A bench comprising of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice J.K. Maheshwari in the recent judgment titled Gangadhar Narayan Nayak @ Gangadhar Hiregutti V. State of Karnataka & Ors. having Crl. Appeal No. 451 of 2022 delivered on 21.03.2022 gave a split verdict as to whether Section 155(2) of the Cr.P.C. applies to the investigation of an offence under Section 23 of POCSO Act or whether the Court is obliged to discharge the accused under Section 227 of the Cr.P.C. because of want of permission of the jurisdictional Magistrate to the police to investigate into the offence. The Bench further gave differentiating opinions on whether Section 19 of the POCSO Act has overriding effect to the provisions of Cr.P.C.
The Appellant was the editor of Karavali Munjavu Newspaper in which a news was reported on or about 27th October 2017 naming the 16 year old victim of sexual harassment. After getting to know about this violation against disclosure of the name of the victim, the victim’s mother lodged a complaint on 30th October 2017 against the Appellant under Section 23 of POCSO in the Siddapur Police Station. The Police after its investigation filed the Final Report (Chargesheet) under Section 173 of the Cr.P.C. on 31st December 2017 after which the Court of the Ld. Principal District Judge, Uttar Kannada, Karwar, took cognizance of the offence. Thereafter, an application for discharge was filed by the Appellant under Section 227 of the Cr.P.C. on the premise that the investigation carried out by the Police was ultra vires since as per the mandate of Section 155(2), the police cannot investigate a matter without procuring an order from the Magistrate. The discharge application was dismissed by the Ld. Trial Court, against which a Quashing Petition was filed by the Appellant under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. before the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka. That the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka vide Judgement dated 17.09.2021 refused to exercise it’s inherent jurisdiction under section 482 of Cr.P.C. and dismissed the Quashing Petition of the Appellant on the ground that the non obstante provision of Section 19 of POCSO overrides the provisions of the Cr.P.C., including Section 155. Hence the present appeal was preferred by the Appellant in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
That vide the Judgement dated 21.03.2022, the Division Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court delivered a split verdict wherein Justice Indira Banerjee refused to entertain the Appeal thereby upholding the Order of the Hon’ble High Court whereas on the other hand, Justice J.K. Maheshwari gave a dissenting Judgement by allowing the Appeal and setting aside the Order taking cognizance and consequential orders passed by the Trial Court as well as the Impugned Order of the Hon’ble High Court.
In order to understand the contrary point of view taken by the Division Bench in the present case, it is essential that both the judgments are analysed separately.
JUSTICE INDIRA BANERJEE’S JUDGEMENT
Justice Indira Banerjee sets the field in para 1, “This appeal is against a judgment and order dated 17 September 2021 passed by the Dharwad Bench of the High Court of Karnataka, dismissing Criminal Petition No.
101420/2020 filed by the Appellant under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (hereinafter referred to as “the Cr.P.C.”), and upholding an order dated 19 April 2018 passed by the Principal District Judge, Uttar Kannada, Karwar, taking cognizance against the Appellant of offence under Section 23 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (hereinafter referred to as “POCSO”).”
To make it easy to understand the case, the issues are puts forth in para 2, “The short question of law involved in this appeal is, whether Section 155(2) of the Cr.P.C. applies to the investigation of an offence under Section 23 of POCSO? Is the Special Court debarred from taking cognizance of an offence under Section 23 of POCSO and obliged to discharge the accused under Section 227 of the Cr.P.C., only because of want of permission of the jurisdictional Magistrate to the police, to investigate into the offence? ”
After hearing the arguments from both sides, Justice Banerjee then puts forth in para 33, “On a combined reading of Sections 4(1) and (2) with Section 5 of the Cr.P.C., all offences under the IPC are to be investigated into, tried or otherwise dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Cr.P.C. and all offences under any other law are to be investigated, inquired into, tried or otherwise dealt with, according to the same provisions of the Cr.P.C., subject to any enactment for the time being in force, regulating the manner of investigating, inquiring into, trying or otherwise dealing with such offences.”
