Polygamy no longer progressive
The Ministry of Law and Justice submits in the Supreme Court that the practice of triple talaq and polygamy are needed to be adjudicated upon afresh by the apex court.
Polygamy may have been “progressive and path-breaking” centuries ago, but not now when women and notions of gender justice have evolved, the Centre told the Supreme Court recently.
If Muslim countries, where Islam is the State religion, have disregarded polygamy and triple talaq, why should India, a secular country, continue to deny Muslim women their rights under the Constitution, the Centre asked.
It said that there was no legal bar against abolishing polygamy and triple talaq, given the “march of time and the need for social reform”.
“It may be true that only some women are directly affected by a polygamous marriage, but the fact remains that every woman to whom the law applies lives under the fear, threat or prospect of being subject to these practices, which impacts her confidence and dignity,” the Centre said in an affidavit.
‘Undesirable cannot be essential’
The government listed names of “theocratic States”, which Pakistan at the top, followed by Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Iran, who have “regulated” their divorce law and polygamy in order to show that these are not “essential religious practices” that are beyond reform.
The government was responding to a nearly 70-page affidavit filed by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) in the Supreme Court. The Muslim body had strongly batted in support of the unilateral right of Muslim men to pronounce oral divorce through triple talaq, saying that as men, they were better at controlling their emotions, unlike women. The Board has also said that polygamy prevents illicit sex and protects women.
The government pointed to how the AIMPLB had also referred to triple talaq and polygamy in the Supreme Court as “undesirable”. The Board had told the SC that though practices like triple talaq and polygamy were “undesirable”, their hands were tied because the Sharia permitted these practices.
“No undesirable practice can be elevated to the status of an essential religious practice,” the Centre countered the Board.
Concern for women
It said “any practice that leaves women socially, financially or emotionally vulnerable or subject to the whims and caprice of menfolk is incompatible with the letter and spirit of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution”.
The government said Muslim women, merely by virtue of their religious identity and the religion they profess, cannot be relegated to a status more vulnerable than women of other religious faiths.
The Centre sought the Supreme Court to answer “whether in a secular democracy, religion can be a reason to deny the equal status and dignity available to women under the Constitution of India”.
“Behind the preservation of personal was the preservation of plurality and diversity among the people of India. The question arises as to whether the preservation of such diverse identities can be a pretext for denying to women the status and gender equality they are entitled to as citizens,” the Centre said.
Hindu son can divorce wife if she tries to separate him from aged parents
A Hindu son can divorce his wife for the cruelty of trying to pry him away from his “pious obligation” to live with his aged parents and provide shelter to them, the Supreme Court has held.
A woman becomes a part of the husband’s family and cannot seek to separate him from his parents for the sole reason that she wants to entirely enjoy his income, a Bench of Justices Anil R. Dave and L. Nageshwara Rao observed in a judgment.
Insisting her husband to live separately from his parents is a western thought alien to our culture and ethos, Justice Dave, who wrote the judgment, said.
“It is not a common practice or desirable culture for a Hindu son in India to get separated from his parents on getting married at the instance of the wife, especially when the son is the only earning member in the family. A son, brought up and given education by his parents, has a moral and legal obligation to take care and maintain the parents, when they become old and when they have either no income or have a meagre income,” Justice Dave wrote.
In India, generally people do not subscribe to the western thought, where, upon getting married or attaining majority, the son gets separated from the family, the court said. In normal circumstances, a wife is expected to be with the family of the husband after the marriage.
“She becomes integral to and forms part of the family of the husband and normally without any justifiable strong reason, she would never insist that her husband should get separated from the family and live only with her,” Justice Dave observed.
The court was confirming the divorce of a Karnataka-based couple in a recent judgment. Married in 1992, the lower court granted the husband divorce after he alleged cruelty on his wife’s part. He quoted instances of her constant suspicions about him having illegal affairs with a maid. It was later found that no such maid as described by the wife ever worked in the couple’s home
In another instance, the apex court found that the wife had attempted to commit suicide but was rescued in the nick of time. She wanted to separate the man from his parents who were dependent on his income.
However, the High Court had set aside the decree of divorce, saying the wife had a “legitimate expectation” to see her husband’s income used for her and not his family members.
Shuddering at the thought of the legal tangles in which the “poor husband” would have found himself caught in had she succeeded in committing suicide, the Supreme Court concluded: “The mere idea with regard to facing legal consequences would put a husband under tremendous stress.”
Indo-Pak. border will be sealed by 2018
Amid rising tensions between India and Pakistan following the surgical strikes across the Line of Control, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh recently said the entire stretch of 3,323-km-long border between the two countries would be “completely sealed” by December 2018, for which a time-bound action plan would be formulated.
Remittances to India to decline by five per cent in 2016: World Bank
India, the world’s largest remittance recipient in 2015, may receive a remittance of USD 65.5 billion this year, a drop of 5 per cent, the World Bank has said in a new report.
“In 2016, remittance flows are expected to decline by 5 per cent in India and 3.5 per cent in Bangladesh, whereas they are expected to grow by 5.1 per cent in Pakistan and 1.6 per cent in Sri Lanka,” the World Bank said in a latest report on remittances.
Despite the drop, India is likely to top the list of countries receiving remittance.
The World Bank said in 2016, India is expected to receive a remittance of USD 65.5 billion, followed by China (USD 65.2 billion). Pakistan positioned at number five is estimated to receive USD 20.3 billion in 2016.
The World Bank said remittances to South Asia is expected to decline by 2.3 per cent in 2016, following a 1.6 per cent decline in 2015.
