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Order comes amid caution by govt. to exercise restraint on observations on J&K

Holidays continue: No student turned up at this school in Srinagar when it was reopened on Wednesday. NISSAR AHMAD

The Supreme Court on Wednesday referred to a five-judge Bench several petitions challenging the withdrawal of Article 370 and bifurcation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

A Presidential Order on August 5 had withdrawn Article 370, through which special rights and privileges had been accorded to the people of Jammu and Kashmir since 1954 in accordance with the Instrument of Accession.

“Let all the petitions on the Article 370 issue go to a five-judge Bench for hearing,” Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, heading a three-judge Bench, said.

The order came amidst fervent prayers by the government, represented by Attorney General K.K. Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, to exercise restraint as far as orders and oral observations on J&K were concerned.

“The Article 370 issue has international and cross-border implications. Whatever statements made here are sent to the United Nations,” Mr. Venugopal seemed to caution.

“Does this mean the Supreme Court cannot do its duty?” senior advocate Ashwani Kumar, for one of the petitioners, asked Mr. Venugopal. “We know our duties,” CJI Gogoi told the lawyers in a clipped manner.

The CJI also indicated that the Constitution Bench may start hearing the matter from the beginning of October. The court also issued notice to the government on the basis of several petitions challenging media restrictions in J&K.

Home Minister gives call for a robust forensic set-up

Amit Shah

The age of third-degree torture was over and the police should stay a step ahead of crime and “criminal-minded people” through better investigation and forensic evidence, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Wednesday

He was speaking at the 50th foundation day of the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), a think-tank under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Mr. Shah said old police concepts should be revived for investigation and mere “reliance on phone tapping” was not going to yield results. He stressed on need for a robust forensic set-up that would make it impossible for criminals to escape the clutches of law.

“Modernisation plan for police forces should be made for at least 10 years... This is not an age of third- degree [torture], police should stay ahead of crime and criminal-minded people,” Mr. Shah said.

Local sourcing norms for single brand retail diluted

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday announced a number of decisions designed to attract increased foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country, including easing local sourcing norms for single-brand retail companies.

Currently, the FDI policy says that a single-brand retail company with more than 51% FDI needs to source 30% of its goods from within India. The new decision says that this 30% can be calculated over the first five years of operation.

Further, sourcing for exports will also count towards the local sourcing requirement, the government said. The government also updated the FDI policy in keeping with prevalent business practices, it said.

“With a view to provide greater flexibility and ease of operations to SBRT (single brand retail trade) entities, it has been decided that all procurements made from India by the SBRT entity for that single brand shall be counted towards local sourcing, irrespective of whether the goods procured are sold in India or exported,” the government said in a release.

The current FDI policy provides for 100% FDI under the automatic route in the manufacturing sector. There was no specific provision for contract manufacturing in the policy.

It has now decided to allow 100% FDI under the automatic route in contract manufacturing in India as well.

With no documents to prove their age, Kakra residents get January 1 as default date on Aadhaar card

“I think I am 30,” says Kallo Adiwasi who, according to her crisp Aadhaar card, is 39, and going by her tattered black-and-white voter ID, 49.

But there’s one thing that this member of the vulnerable Saharia tribe shares with other residents of Kakra village in Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri district: the date and the month of birth mentioned on the Aadhaar card — January 1.

Young or old, male or female, in fact, anyone without a proof of date of birth has been shown to be born on January 1.

“I like to tell people I am 25 in order to seem younger,” says Ashok Adiwasi, born on January 1, 1985, as per his card. “We don’t have a system of recording birthdays. I don’t even know when I was born. How does it matter anyway? We don’t celebrate birthdays.”

Jagaram, Maho, Puran, Asarapi, Radha and Jasodi and several other villagers share the same birthday. Even Ajuddi Adiwasi, purportedly 84, shares his birthday with Kallon Adiwasi, now four.

According to the policy of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), tasked with enrolling citizens under the programme, if an individual is unable to produce a proof of birth at the time of registration, they can declare it without supporting documents. In case they don’t remember the date, merely stating the age will do.

Official’s decision

In 2016, at Jakhanod village, when it was Ramadullhari Adiwasi’s turn at a registration camp, she was left stammering when she was asked her age.

“The official scanned me from top to bottom and declared that I was 39,” she says, flashing her card that shows January 1, 1977, as her date of birth.

Back in Kakra, Udaysingh Adiwasi’s date of birth on his Aadhaar card is January 1, 2004, which makes him 15. Yet, he holds a voter identity card which gives his birth year as 2000. When asked about the discrepancy, he says, “Wait, I’ll get my other Aadhaar card. It has yet another date of birth.”

In 2017, news reports claimed that nearly all residents of a tribal-dominated village in Hardwar in Uttarakhand were born on January 1 as per their Aadhaar cards. The UIDAI had clarified that as per its policy, if a person was only able to declare his or her age during enrolment, the system by default takes January 1 of that year as the date of birth.

ILLUSTRATION: DEEPAK HARICHANDAN

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