss their demand for civilian rule.

Protest leaders have held several rounds of so far inconclusive talks with the ruling military council since the army toppled veteran President Omar al-Bashir on April 11 following four months of nationwide protests.

Earlier this week, the two sides agreed to set up a joint committee to chart the way forward.

The Alliance for Freedom and Change, which brings together grassroots organisers with opposition and rebel groups, has kept up mass protests for a return to civilian rule since Mr. Bashir’s overthrow after three decades in power.

“The joint committee with the military council will hold its first meeting on Saturday,” the AFC said.

Western governments have expressed support, but Sudan’s key Gulf Arab lenders have backed the military council, while African states have called for more time for the army to hand over to civilians.


* FAQ

Will closing LoC trade end terrorism?





Will closing LoC trade end terrorism?

With the government withdrawing a Kashmir-specific confidence building measure, are the chances for peace better or worse now?

Suhasini Haidar

The story so far: On April 18, the government announced suspension of trade from midnight at two designated points along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, citing concerns about “misuse” by elements from across the border to smuggle weapons, narcotics and fake currency. The Ministry of Home Affairs has said that cross-LoC trade will only be resumed after it puts in place stricter measures and systems. What does the suspension of trade mean for the two countries?

When did trade across LoC begin?

Trade across the LoC began in October 2008, as part of the Kashmir-specific confidence building measures (CBMs) that had been initiated by former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Dr. Manmohan Singh and former Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

The zero-duty trade of goods at the Uri trading point, along with the cross-LoC bus between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, was meant to “soften boundaries”, allowing people of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) to engage with one another more freely, and was soon followed by another trading point at Poonch connected to Rawalakot in PoK.

Why has trade been suspended?

Explaining the decision to suspend trade, sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs said the trade corridor was being misused by terrorists based in Pakistan, as a channel to smuggle arms, ammunition, narcotics, counterfeit currency and funds to support anti-India activities within Jammu and Kashmir. They also cited the illegal trade of goods from the United States, such as “California almonds”, while the cross-LoC system was meant exclusively for locally-sourced items. The government has alleged that 10 of the trading companies involved were run by Kashmiri militants who had crossed over to Pakistan. Officials referred to the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) ongoing case of terror-funding against the former president of the LoC Traders’ Association Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, who is charged with funding terror groups. Finally, the Ministry of Home Affairs said the route was now being used to facilitate non-Kashmiri trade, and that after India cancelled Pakistan’s MFN (most favoured nation) status in the wake of the Pulwama attack (February 2019), traders would likely misuse the route further to evade higher duties and taxes on goods.

How is cross-LoC trade different?

Business across the LoC is different because it works on a barter system between traders on both sides of Kashmir. So far, 21 goods has been approved for barter, which include handicrafts, saffron, mushrooms, fruit, cereals, honey, spices and carpets. Since the Line of Control is disputed between India and Pakistan and not recognised as an International Boundary (IB), the goods are referred to as ‘traded out’ and ‘traded-in’, instead of exports and imports. Also, unlike regular cross-border trade between India and Pakistan at the Wagah-Attari border, cross-LoC trade takes place only four days a week.

What will be the impact?

Since it began, experts estimate that more than ₹6,000 crore worth of trade has been conducted over the LoC points, and a total of 1.6 lakh job days created because of it. Starting from a mere three crore Pakistani rupees (PKR) worth of goods traded in and 2 crore Indian rupees (INR) worth of goods traded out in 2008-2009, the cross-LoC trade in 2018-2019 was pegged at 441 crore (PKR) and 454 crore (INR) respectively. According to a study by the Bureau of Research on Industry and Economic Fundamentals (BRIEF), about 662 traders from Jammu and Kashmir are registered to trade at both points at Uri and Poonch, of which about 110 of them trade actively. The affected traders says that with uncertainty over the reopening of the trade, their livelihoods will be in jeopardy, along with those of loaders, transporters, retailers who are part of their trade, as well as their families, totalling 40,000-50,000 people. Many political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir like Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have also protested against the move, given that the government has also severely curtailed civilian traffic on the main Srinagar-Jammu highway. This they say will lead to small- and medium-scale traders being squeezed at both ends, and result in heavy losses particularly for the fruit business; the State is renowned for its apples and cherry crops. Like on other issues, Jammu leaders like former Minister Prof. Chaman Lal Gupta said the trade had been run on an ad hoc basis, without adequate security measures, and must not be restarted in the prevailing circumstances.

Is this the first time this has happened?

In the past decade, trading at the Uri-Muzaffarabad (Chakan da bagh-Salamabad) post has been stopped thrice because of cases of narcotic smuggling, and once when a shipment of arms was seized during checks in 2017. According to the authorities, numerous seizures have been made recently of pistols, grenades, spares and ammunition, including one particularly large cache concealed in a consignment of bananas. The drug hauls have been sizeable too: in 2017, J&K police found 66.5 kg of suspected heroin worth ₹300 crore packed between boxes of garments in a truck that came from PoK, while five other seizures yielded nearly ₹1 crore in counterfeit notes. At the Poonch-Rawalakot point, trading has been suspended more frequently due to cross-LoC shelling, particularly between 2016 and 2018, when ceasefire violations rose sharply. Even so, the LoC trade was seen as one of the most resilient CBMs introduced more than a decade ago, as it had been able to continue despite major hostilities between New Delhi and Islamabad.