Weak economic growth
This is attributed mainly due to weak economic growth in remittances-source countries and cyclic low oil prices.
India retained its top spot in 2015, attracting about USD 69 billion in remittances, the World Bank had said.
Remittances from the GCC countries continued to decline due to lower oil prices and labour market ‘nationalisation’ policies in Saudi Arabia.
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is an alliance of six Middle Eastern countries-Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Colombian President
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 has been awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his efforts to end his country’s 50-year civil war.
Mr Santos negotiated a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) guerrilla group but the peace deal was rejected by a narrow majority of Colombians when it was put to referendum.
“The award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process,” said a statement by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Adoption of GST poised to boost India’s medium-term growth: IMF
Asserting that India has shown that progress on reforms could “ignite” business investment, the IMF today said the adoption of goods and services tax is poised to boost the country’s medium—term growth.
“India’s strong reform push in 2016 is welcome and should continue apace. Adoption of the goods and services tax is poised to boost India’s medium-term growth,” the IMF said in its latest Asia Pacific regional economic update.
Greater labour market flexibility and product market competition remain essential to create jobs and raise growth.
Priorities also include effective implementation of the new corporate debt restructuring mechanisms, it said.
“As shown by India, progress on reforms could ignite business investment (including already strong FDI inflows), further boosting domestic demand,” the IMF said.
Over the medium term, a number of Asian economies stand to benefit from a demographic dividend, as the working-age population in some economies like India and Indonesia continues to grow, potentially helping sustain strong potential growth.
In its report, the IMF said India’s GDP growth is projected at 7.6 per cent in both 2016/17 fiscal year (ending in March 2017) and 2017/18 fiscal year, up 0.1 percentage point relative to the April 2016 World Economic Outlook, a survey conducted and published by the IMF.
The ongoing growth recovery remains braced by private consumption, it said.
“Monsoon rainfall coming in at normal levels bodes well for agriculture and, along with a decennial rise in government employee salaries, will underpin the ongoing recovery in domestic demand,” the IMF report said.
“Further progress on reforms will boost sentiment, and the incipient recovery of private investment is expected to help broaden the sources of growth amid gradual fiscal consolidation and broadly neutral monetary policy,” it said.
“Medium-term growth has also been revised upward reflecting continued progress on structural reforms (constitutional amendment enabling implementation of the national goods and services tax, adoption of inflation targets, and removal of foreign direct investment (FDI) ceilings),” the report said.
The IMF said India’s growth has continued to benefit from the large improvement in the terms of trade, positive policy actions, including implementation of key structural reforms, gradual reduction of supply-side constraints, and a rebound in confidence.
Consumption growth has remained strong and activity in core industrial sectors has picked up. Government consumption is set to continue to support growth in 2016, it noted.
According to the report, in China, GDP growth is projected to remain relatively strong in the near term, helped by the fiscal stimulus on infrastructure spending. Overall, growth is projected to be 6.6 per cent in 2016 and 6.2 per cent in 2017 (0.1 percentage point higher for 2016 relative to the April 2016 WEO), reflecting fiscal stimulus and credit support.
Both consumption and investment growth have been revised upward, while the contribution of net exports has been revised downward, as import growth is expected to accelerate amid stronger domestic demand.
Medium-term growth has been revised down to 5.8 per cent from 6.2 per cent, reflecting rising vulnerabilities and slower progress on reining in credit growth and on state-owned-enterprise reform, it said.
Payments banks need RBI’s prior product approval
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently said the entities that had been granted a payments bank (PB) licence would need to take specific approval for the products they would be offering to customers.
“At the time of submitting application for licence, the PBs should submit to RBI a list of financial products they intend to offer with a clear description,” the banking regulator said in the operational guidelines.
Banks do not need to take prior RBI approval to launch products but prepaid payment instruments issuers need to take such approval to offer payments products.
All new products proposed to be introduced thereafter should be intimated to RBI for information, it said. “If required, the RBI may place suitable restrictions on the design, functioning, or other features of the product including discontinuing the product,” RBI said.
There will be innovations as well as investment. So it is better to take prior approval rather than rolling it back after offering to customers if the regulator is not convinced about the product,.
RBI also said the annual plans for opening of physical access points by the PBs for the initial five years would need prior approval of the RBI. “The first such plan shall be submitted to RBI before commencement of business,” it said.
Payments banks are not allowed to lend. Their main mandate is to offer remittance services. They can also offer simple financial products like insurance and mutual funds.
The regulator also mandated that an employee of the PB should be available for sufficient duration, at a fixed location known to the customers at the district level, to attend to customer grievances and support agent supervision. This fixed location will be considered while assessing the requirement of opening at least 25 per cent physical access points in rural centres, RBI clarified.
In the operational guidelines on small finance banks, RBI clarified such entities are required to have 25 per cent of their branches in un-banked rural centres within one year from the date of commencement of operations.
Both payments banks and small finance banks have been allowed electronic authentication and confirmation for opening accounts and wet signatures have not been made mandatory.
RBI had granted in-principle licences to 11 payments banks and 10 small finance banks last year. While three out of 11 PBs have dropped out, others will have to start operations within 18 months of receiving in-principle approval. One small finance bank has already started operation, while two others have received the final licence.
Centre plans to set up Board of Internal Trade
The Commerce and Industry Ministry will consider a proposal put forward by traders for setting up a Board of Internal Trade to address all the issues pertaining to domestic trade. The ministry will look into the Confederation of All India Traders’ suggestion for constituting a Board of Internal Trade because in a large and diverse market like India, internal trade has several issues that will need special attention. The government, through such a Board, will benefit from getting alerts about the problems being faced by the domestic industry