As we see, Justice Banerjee then mentions in para 35 that, “The language and tenor of Section 19 of POCSO and subsections thereof makes it absolutely clear that the said Section does not exclude offence under Section 23 of POCSO. This is patently clear from the language and tenor of Section 19(1), which reads “…. any person who has apprehension that an offence under this Act is likely to be committed or has knowledge that such an offence has been committed……”. The expression “offence” in Section 19 of POCSO would include all offences under POCSO including offence under Section 23 of POCSO of publication of a news report, disclosing the identity of a child victim of sexual assault. ”
Furthermore, Justice Banerjee then reveals in para 36 that, “Moreover, sub section (5) of Section 19 of POCSO provides that where the Special Juvenile Police Unit or local police is satisfied that the child against whom an offence has been committed, is in need of care and protection it shall, after recording reasons in writing, make immediate arrangements to give the child such care and protection including admitting the child into a shelter home or hospital within 24 hours of the report. Action under sub-section (5) of Section 19 of POCSO has to be taken with utmost expedition. Such action obviously involves investigation into whether an offence has been committed and whether the child requires special care.”
Needless to say, Justice Banerjee then reveals in para 37 that, “Sub-section (6) of Section 19 of POCSO requires the Special Juvenile Police Unit or local police, as the case may be, to report information to the Child Welfare
Committee and the Special Court or where no Special Court has been designated to the Court of Sessions without unnecessary delay, within 24 hours from the receipt of information.”
To put things in perspective Justice Banerjee then envisages in para 39 that, “It is well settled that legislative intent is to be construed from the words used in the statute, as per their plain meaning. Had Legislature intended that the Cr.P.C. should apply to investigation of an offence under Section 23 of POCSO, would specifically have provided so. The expression “investigation” would, as in Section 4(1) or (2) of the Cr.P.C., have expressly been incorporated in Section 31 or Section 33(9) or elsewhere in POCSO.”
Most significantly, Justice Banerjee then hastens to add in para 44 that, “The entire object of provisions such as Section 228A of the IPC, 327(2) of the Cr.P.C., Section 74 of the JJ Act and Section 23 of POCSO is to prevent disclosure of the identity of the victim. The identity of the victim should not be discernible from any matter published in the media.”
While rejecting the case law relied upon by the Appellant, Justice Banerjee then expounds in para 55 that, “The judgment of this Court in Keshav Lal Thakur is clearly distinguishable, in that this Court was dealing with investigation into an offence under Section 31 of the Representation of People Act, 1950. The Representation of People Act, 1950 does not contain any provision regulating the manner or place of investigation, or inquiry into any crime, or otherwise dealing with any offence under the said Act.”
As a corollary, Justice Banerjee then hastens to add in para 57 that, “Mr. Kamat’s argument that Section 19 of POCSO does not include offence under Section 23 of POCSO is unsustainable in law and not supported by any cogent reasons.” Justice Banerjee further went to explain in para 57 “As observed above, the words “offence under this Act” in Section 19(1) of POCSO makes it clear that Section 19 includes all offences under POCSO including offence under Section 23 of POCSO. It is reiterated at the cost of repetition that a child against whom offence under Section 23 of POCSO has been committed, by disclosure of her identity, may require special protection, care and even shelter, necessitating expeditious investigation for compliance of sub-sections (5) and (6) of Section 19 of POSCO.”