What lies in store?

Unlike cases in the past, the April suspension wasn’t due to any one particular incident but a series of investigations over the misuse of the cross-LoC trade service. As a result, resumption of trade is likely to be a more long-drawn out process. Traders have protested against some of the allegations levelled by the MHA, especially the case of the California almonds, which, they insist have not been traded since 2016. They have also asked why the government has been dragging its feet on the procurement of “truck body scanners” (which would ensure easy detection of contraband currency, drugs and arms) and save much time for traders who have to undergo lengthy manual searches. The case for full body truck scanners has been pending since 2010, when the government first agreed to install them.

After many false starts, the MHA and J&K announced they would complete the installation of the scanners by end 2017, but still have made no headway in the process yet. The MHA has said that cross-LoC trade will only be resumed after it puts in place stricter measures and systems, but has not specified what they may entail. It seems unlikely that the suspension will be lifted soon, especially given the security requirements during the ongoing general election and with State polls due later this year.




How is a Supreme Court judge to be probed?





How is a Supreme Court judge to be probed?

What is the mechanism in place to examine allegations of misconduct against members of the higher judiciary?

K. Venkataramanan

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The story so far: The allegations made by a former Supreme Court employee against the Chief Justice of India have brought the focus on the mechanism that exists to examine charges of misconduct against members of the higher judiciary. What exactly is the procedure involved and how was it devised?

How are allegations of misconduct against judges of High Courts and the Supreme Court dealt with?

Allegations of misconduct against serving judges of the superior judiciary, that is, the various high courts and the Supreme Court, are dealt with through an ‘in-house procedure’. Most complaints may pertain to judicial conduct, and may be at the behest of parties aggrieved by the outcome of their cases. However, some may concern the personal conduct of judges. Two purposes are served by the adoption of an internal procedure to deal with such complaints: when the allegations are examined by the judge’s peers, outside agencies are kept out, and the independence of the judiciary is maintained. Second, awareness about the existence of a mechanism to examine such complaints will preserve the faith of the people in the impartiality and independence of the judicial process. The in-house procedure envisages that false and frivolous allegations can be rejected at an early stage and only those that are not baseless, and may require a deeper probe, are taken up for inquiry.

What is the origin of the ‘in-house’ procedure?

The idea of self-regulation as a method by which allegations of misconduct against judges can be approached came up first in a 1995 case concerning the then Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court. The Chief Justice resigned amidst an uproar caused by reports that he had been paid unjustifiably high amounts by a publisher. In a case relating to this allegation, the Supreme Court outlined the procedure that may be adopted in such situations. Until then, misconduct on the part of superior court judges was perceived as something that only Parliament could deal with through the procedure for removal of judges given in the Constitution. However, the court made a distinction between ‘impeachable behaviour’ and bad behaviour. Later, in 1997, when Justice J.S. Verma took over as Chief Justice of India, he took up the issue. He circulated a document titled ‘Restatement of Values of Judicial Life’, a guide containing the essential elements of ideal behaviour for judges so that their independence and impartiality are beyond reproach. The Full Court passed a resolution that an ‘in-house procedure’ would be adopted for action against judges for acts of commission or omission that go against accepted values of judicial life.

When was the in-house procedure adopted?

A five-judge committee was formed to devise the procedure. The report of the committee was adopted by a resolution of the Full Court on December 15, 1999. This procedure has been adhered to since then. However, the in-house procedure was not in the public domain for many years. In 2014, a Supreme Court Bench directed the court’s registry to make the in-house procedure public for the sake of transparency. The court was then dealing with a serious allegation made by a woman district and sessions court judge that she faced harassment from a sitting judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

How does the in-house procedure work? What are the various steps?

When a complaint is received against a High Court judge, the Chief Justice concerned has to examine it. If it is frivolous or concerns a judicial matter, she may just file the complaint and inform the Chief Justice of India. If she considers it serious, she should get a response from the judge concerned. If she is satisfied with the response and feels no further action is required, she may close the matter and keep the CJI informed. However, if the CJI feels a deeper probe is needed, she should send the complaint as well as the judge’s response to the CJI, with her own comments, for further action.

The procedure is the same if the CJI receives the complaint directly. The comments of the high court Chief Justice, the judge concerned and the complaint would be considered by the CJI. If a deeper probe is required, a three-member committee, comprising two Chief Justices from other High Courts and one High Court judge, has to be formed. The committee will hold a fact-finding inquiry at which the judge concerned would be entitled to appear. It is not a formal judicial proceeding and does not involve lawyers or examination or cross-examination of witnesses.

