Magistrate not a post office to forward all complaints without application of mind: Kerala HC - Business Guardian
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Magistrate not a post office to forward all complaints without application of mind: Kerala HC



In a simple, straightforward, and stimulating judgment titled Jibin Joseph v. Union Territory of Lakshadweep & Anr in Crl.MC No. 2184 of 2021 against the order in Crl.MP 10/2021 of District & Sessions Court, Kavaratti and cited in 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 329 which was pronounced as recently as on June 22, 2022, the Kerala High Court has minced absolutely no words to hold that a Magistrate Court is bound to apply its mind while exercising the powers conferred to it under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Dr Justice Kauser Edappagath stated that while taking cognizance of offences or ordering an investigation into any cognizable case, courts should not merely forward all complaints they receive like a post office. As such, it was emphasized that the powers under Section 156(3) cannot be exercised casually or mechanically but are required to be exercised judiciously.

At the outset, this brief, brilliant, balanced and bold judgment authored by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Dr Justice Kauser Edappagath of Kerala High Court sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “This Crl.M.C has been filed to quash Annexure V order dated 27/3/2021 passed by the Court of Sessions, Kozhikode (in-charge of District and Sessions Court, Kavaratti) (for short, the court below).”

Needless to say, the Bench then states in para 2 that, “The petitioner is working as Additional Public Prosecutor and Additional Government Pleader at the District and Sessions Court, Kavaratti, Lakshadweep. The 2nd respondent is a practising lawyer at Kavaratti, Lakshadweep.”

As things stand, the Bench then notes in para 3 that, “The 2nd respondent is representing the accused in SC No. 13/2019 on the file of the Special Court for Trial of POCSO cases, Kavaratti. The allegation in the said case is that the victim girl therein aged 16 years was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by the accused therein.”

Simply put, the Bench then discloses in para 4 that, “Several other crimes were also registered on the allegation that the very same girl was subjected to sexual assault by different persons.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages in para 5 that, “As per the direction of the Special Court for the trial of POCSO cases, Kavaratti, the victim was accommodated in a Working Women’s Hostel. The victim was found missing one day from the said hostel. The police intervened and took her back to the hostel. Thereafter, the 2nd respondent published a Facebook post alleging that the petitioner is constantly contacting the victim and had a role in the missing incident of the victim girl. As the contents of the said Facebook post revealed the identity of the victim girl, a case was registered against the 2nd respondent as Crime No.35/2020 by Androth police station u/s 23(4) r/w 23(1) & 23(2) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (for short ‘POCSO Act’) and u/s 228A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Annexure II is the FIR. Thereafter, the 2nd respondent filed a complaint to the Station House Officer as well as the Superintendent of Police, Lakshadweep on 1/12/2020 without mentioning any names of the persons who are frequently contacting the victim through phone and regarding the missing incident of the victim girl. Thereafter on 25/1/2021, the 2nd respondent filed another complaint to the Station House Officer, Kavaratti Police Station alleging that the petitioner is constantly contacting the victim and hence committed the offence punishable u/s 11(iv) of the POCSO Act and u/s 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (for short ‘JJ Act’). However, the Station House Officer did not register the case. Annexure IV is the said complaint. Thereafter the 2nd respondent filed a private complaint at the Court of Sessions, Kavaratti raising the very same allegations. Since there was no sitting at the Court of Sessions, Kavaratti, the Court of Sessions, Kozhikode which was in charge of the Court of Sessions, Kavaratti forwarded the complaint to the Station House Officer, Kavaratti for investigation u/s 156 (3) of Cr. P.C as per the order dated 27/03/2021. Annexure V is the copy of the private complaint. The order forms part of Annexure V. The said order is under challenge in this Crl. M.C.”

As it turned out, the Bench then observes in para 9 that, “As stated already, the 2nd respondent represents the accused and the petitioner, in his capacity as Additional Public Prosecutor, represents the prosecution/victim in SC No.13/2019. A reading of Annexure V complaint would show that the 2nd respondent suppressed the fact that she is representing the accused in the above case. The allegation against the petitioner is that he frequently contacted the victim girl residing in the Working Women’s Hostel over the phone and that amounts to an offence punishable u/s 11(iv) of the POCSO Act. It is further alleged that the petitioner who is an officer of the court has the duty to ensure the safety of the victim, but by frequently contacting the child over the phone, he has committed the offence punishable u/s 75 of the JJ Act as well.”

As we see, the Bench then specifies in para 10 that, “It is clear from Section 11 of the POCSO Act that only when a person does any act mentioned in sub-clauses (i) to (vi) with sexual intent, the same will constitute an offence. Similarly, to attract the offence u/s 75 of the JJ Act, the accused must have actual control or charge over the child. Without ascertaining whether there is an allegation anywhere in the complaint that the petitioner had any sexual intent to attract S.11(iv) of the POCSO Act or whether the petitioner had actual control or charge over the child, the court below simply forwarded the complaint to the police without a speaking order. The impugned order reads as follows:

“Heard complainant. Complaint is referred to SHO, Kavaratti P.S., u/s 156(3) Cr. P.C to register and investigate the case and report to this court”.”