Finally, Justice Banerjee then concludes by holding in para 59 that, “For the reasons discussed above, I do not find any infirmity with the impugned judgment and order of the High Court which calls for interference by this Court. The appeal is, accordingly, dismissed. ”
JUSTICE J.K. MAHESHWARI’S JUDGEMENT
To start with the dissenting judgment delivered by Justice Maheshwari, he sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in para 62 that, “The facts as succinctly stated in the order and on perusal of those, the first core
question that arises is that “In absence of any classification provided in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2021 (in short POCSO Act) regarding offences being cognizable or non-cognizable, can all the offences under the Act may be categorized as cognizable in view of the non-obstante clause specified under Section 19 of POCSO Act?”. The another question is “Whether Section 19 of the POCSO Act have overriding effect to the provisions of Cr.P.C., in particular Chapter 12 titled as ‘Information to the police and their powers to investigate’ in the context of the provision of Section 4 and 5 of Cr.P.C.?”. The last question is “In the case at hand, by virtue of mandate of Section 4(2) of Cr.P.C., in absence of having any provision in
Special Enactment i.e. POCSO Act for investigation, to try an offence under Section 23 of POCSO Act, the mandate of Section 155(2) of Cr.P.C. shall be required to be followed ? ”
To put things in perspective, Justice Maheshwari then envisages in para 68 that, “the provisions of Cr.P.C. would not tinker with the provisions of special enactment and they are saved to such extent as specified in Section 5 of Cr.P.C. and would be applicable as per Section 4(2) of the Cr.P.C. ”
Most remarkably, Justice Maheshwari then clearly points out in para 70 that, “Looking to the language of Section 19, it does not specify all the offences under the POCSO Act are cognizable. Simultaneously either Section 19 or other provisions of the POCSO Act also do not specify how and in what manner the investigation on reporting of commission of offence under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of POCSO Act be made by the police. Indeed, looking to the language of Section 19, it is true that the provisions of the POCSO Act override the provisions of Cr.P.C. being special enactment only to the extent of having corresponding provision. But POCSO Act does not specify how and in what manner the investigation on reporting of the offences ought to be made. In contrast, Chapter XII of Cr.P.C. deals with investigation also after receiving information in a cognizable or non-cognizable offences. ”
Justice Maheshwari further went to explain in para 70 that “Thus, in absence of having any procedure for investigation under the POCSO Act, either for cognizable or non-cognizable offences, as mandated by sub-section (2) of Section 4 of Cr.P.C., the procedure prescribed in Cr.P.C. ought to be followed in the matter of investigation enquiring into and trial. Section (5) of Cr.P.C. is a saving clause by which the procedure prescribed in the special enactment will prevail otherwise in absence of the provision and the procedure specified in Cr.P.C. may be applicable. ”
While rejecting the case law relied upon by the Counsel for Respondents, Justice Maheshwari then expounds in para 74 that, “Thus, as per the discussion made hereinabove, it is to conclude that the Delhi High Court’s judgment of Santosh Kumar Mandal (supra) deals with an offence of Section 12 wherein maximum sentence prescribed was extendable up to 3 years, however the said offence was found cognizable. It is to state that the observation made in the said judgment that all offences under POCSO Act are cognizable, is in my humble opinion not justified without taking note of the provisions of Cr.P.C.”
Justice Maheshwari further went to explain in para 74 that, “It is clarified, Section 19 of the POCSO Act overrides the provisions of Cr.P.C. only to the extent of reporting the matters to the police or SJPU and other ancillary points so specified in Section 19.”
Needless to say, Justice Maheshwari then plainly puts forth in para 75 that, “the offence under Section 23 is non-cognizable and Section 19 or other provisions of POCSO Act do not confer power for investigation except to specify the manner of reporting the offence. However, as concluded as per sub-section 2 of Section 4 and applying Section 5 savings clause of Cr.P.C., in absence of having any provision in special enactment, the Cr.P.C. would apply.”
Furthermore, Justice Maheshwari then discloses in para 76 that, “the language of Section 155(2) makes it clear and in terms it is mandatory that no police officer shall investigate a non-cognizable case without the order of the Magistrate. Therefore, the said provision is mandatory and required to be complied with prior to investigating a non-cognizable offence.”
While citing the relevant case law, Justice Maheshwari then expounds in para 78 that, “When the breach of such a mandatory provision is brought to the knowledge of the Court at a sufficiently early stage, the Court, while not declining cognizance, will have to take the necessary steps to get the illegality cured and the defect rectified, by ordering such reinvestigation as the circumstances of an individual case may call for. Such a course is not altogether outside the contemplation of the scheme of the Code as appears from Section 202 under which a Magistrate taking cognizance on a complaint can order investigation by the police. Nor can it be said that the adoption of such a course is outside the scope of the inherent powers of the Special Judge, who for purposes of procedure at the trial is virtually in the position of a Magistrate trying a warrant case.”
