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Govt considering all options to decriminalise homosexuality: Sibal

NEW DELHI: With the Supreme Court order on gay sex creating a major uproar, the government on Thursday said it is considering all options to decriminalise homosexuality and filing a curative petition in the apex court could be one of them.

“The Government is considering all options to restore the (Delhi) High Court verdict on (Section) 377 (of IPC). We must decriminalise adult consensual relationships,” Law Minister Kapil Sibal said.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the Supreme Court ruling was “wrong” and all options would be looked at to set right the Supreme Court order.

Terming the judgement “disappointing”, he said the court should have applied “current social and moral values” in the case.

He said the government should file a review or curative petition and that the matter should be heard by a five-bench judge.

Chidambaram, the former Home Minister, said the Delhi High Court judgement was a “well-researched one” which the Union government accepted and did not challenge in the Supreme Court.

He added that the government’s decision of not opposing the High Court judgement in the Supreme Court was also his party’s view.

Chidambaram noted that the Bench that gave the order, should have referred the matter to a five-judge Bench and that the interpretation of law cannot be static. — PTI







Delhi Lt Governor invites Harsh Vardhan

NEW DELHI: Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung on Thursday invited Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief ministerial candidate Harsh Varshan to explore the possibility of forming a government.

“Harsh Vardhan is currently in Raipur to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Raman Singh as Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh. He is likely to meet the Lt Governor this evening,” said a statement from the LG Office.

The BJP has emerged as the single largest party in the Delhi Assembly elections with 31 seats, but it fell short of a clear majority in the 70-member Assembly. The Aam Aadmi Party got 28 seats.

Harsh Vardhan had told IANS Wednesday that he had been invited by the Lt Governor. — IANSBack








AP Assembly gets six weeks to decide on Telangana Bill

NEW DELHI: The Andhra Pradesh Assembly has been given six weeks time to take a call on the state reorganisation Bill that seeks to create a separate Telangana state.

Official sources said that President Pranab Mukherjee suggested this time limit last night when he remitted the Bill back to the Union Government to be on passed to the AP legislature.

The Bill will be now sent to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, and the Speaker N. Manohar’s office has already been informed about it. The winter session of the state legislature begins today.

The President had sought legal opinions as he wanted the Bill, which provides for creation of Telangana by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh, to be legally sound before sending it to the state Assembly for approval.

The Andhra Pradesh State Reorganisation Bill has already seen a virtual revolt from the state Congress’ own Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy who had said recently during a public rally that he would not allow Andhra Pradesh to be divided.

“We will see how the Bill is passed in Parliament. United Andhra Pradesh is not just a slogan, it’s our policy,” Reddy had said.

However, experts opine that whatever the Assembly does, Parliament can go ahead with its legislative process for creation of the new state.

The Union Cabinet had on December 5 given the go-ahead for the creation of a 10-district Telangana and outlined the blueprint for carving out the country’s 29th state.

Telangana will comprise 10 districts and the rest of Andhra Pradesh will consists of 13 districts. Hyderabad will remain the common capital for both the states for a period not exceeding 10 years.

The Governor of Telangana will have a special responsibility for security of life, liberty and property of all those who reside in the common capital area. The Governor may be assisted by two advisors to be appointed by the Centre. — PTIBack









Bangladesh SC upholds Jamaat leader’s death penalty

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a death sentence for top Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah for 1971 crimes against humanity, rejecting his review petition two days after his execution was dramatically put on hold in a last-minute reprieve.

“Rejected”, Chief Justice Muzammel Hossain ruled on Thursday at a packed courtroom after two days of hearing on the maintainability of the review prayers.

The verdict removes the last barrier for the execution of 65-year-old Mollah, who has been lodged at the high security Dhaka Central Jail.

A war crimes tribunal had sentenced Mollah to life imprisonment on February 5. The Appellate Division revised the verdict on September 17 and raised it to death penalty.

Based on the highest court’s verdict, the tribunal issued the death warrant for Mollah.

For his atrocities and for siding with Pakistani troops during the 1971 Liberation War, Mollah was dubbed as the “Butcher of Mirpur.”

The execution of the death penalty of Mollah was stayed less than two hours before he was set to be hanged on Tuesday.