Most significantly, what forms the cornerstone of this brilliant judgment is then laid bare in para 11 wherein it is postulated that, “Section 156(3) of Cr.P.C. which operates at the pre-cognizance stage confers powers on the Magistrate/Court, who is empowered to take cognizance of the offence under S.190, to order investigation into any cognizable case. It is settled that the powers under S.156(3) of the Cr.PC cannot be exercised casually or mechanically but are required to be exercised judiciously. True, at that stage, the Magistrate/Court is not required to embark upon an in-depth roving enquiry as to the reliability or genuineness of the allegations in the complaint. However, the Magistrate/Court should not adopt the easy way of forwarding the complaint unmindful of the consequences of forwarding such complaints. The Magistrate/Court is not merely functioning as a “post office” in forwarding anything and everything filed in the form of a complaint. The Magistrate/Judge should certainly scrutinize the allegations in the complaint to satisfy himself that it discloses the necessary ingredients of the offence for which investigation is intended to be ordered and to find out whether it is a matter to be forwarded to the police to collect materials for a successful prosecution against the accused. The Magistrate/Court should ensure that the complaint is supported by an affidavit duly sworn in by the complainant as held by the Apex Court in Priyanka Srivastava and Another v. State of U.P. and Others (2015 KHC 4242). The Magistrate/Court has a duty to protect the interest of the accused also since, at the time of conducting inquiry or forwarding of the complaint to the police under S.156(3) Cr.P.C, the accused does not get any right of hearing.”

While citing the relevant case laws, the Bench then mentions in para 12 that, “The scope of Section 156(3) of Cr.P.C came up for consideration before the Apex Court in several cases. In Maksud Saiyed (supra), the Apex Court examined the requirement of the application of mind by the Magistrate before exercising jurisdiction under Section 156(3) and held that where jurisdiction is exercised on a complaint filed in terms of Section 156(3) or Section 200 Cr. P.C, the Magistrate is required to apply his mind. In Ramdev Food Products Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Gujarat (2015 KHC 4199) and in Priyanka Srivastava (supra), the Apex Court reiterated that power under S.156(3) warrants application of judicial mind. In Anil Kumar and Others v. M.K. Aiyappa and Others [(2013) 10 SCC 705], it was held that the application of mind by the Magistrate should be reflected in the order. It was further held that the mere statement that he has gone through the complaint, and documents and heard the complainant, as such, as reflected in the order, will not be sufficient. After going through the complaint, documents and hearing the complainant, what weighed with the Magistrate to order investigation under S.156(3) Cr.P.C., should be reflected in the order, though a detailed expression of his views is neither required nor warranted.”

Be it noted, the Bench then minces no words to state unequivocally in para 13 that, “A reading of Annexure V order would show that it was passed mechanically without examining the facts of the case, nature of allegations and without ascertaining whether the information revealed any cognizable offence or not. The order does not reflect the reason to order investigation u/s 156(3) of Cr.P.C. As stated already, the offences alleged against the petitioner are u/s 11(iv) of the POCSO Act and S.75 of the JJ Act. The allegation is that the petitioner who was the Additional Prosecutor in charge of the conduct of the case of the victim frequently contacted the victim girl residing in the Working Women’s Hostel over phone. As per S.11 of the POCSO Act, the alleged act should be committed with sexual intent. There is absolutely no allegation in Annexure IV complaint addressed to the police that the petitioner had any sexual intent. In Annexure V private complaint filed at the court below also, there are no materials to show that the said act was done by the petitioner with sexual intent. To attract S.75 of the JJ Act, the accused must have actual control over the victim child. There is no such allegation either in Annexure IV or in Annexure V complaints. Law is well settled that before directing the police to investigate under sub-section (3) of S.156 of Cr.P.C., the Magistrate/court should form an opinion that the complaint discloses a cognizable offence. When the allegation made in the complaint does not disclose a cognizable offence, the Magistrate/Court has no jurisdiction to order police investigation under sub-section (3) of S.156 of Cr.P.C. As stated already, the allegations made in the complaint and the documents produced in support thereof do not prima facie disclose the ingredients of S.11(iv) of the POCSO Act and S.75 of the JJ Act.”

Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 14 that, “The Station House Officer, Kavaratti conducted a thorough enquiry on the complaint preferred by the 2nd respondent and submitted a report at the court below. Annexure III is the said report. The report discloses that the allegation in the complaint of the 2nd respondent that the petitioner had been contacting the victim over the phone continuously was factually verified by taking the call detail report of the mobile phone number used by the victim as well as the petitioner. It was found that there was absolutely no phone call contact between the victim girl and the petitioner. It is further reported that the statement of the victim, warden of Working Women’s Hostel, Kavaratti and roommates of the victim girl were recorded and none of them stated that the petitioner made any attempt to contact the victim. The victim girl clearly stated that she was never contacted by the petitioner. The report further state that the security lapse at Working Women’s Hostel, Kavaratti is the main reason for the missing of the victim child. The learned standing counsel for the Union Territory of Lakshadweep has submitted before me that the complaint preferred by the 2nd respondent against the petitioner is false, frivolous ill-motivated and there is no substance in it. For the reasons stated above, I am of the view that proceeding further with Annexure V order would be a sheer abuse of the process of law. Hence, Annexure V order and all further proceedings thereto stand hereby quashed. Crl. M.C. is allowed.”

All told, the Kerala High Court has made it indubitably clear that the Magistrate/Court is not merely functioning as a “post office” in forwarding anything and everything filed in the form of a complaint without application of mind. This we have discussed in detail in para 11 as stated hereinabove. Of course, all the Courts must adhere to what the Kerala High Court has held so very commendably in this leading case.

Most significantly, what forms the cornerstone of this brilliant judgment is then laid bare in para 11 wherein it is postulated that, “Section 156(3) of Cr.P.C. which operates at the pre-cognizance stage confers powers on the Magistrate/Court, who is empowered to take cognizance of the offence under S.190, to order investigation into any cognizable case. It is settled that the powers under S.156(3) of the Cr.PC cannot be exercised casually or mechanically but are required to be exercised judiciously. True, at that stage, the Magistrate/Court is not required to embark upon an in-depth roving enquiry as to the reliability or genuineness of the allegations in the complaint.”

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NCEL granted export permission for rice and sugar



The newly established National Cooperative Exports Ltd (NCEL) has received authorization to export 14,92,800 tonnes of non-Basmati rice to 16 countries and 50,000 tonnes of sugar to two countries, as disclosed by Cooperation Minister Amit Shah in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Functioning under the ambit of the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act, 2002, the NCEL, registered in January this year, operates across agriculture, allied activities, handloom, and handicraft items. With an objective to double its revenue by 2025 from the present Rs 2,160 crore, the entity has actively enrolled numerous cooperatives, garnering 2,581 membership applications from 22 states and Union Territories.

Minister Amit Shah emphasized that NCEL’s primary objective is to create an export-friendly environment, particularly for agricultural commodities, leveraging India’s comparative advantage in these sectors. The cooperative body welcomes the participation of cooperative societies, from grassroots to apex levels, interested in engaging in export activities.

The key focus of NCEL remains on utilizing the surplus available within the Indian cooperative sector by accessing global markets. This strategic expansion aims to enhance the demand for Indian cooperative products on an international scale, ensuring better price realizations for these goods and services.

NCEL’s operational scope encompasses a comprehensive ecosystem to promote exports, spanning procurement, storage, processing, marketing, branding, labelling, packaging, certification, research and development, and trading across all goods and services produced by cooperative societies.

Moreover, the cooperative export body intends to facilitate cooperatives in availing benefits from various export-related schemes and policies curated by different ministries, streamlining and enhancing their export endeavours.

The establishment of NCEL underscores a concerted effort to leverage cooperative strengths in India’s export landscape, promising to amplify market reach and economic returns for agricultural commodities and allied sectors through strategic global engagements.

The initiative by the Cooperation Minister, Amit Shah, signifies a concerted push to empower cooperative societies in India’s export realm. By extending export permissions for substantial quantities of non-Basmati rice and sugar, the National Cooperative Exports Ltd (NCEL) is poised to facilitate a significant leap in the global market for agricultural produce.

This move aligns with India’s broader objective to bolster its global trade footprint, leveraging the competitive edge of its agricultural sector. Through NCEL, the aim is not only to foster increased export volumes but also to ensure a more equitable distribution of economic gains, channelling the benefits back to the grassroots level of cooperative societies.

Moreover, the strategic focus of NCEL on diverse export-related activities, including procurement, storage, branding, and research, speaks volumes about the comprehensive approach taken to fortify the entire export ecosystem. This encompassing strategy, coupled with NCEL’s commitment to guiding cooperatives in navigating export-related policies and schemes, underscores a forward-thinking approach aimed at creating a conducive environment for cooperative-driven exports.

The enthusiasm surrounding NCEL’s permissions signals a transformative phase for India’s cooperative sector. By leveraging cooperative strengths and fostering a global market presence, the initiative not only aims to boost export figures but also promises to uplift local communities, thereby enhancing the socio-economic fabric of the country.

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Election Commission declares 253 RUPPs as inactive, bars them from availing benefits of the Symbol Order, 1968



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.

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Coastal clean-up campaign receives a huge response: Dr. Jitendra Singh



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.

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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.

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Floods, economic crisis and political bickerings: A saga of Pakistan’s mismanagement & insensitivity




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.

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Separated in 1947, Sikh brother meets sister reunite




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.

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