As a corollary, Justice Maheshwari then hastens to add in para 80 that, “The order of taking cognizance passed by the Special Court after filing the charge-sheet passed on 19.04.2018, merely reflect that after perusal of documents as per list which is verified, the Court has taken cognizance. The Court has not looked into the vital aspect of following the procedure of Section 155(2) of Cr.P.C. Therefore, at the earliest when the application for discharge was filed, it was dismissed by order impugned dated 28.08.2020 with the incorrect notion regarding overriding effect to the provision of Section 19 of POCSO Act, confirmed by High Court. In my considered opinion, the order taking cognizance and to pass consequential order rejecting the application for discharge is not in accordance with law. The view taken by this Court in case of Keshav Lal Thakur (supra) relating to a case of non-cognizable offence, is aptly applicable in the facts of the present case. ”
Finally and as a corollary, Justice Maheshwari while continuing in the same vein then in para 81 that, “In view of the above, this appeal is allowed. Order impugned taking cognizance and consequential orders passed by the Trial Court which is affirmed by the High Court are hereby set-aside. The Special Court is at liberty to follow the procedure prescribed in the matter of investigation of non-cognizable offences.”
In conclusion, the Division bench of Justice J.K. Maheshwari and Justice Indira Banerjee took opposing views on the above mentioned issue and therefore the matter was reserved to be listed before a larger bench.
Justice Indira Banerjee took the stance that the provision of Section of 155 (2) of Cr.P.C. are not required to be complied with in the case of an offence under section 23 for the reason that if the Legislature had intended that the Cr.P.C. should apply to investigation of an offence under Section 23 of POCSO, it would specifically have provided so. Whereas on the other hand, Justice J.K. Maheshwari gave a dissenting opinion by allowing the Appeal for the reason that Section 23 is non-cognizable and Section 19 or other provisions of POCSO Act do not confer power for investigation except to specify the manner of reporting the offence and that the language of Section 155(2) makes it clear and in terms it is mandatory that no police officer shall investigate a non-cognizable case without the order of the Magistrate.
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Election Commission declares 253 RUPPs as inactive, bars them from availing benefits of the Symbol Order, 1968
Additional 86 Non-existent RUPPs shall be deleted from the list and benefits under the Symbols Order (1968) withdrawnAction against these 339 (86+253) non-compliant. RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022
In continuation of the earlier action initiated on May 25, 2022 for enforcing due compliances by Registered Unrecognized Political Parties (RUPPs), the Election Commission of India led by Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Shri Anup Chandra Pandey today further delisted 86 non-existent RUPPs and declared additional 253 as ‘Inactive RUPPs’. This action against 339 non-compliant RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022.
As per statutory requirements under section 29A of the RP Act, every political party has to communicate any change in its name, head office, office bearers, address, PAN to the Commission without delay. 86 RUPPs have been found to be non-existent either after a physical verification carried out by the respective Chief Electoral Officers of concerned States/UTs or based on report of undelivered letters/notices from Postal Authority sent to the registered address of concerned RUPP. It may be recalled that ECI had delisted 87 RUPPs and 111 RUPPs vide orders dated May 25, 2022 and June 20, 2022, thus totalling the number of delisted RUPPs to 284.
This decision against 253 non-compliant RUPPs has been taken based on reports received from Chief Electoral Officers of seven states namely Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana & Uttar Pradesh. These 253 RUPPs have been declared inactive, as they have not responded to the letter/notice delivered to them and have not contested a single election either to the General Assembly of a State or the Parliament Election 2014 & 2019. These RUPPs have failed to comply with statutory requirements for more than 16 compliance steps since 2015 and are continuing to default.
It is also noted that of the above 253 parties, 66 RUPPs actually applied for a common symbol as per para 10B of the Symbol’s Order 1968 and did not contest the respective elections. It is pertinent to note that privilege of a common symbol is given to RUPP based upon an undertaking for putting up at least 5 percent of total candidates with regard to said legislative assembly election of a State. Possibility of such parties occupying the available pre-election political space by taking benefits of admissible entitlements without contesting elections cannot be ruled out.