If the charge is against a high court Chief Justice, the same procedure of getting the person’s response is followed by the CJI. If a deeper probe is deemed necessary, a three-member committee comprising a Supreme Court judge and two Chief Justices of other High Courts will be formed.

If the charge is against a Supreme Court judge, the committee would comprise three Supreme Court judges. There is no separate provision in the in-house procedure to deal with complaints against the CJI.

What are the possible outcomes from the inquiry committee?

If it finds that there is substance in the allegations, the committee can either hold that the misconduct is serious enough to warrant removal from office, or that it is not so serious as to warrant removal. In the former case, it will call for initiation of proceedings to remove the judge. The judge concerned would be advised to resign or take voluntary retirement. If the judge is unwilling to quit, the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned would be advised to withdraw judicial work from him, and the President of India and the Prime Minister would be informed of the situation. Such an action may clear the way for Parliament to begin the political process for impeachment. In case, the committee finds substance in the allegation, but it is not grave enough to warrant removal from office, the judge concerned would be advised accordingly, and the committee’s report will be placed on record.



Tussle over VAR





Tussle over VAR

Has introducing a Video Assistant Referee in football matches solved or increased on-field bickering?

N. Sudarshan

AFP/ap/ap

AFP/ap/ap

AFP/ap/ap

The story so far: The Video Assistant Referee (VAR), a system of using video replays to assist on-field decision-making in football, was formally approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body which defines the rules of the game, back in 2016. Since then, it has been used in competitions in Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia and the U.S. It was seen for the first time in a FIFA competition at the 2017 Confederations Cup before being deployed at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. It made its much-awaited debut in the UEFA Champions League this year, and true to form, was not without controversy. In the marquee quarterfinal clash between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, two game-changing decisions were made after intervention by VAR. Fernando Llorente’s winner for Tottenham was allowed to stand following a review but Raheem Sterling’s goal, in the dying moments of the tie, which could have sent City through, was cancelled.

How does it work?

The use of VAR is limited to four situations — whether a goal should stand or be ruled out because of potential violations, penalties, straight red cards and cases of mistaken identity. A VAR team will communicate with the on-field referee when it spots a “clear” error. Alternatively, the referee may ask for a review himself and receive input to make an objective decision (like an offside call) or choose to watch the footage of the incident on a screen by the side of the pitch before arriving at a subjective decision (like judging a foul).

Has it improved decision-making?

Thus far it has been a mixed bag for VAR, though recent evidence suggests that it is moving in the right direction. In the recent Champions League knock-out matches, the system did succeed in eliminating the apparent mistakes. Marcus Rashford’s dramatic stoppage-time penalty for Manchester United away at Paris Saint-Germain was awarded only after a VAR review. In Real Madrid’s match against Ajax in Amsterdam, the referee disallowed Nicolas Tagliafico’s goal for the hosts after determining that Dusan Tadic was offside.

Have the critics been won over?

Not entirely, though they seem to finally see the point in its introduction. Two of the biggest concerns when VAR was first adopted were that it would affect the flow of the game with its repeated interruptions and that it would eliminate the “human feeling” of the sport by undermining the referee’s authority. The criticism regarding the tempo of play did have some merit. In an FA Cup tie between Tottenham and Rochdale in London in early 2018, there were as many as 10 reviews, each lasting nearly a minute, while fans and players waited for the decisions. To address such a scenario, UEFA, in the Champions League, has ensured that the replays which the referee will see through the VAR monitor will also be broadcast, so that both fans and players can be part of the experience. UEFA’s Twitter account even explained why Ajax’s goal against Madrid was ruled out. In the trade-off between the number of disruptions and the correct decision being made, it is easy to see to which side the balance will tilt.

But the argument that with VAR, the human feeling is lost isn’t entirely tenable. VAR only serves as a recommendation tool for the referee, who must still always make the final decision. Unlike cricket, the technology isn’t in the hands of the players. So it cannot be used as a tactical tool to slow the game down. In fact, players who goad the referee to use VAR will receive a yellow card. A good experienced referee will mostly follow the ‘minimum interference-maximum benefit’ doctrine, thus resulting in fewer stoppages. Another upshot is that VAR works on the ‘justice for all’ principle as against ‘justice for some’ like in cricket and tennis where technology is pretty useless once players exhaust the fixed number of reviews.

What lies ahead?

It has to be accepted that VAR isn’t an exact science. A few decisions will remain debatable even after technological intervention. For example, in the Llorente goal discussed above, the ball appeared to brush his arm, but the referee made the subjective call that it was unintentional and did not hand undue advantage. There have also been instances where handballs have been decided with slow-motion replays, like in the last World Cup final between France and Croatia, which made the act of handling look worse than it actually was. All of this means the system needs constant refining. If it is also accompanied by a behavioural shift on the part of players, so that they do not dive for a penalty or appeal for a non-existent handball, it will be the best of both worlds.


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