The stay order came as jail officials prepared to hang Mollah at one minute past midnight.

The order was issued after Mollah’s lawyers filed a plea seeking the hearing of their petition for a review of the apex court’s judgement that handed down the death penalty to the Jamaat leader.

Mollah was arrested on July 13, 2010, while the tribunal indicted him on May 28, 2012, on six specific charges for actively participating, facilitating, aiding and substantially contributing to the attacks on unarmed civilians, “causing commission of the horrific genocides, murders and rapes.”

Mollah, the fourth-highest Jamaat leader, was the first politician to be found guilty by the Supreme Court after it rejected an appeal to acquit him of all charges. — PTIBack









Australian court rejects law allowing gay marriage

SYDNEY: Australia’s highest court struck down a landmark law on Thursday that had begun allowing the country’s first gay marriages, shattering the dreams of more than two dozen same-sex newlyweds whose marriages will now be annulled less than a week after their weddings.

The federal government had challenged the validity of the Australian Capital Territory’s law that had allowed gay marriages in the nation’s capital and its surrounding area starting last Saturday.

The federal government’s lawyer had argued that having different marriage laws in various Australian states and territories would create confusion. The ACT, which passed the law in October, said it should stand because it governs couples outside the federal definition of marriage as being between members of the opposite sex.

The High Court unanimously ruled that the ACT’s law could not operate concurrently with the federal Marriage Act, which was amended in 2004 to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

“The Marriage Act does not now provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same sex couples. The Marriage Act provides that a marriage can be solemnised in Australia only between a man and a woman,” the court said in a statement issued alongside its ruling. “That Act is a comprehensive and exhaustive statement of the law of marriage.”

Rodney Croome, national director of the advocacy group Australian Marriage Equality, said his group knows of about 30 same-sex couples who have married since Saturday, though the actual number may be slightly higher. The court decision essentially nullifies their marriages, as it means the ACT law under which they were wed was invalid.

Outside the court in Canberra, a tearful Croome, flanked by several same-sex couples who were married in the past week, said the ruling was a defeat for marriage equality but there had been a greater victory this week.

“And that victory was the nation saw for the first time, I believe, what is really at the core of this issue they’ve seen that marriage equality is not about protest or politics or even about laws in the constitution, ultimately. Marriage equality is about love, commitment, family and fairness,” Croome said.

In its decision, the court wrote that the federal government is responsible for deciding whether same-sex marriage should be legalized. The ruling means that no Australian state or territory can make that decision, said Sydney University constitutional lawyer Anne Twomey.

Lyle Shelton, managing director of Australian Christian Lobby, which opposes same-sex marriage, praised the court ruling and said common sense had prevailed.

As for the ruling’s impact on the newly-wedded couples, Shelton said it was “really sad that they were put in a position” in which they were allowed to marry before the court handed down its judgment.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott opposes gay marriage and his coalition blocked two federal bills last year that would have allowed legal recognition of same-sex partnerships.

The ruling comes a day after India’s Supreme Court struck down a 2009 lower court decision to decriminalise homosexuality.

Gay marriage has legal recognition in 18 countries as well as 16 US states plus the District of Columbia. — APBack








Kejriwal unwell, drops plan to attend Hazare fast

NEW DELHI: Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal, who was supposed to go to Ralegan Siddhi to support Anna Hazare, has dropped the plan due to his ill health.

“Kejriwal is suffering from high fever due to which he is unable to go to Ralegan Siddhi to support Hazare, who is on indefinite hunger strike for passage of Jan Lokpal Bill in Parliament,” AAP spokesperson Manish Sisodia told PTI.

Instead of Kejriwal, party leaders Kumar Vishwas, Sanjay Singh and Gopal Rai have left for Ralegan Siddhi, he said.

On Wednesday during a public meeting, Kejriwal had announced that he and Vishwas would go to Ralegan Sidhi to support Hazare’s agitation.

Kejriwal addressed the public meeting after the stunning victory in the Delhi Assembly polls despite running high fever, Sisodia said.

He was rushed to a doctor as soon as the public meeting ended who asked him to take rest. Kejriwal would visit Ralegan Sidhi to support Hazare once he is well, Sisodia said. — PTI




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