Coastal clean-up campaign receives a huge response: Dr. Jitendra Singh
The 75-day long ongoing Coastal Clean Up Campaign is receiving a huge response from across the sections of society and besides others, Governors, Chief Ministers, Union Ministers, celebrities, film and sports personalities, civil society groups etc. are joining the campaign with overwhelming enthusiasm and pledging their support to the longest and largest beach cleaning campaign in the world titled “Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar”, coordinated by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences with collaboration from all the other Union Ministries, departments as well as governments of the coastal States.
Addressing a press conference today, three days ahead of “International Coastal Clean-up Day” on 17th September, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said, he will join the campaign at Juhu beach in Mumbai on 17th September and informed that Governor Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan and several personalities as well as NGOs will also join at Juhu.
The Minister also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support through social media. The PM has stressed on keeping India’s coasts clean as he praised efforts of volunteers to remove garbage from the Juhu beach in Mumbai. Responding to a video posted by Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh about the clean-up at the beach, Modi tweeted, “Commendable… I appreciate all those involved in this effort. India is blessed with a long and beautiful coastline and it is important we focus on keeping our coasts clean”. The Minister said, “A cleanathon was organised at Juhu Beach in Mumbai, saw participation in large numbers especially by youngsters and Civil Society.
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will take a lead in the clean-up campaign at world famous Puri beach, while Pratap Chandra Sarangi, former union minister will be at Chandipur. BJP MP from Hooghly, West Bengal Ms Locket Chatterjee will be at Digha on D-Day. R.K.Mission head will lead the campaign at Bakkhali in southern Bengal.
Chief Minister of Gujarat Bhupendrabhai Patel will be at Porbandar (Madhavpur), while Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Parshottam Khodabhai Rupala will join the clean-up operation at Jafrabad, Amreli.
Governor of Goa P. S. Sreedharan Pillai and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant will take part in beach cleaning campaign in South and North Goa beaches on 17th September.
Similarly, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan will be at Kochi, while MoS External Affairs V. Muraleedharan will be at Kovalam beach at Thiruvananthapuram.
Governor of Karnataka Thawar Chand Gehlot will join the campaign at Panambur beach in Mangalore, while the Governor of Telangana, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan will lend her helping hand at Puducherry beach.
Governor of Mizoram Dr. K. Hari Babu will take part in Vizag beach while L. Murugan, Union MoS, Information and Broadcasting will join the event at Chennai
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that the campaign has entered the mode of whole of Government approach plus whole of nation participation.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, apart from active cooperation of Ministries of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Jal Shakti, Health and Family Welfare, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, External Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, organisations and associations like National Service Scheme (NSS), Indian Coast Guard, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Seema Jagran Manch, SFD, Paryavaran Sanrakshan Gatividhi (PSG), along with other social organizations and educational institutions are participating in the clean-up campaign.
The MPs of coastal states have also pledged full support to the first-of-its-kind and longest running coastal clean-up campaign in the world and they also advised the Ministry of Earth Sciences to undertake a variety of activities by involving local NGOs.
DASHBOARD TO BE SET UP SOON TO SHARE THE BEST TECH PRACTICES AMONG THE CENTRE & THE STATES: UNION MINISTER JITENDRA SINGH
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today announced setting up of a Dashboard to share the best technology practices among the Centre and the States.
Presiding over the concluding session of the two-day “Centre-State Science Conclave” at Science City in Ahmedabad, Dr Jitendra Singh informed that a high level mechanism will be developed by the Department of Science and Technology to monitor and coordinate the follow up action of the conclave. The Minister also asked the States to appoint a Nodal officer in each of the States to coordinate and cooperate with the Special Committee for knowing and sharing the best practices.
Giving the example of heli-borne technology launched from Jodhpur, Rajasthan in October, 2021, Dr Jitendra Singh said, to start with, the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana were taken up for this latest heli-borne survey.
The Minister pointed out that if the same technology is uploaded on Dashboard, other States may join and share this CSIR technology from source finding to water treatment and thus benefit millions of people across the country.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, it will also positively contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Har Ghar Nal Se Jal” as well as “doubling farmer’s income” goals. He said, the latest state-of-the-art technology is being employed by Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) for mapping groundwater sources in arid regions and thus help utilise groundwater for drinking purposes.
The 2-day ‘Centre-State Science Conclave’ was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Science City, Ahmedabad, yesterday. Dr Jitendra Singh expressed satisfaction that important plenary sessions with State S&T Ministers discussed in detail on issues like Agriculture, Innovation for producing portable drinking water including application of technologies like Desalination, Heli borne methods developed by DST, Clean Energy for All including S&T role in Hydrogen mission, Deep Sea Mission of MoES and its relevance for Coastal States/UT, Digital healthcare for All and Synergizing Science with National Education Policy.
A special session with the CEOs of over 100 Start-Ups and industry at the Centre-State Science Conclave’ in Ahmedabad came up with scientific solutions in the field of agriculture, drone, artificial intelligence, biotechnological solutions, single-use plastic alternates, irrigation and digital health amongst others.
Many of the State governments have shown keen interest in some of the technologies and agreed to partner with some of the startups for State-specific technological solutions.
Floods, economic crisis and political bickerings: A saga of Pakistan’s mismanagement & insensitivity
The worst floods in several decades have wreaked havoc in Pakistan, one of the most populous countries of South Asia. The floods have touched the country’s 220 million people’s lives directly or indirectly. More than 1,300 people have died with 81 out of 160 districts directly affected by the floods, leaving at least 33 million people homeless.
The heat waves followed by rains and glacial melting has been a global trend this year bringing out the stark reality that despite all talks and conventions, the world community has failed to contain and reverse climatic change. But Pakistan’s case is unique.
Beyond the human losses, the country’s economic managers have the most challenging task ahead as floods ravaged the country’s road and communication network, damaged an incalculable number of houses, and destroyed millions of hectares of crops.
Niaz Murtaza, a political economist, describes present crisis as “a triple whammy”, putting together economic, political and natural. “The poor had been suffering the first two months because of inflation, job loss and political paralysis. Now the floods have pushed millions into ruin,” he said.
Despite this, the political masters are not only busy in bickering and allegations against each other, but have also triggered a blame game on social media as usual, pointing fingers on India for the flood havoc. The bombardment of propaganda, nevertheless, cannot change the reality that Pakistan government and its institutions have utterly failed in fulfilling their duties towards its citizens.
Ludicrous as it is, it cannot absolve the leadership of Pakistan that has failed people in terms of economic mismanagement, entrenched corruption and naked cronyism in the system. Added to these are the wrong policies and priorities of Islamabad which have been instrumental in bringing economic crisis and political instability. The floods have only abetted it.
The natural disaster has struck Pakistan while economy is passing through the difficult phase of multiple challenges including Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis, heavy debt burden and solvency-related issues. The protracted economic crisis is likely to deepen further despite conclusion of talks with the IMF for release of Extended Fund Facility credit.
While Finance Minister Miftah Ismail estimates that the country has incurred a total loss of “at least $10 billion”, independent analysts, including Uzar Younus, Director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia centre and economist Ammar Habib Khan, put the figure between $15-20 billion, and expect it to rise further as information is coming with a great lag.
Existing infrastructure is collapsing with the flooding submerging one-third of the country, pushing 37 per cent of population into poverty. Pakistan is literally and figuratively under deep water, writes Nasir Jamal. It may take a few more months before the damages can be assessed. Even before the flooding, 60 per cent of the population was suffering from hunger, malnutrition and related diseases and the figures are bound to shoot up now.
In view of the mammoth loss, the IMF’s $1.2 billion credit now seems to be a peanut. Pakistan was earlier wounded and now it is bleeding. Floods will exacerbate the economic crisis that had shown initial signs of abating with the IMF deal. Twin deficits, growth prospects and inflationary expectations will be worsening, inflicting misery on the poor. Despite increasing gravity of the situation, saving people’s life and livelihood have not still become the priorities among the political class who are revealing in an ugly slugfest.
The real cost of the natural calamity is being borne by millions of poor kids, pregnant women, elderly and sick persons crowded under the open sky or tents, prone to hunger, diseases and insecurity as they wait for aid. It will be weeks before many can even return to their villages as the land drains and dries. It will take months, even years, to recover from the loss of housing, animals, crops and cultivable land.
Covid-19 had only disrupted economic exchange without damaging the economic base. But the flood has destroyed crops, land, animals, bridges, etc. negatively impacting deeper on the poor and the economy. And the insensitive political class in Pakistan is still deeply engrossed in political maneuver and cunning tricks against each other rather than presenting a united face at the time of calamity. That is the character of Pakistan’s politics.
In view of the contribution of agriculture to the extent of one fourth of the GDP, the country would have to face major revenue loss due to crop losses. As per the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s August 29 report, almost 80 per cent of crops in Sindh, which produces roughly 30% of Pakistan’s cotton output, were destroyed.
Close to 70 per cent of Pakistan’s textile industry, an important source of employment and foreign exchange, uses the cotton produced in the country. Floods are likely to cause severe shortage of cotton, said Abdul Rahim Nasir, Chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association. He added that instead of earlier average import of cotton estimated at about 4 million bales, Pakistan would now need to import just the double of that figure, at a potential cost of $3 billion.
Shahrukh Wani, an Oxford economist, says the flood will make it terribly difficult for the government to reduce the trade deficit because while the country will need to import food to “compensate” for lost crops, the textile sector will find itself struggling due to “potential shortage” of cotton crop.
The biting inflation which rose to 25% in the month of July from a year earlier, the highest since May 1975, is taking its own toll on the living conditions of masses. The flooding would further push up the inflation and accentuate the scarcity of even essentials.
Amreen Soorani, Head of Research at JS Global Capital Ltd, said that “the main concern from the floods is the impact on inflation”. Even the IMF warned that the runaway inflation could trigger protests and instability.
Islamabad secured funds from the IMF for immediate bailout of the economy from the saturating forex crisis. However, the problems would be far from over for Islamabad. As the advanced countries are focused more on the impact of Ukraine-Russia war and trying to cope with recessionary pressures while some of the development partners including Middle Eastern countries and China are down with donor fatigue, Islamabad has scant probability to get any major international relief.
For now, the immediate challenge that government will face is to fulfil the conditions of raising taxes and applying austerity measures as part of its agreement with the IMF for its bailout package. This might turn out a politically unpopular move and could flare up the political bickering. The condition is rife for mass protests in view of increasing cost of living for many months now, which opposition could take advantage of. Anger is rising across Pakistan over the slow pace of government relief efforts.
The catastrophic floods have put a downward pressure on growth prospectus. Initial estimates suggest that the economic growth rate may slow down to just 2 per cent. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that the recent floods caused more damage than the 2010 calamity wherein the economic losses had been estimated at $9.7 billion. The floods have already caused supply chain-related issues.
Even during natural calamity, politicians are concerned about their political agenda rather than allowing international aid agencies to import essential food items from the neighbouring country. Cases after cases of corruption are cropping up, “you reveal mine, I will reveal yours”, an unending slugfest continues.
Instead of fighting the fallout of the devastating natural calamity united, they are engrossed in manoeuvre and cunning tricks and a regressive thought process whether or not to allow aid flow from India. Some of the government top officials have suggested importing essential commodities such as food and medicine from India, while others are still the victim of the old rigidities and anti-India mindset.
India is an undoable reality of being the most potent vehicle of South Asia’s growth vision as it is a responsible regional power and the fastest growing economy of the world, which offers a big market for exports and sourcing imports. Islamabad needs to understand that cooperation with neighbours does not reduce the stature of a calamity hit country.
Separated in 1947, Sikh brother meets sister reunite
The Kartarpur Corridor has once again reunited another family after a man who separated from his parents when he was only a few months old in 1947, finally met his sister in Pakistan.
Amarjit Singh was left out in India along with his sister while his Muslim parents came to Pakistan. All eyes went teary as they saw the emotional scenes of the brother-sister reunion in Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Geo News reported.
Amarjit Singh arrived in Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa to meet his Muslim sister and to remain as her guest.
His sister, 65-year-old Kulsoom Akhtar, could not control her emotions after seeing Amarjit.
Both hugged each other and kept crying. She had travelled from her hometown in Faisalabad along with her son Shahzad Ahmed and other family members to meet her brother.
Kulsoom said that her parents came to Pakistan from the suburbs of the Jalandhar region of India in 1947, leaving behind her younger brother and a sister, Express Tribune reported.
Kulsoom said she was born in Pakistan and used to hear about her lost brother and a sister from her mother. She said that her mother used to cry every time whenever she remembered her missing children. Kulsoom said that she did not expect that she would ever be able to meet her brother and sister. However, a few years ago, a friend of her father Sardar Dara Singh came to Pakistan from India.
Kulsoom’s mother told Singh about her son and daughter she left behind in India. She also told him the name of their village and the location of their house in the neighbouring country.
Amarjit then visited her house in Padawan village of Jalandhar and informed her that her son was alive but her daughter was dead. Her son was named Amarjit Singh who was adopted by a Sikh family back then in 1947, The Express Tribune reported.
After getting the brother’s information, Amarjit and Kulsoom Akhtar contacted on WhatsApp and using the Kartarpur Corridor and the meeting between the two siblings became a reality.
Now an elderly man, Sardar Amarjit Singh came to Gurdwara Sahib in a wheelchair. Kulsoom Akhtar also could not travel due to back pain, but she showed courage and reached Kartarpur from Faisalabad along with her son. Both the siblings kept crying while embracing each other and remembering their parents.
Amarjit said that when he first learned that his real parents were in Pakistan and were Muslims, it was a shock to him. However, he comforted his heart that many families were separated from each other in addition to his own family.
Many Muslim children became Sikhs and many Sikh children became Muslims, Express Tribune reported.
He said that he always wanted to meet his real sister and brothers. He said that he is happy to know that three of his brothers are alive. However, one brother who was in Germany has passed away.
He said he will now come to Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa and spend time with his family. He also said that he will take his family to India as well so that they could meet their Sikh family. Both the siblings had brought many gifts for each other.
Shahzad Ahmad, son of Kulsoom, said that he used to hear about his uncle from his grandmother and mother. He said that all of the siblings were very young at the time of Partition and no name was given to Amarjit or perhaps, after so many years, the name had slipped out of mind.
“I understand that since my uncle was brought up by a Sikh family, he happens to be a Sikh, and my family and I have no problem with this,” he added.
Shahzad said that he is happy that even after 75 years his mother has found her lost brother.
22 officers of different cadres to serve in J&K
The Centre has relaxed Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) deputation rules to encourage IAS and other all-India service officers as well as those of the Central Services get posted in Jammu & Kashmir, in a bid to address the shortage of officers in the Union Territory.
Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said that due to relaxation of DoPT rules, 22 officers belonging to various services and different cadres have been posted in Jammu & Kashmir at various levels at a crucial time.
He said that DoPT has played a major role in facilitating induction of Jammu & Kashmir Administrative Services officers into the IAS by coordinating with UT administration, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the UPSC.
As a result, recently 16 officers from JKAS have been inducted into IAS and another 8 such vacancies will be filled up shortly giving opportunities to the JKAS officers to become part of prestigious IAS service after a long gap of 12 years.
The Minister added that mid-career training of JKAS officers of various seniority was carried out in collaboration with the LBSNAA and this has provided a new level of exposure to the JKAS Officers and more than 200 offices. Some other initiatives by the Ministry include special concessions or incentives to the Central government employees working in the Kashmir Valley in attached and subordinate offices or PSUs falling under control of the Central government.
They have been extended special concessions for a period of 3 years with effect from August 1, 2021 and the incentives include an additional house rent allowance, composite transfer grant, per diem allowance, incentive for period of temporary duty, messing allowance, and facility to draw pension at place of settlement in relaxation of relevant provisions.
Besides, facilities for retention of general pool accommodation available to officers who have served in the Central government has also been extended to officers posted in Jammu & Kashmir on the pattern of northeastern states.
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