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HPPSC Chairman and Member illegally appointed by intentionally violating SC orders: RTI

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HP Public Service Commission Chairman appointment

SHIMLA-SHIMLA-One of the biggest reason for deteriorated working culture of Himachal Pradesh Government is cited to be excess indulgence in nepotism while making appointments to to positions. Conduction of politically biased appointments are motivated by intention to reward or please bureaucrats personally loyal to the party or the ministers on high ranks such as Chairmen and Directors.

Earlier, the Government was dragged into court over arbitrary appointment of Chief Secretary VC Pharka. In a petition filed before Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in which petitioners, two IAS officers of 1982 batch, Deepak Sanan and Vineet Chawdhary, had alleged arbitrary appointment of Chief Secretary by superseding four senior candidates and without forming any screening committee. The petition said the government clearly violated directions of the Supreme Court given in a 2012 case.

Similarly, appointment of Kuldeep Singh Pathania as the Chairman of HP Pollution Control was challenged in the court. The National Green Tribunal had recently asked Pathania to stop functioning as the Chairman of HP PCB after a petition was filed by a resident of Uttarakhand alleging that the posts of chairmen in several states are being filled without requisite qualification.

As expected, the State Government easily obtained a stay on NGT order through High Court. HC said the tribunal is surpassing its jurisdiction.

Now, an RTI filed by an activist has revealed that HP Government has repeated same attitude in alleged illegal appointment of Member and Chairman of HP Public Service Commission by violating the Supreme Court orders.

The activist has written to the Chief Justice of HP High Court, and has requested to issue contempt notice to the government as the Government deliberately put aside the mandatory directions in these appointments.

The activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya has also appealed the Governor, Devvrat Acharya, to dismiss the recent appointments of Smt. Member Meera Walia and the Chairman Major Gen. (Rtd.) Dharam Vir Singh Rana as they stand in gross violation of apex court directions in the Civil Appeal no. 7640 of 2011 titled as State of Punjab v/s Salil Sabhlok.

According to the Civil Appeal mentioned above, two judges of the apex court had given concurrent judgments. As per para 111 of Madan B. Lokur’s judgment passed on February 15, 2013,

Given the experience in the making of such appointment, these is no doubt that until the State Legislature enacts an appropriate law, the State of Punjab must step in and take urgent steps to frame a memorandum of procedure and administrative guidelines for the selection and appointment of the Chairperson and members of the Punjab Public Service Commission, so that the possibility of arbitrary appointments is eliminated.

From that day, it has attained the status of the Law of the Land, said the activist in his petition .

He further said in the letter that the HP Government was duty bound to enact an appropriate law through State Legislature. Government should have stepped in to frame a memorandum of procedure and administrative guidelines for the selection and appointment of the chairperson and Members of Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission. However, the State Government or the Legislative Assembly enacted any law or framed any memorandum of procedure and administrative guidelines for the selection of the Chairman and Members of HPPSC.

Therefore, these appointments are deliberate act of the contempt of court.

I have also requested Smt. Meera Walia and Major General (Rtd) Dharam Vir Singh Rana to resign from their posts immediately because they are appointed illegally by the HP Govt by violating the orders of the Supreme Court. I have requested both of them to go through the para 111 of the order given by Justice Madan B. Lokur and understand that their appointment is bad in the eyes of law and contemptuous in nature

, said Dev Ashish Bhattacharya in a statement to Himachal Watcher.

The RTI activist has also requested the Advocate General of Himachal Pradesh, Shravan Dogra, to bring the position of the law into the notice of the Governor and the Chief Minister by way of his legal opinion, so that they are able to take necessary corrective actions on the illegal actions taken by them.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 7 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Marriage Between a Male And a Transwoman is a Valid Marriage

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Transgender marriage Valid in India says Cout

There are times when one feels proud to be a part of the legal profession, one such moment has come due to a recent judgment passed by a bench of the Madras High Court. The judgement was authored by J. G.R Swaminathan.

The High Court has recognized the marriage between a male and a transwoman. It has held that when both the partners are professing Hindu religion then the marriage is to be recognized under Section 5 of the Hindu marriage Act 1955, like any other Hindu marriage.

Though a path-breaking judgment, the Hon’ble Judges were humble enough to state that;

“By holding so, this court is not breaking any new ground. It is merely stating the obvious. Sometimes to see the obvious, one needs not only physical version in the eye but also love in the heart”

It so happened that Shri Arun Kumar got married to Miss Sarija in a temple as per Hindu rites and customs. The temples authorities though permitted the performance of marriage, but they declined to vouch for it or issue a certificate in this regard. When the parties approached the Government authorities for registration of marriage, the Authority also refused.

When the couple approached the High Court it was argued by the State Govt. that a ‘bride’ can only refer to ‘a woman on her wedding day’. Further they argued that the temple had rightly rejected the certificate as the bride wasn’t a ‘woman’.

The Court would have none of it. The court referred to the judgment on transgender rights in NALSA case and stated that the transgender person’s right to decide their self-identified gender has been upheld by the Apex Court already. The Court in the NALSA case noted that the existence of a third category outside the male/female binary has been recognized in the indigenous Hindu tradition from time immemorial.

Hon’ble High Court further stated that;

“Sex and gender are not one and the same. A persons’ sex is biologically determined at the time of birth. Not so in the case of gender. “

Transgender persons who are neither male/female fall within the expression person and hence are entitled to legal protection of laws.

The court also observed that often the state and its authorities either due to ignorance or otherwise, fail to recognize the identity of such persons or stop discrimination which they are made to face in the society. For too long transgender’s have been made to languish in the margins.

It said

“A person who is in the Third Category is entitled to remain beyond the duality of male/female or opt to identify oneself as male or female. It is entirely the choice of the individual concerned.”

The Court further directed the Tamil Nadu government to issue a Government Order to uphold the NALSA judgment and to “effectively ban sex reassignment surgeries on intersex infants and children.”

The Court also noted that the state should undertake awareness programmes to de-stigmatize the birth of intersex children.

“The parents must be encouraged to feel that the birth of an intersex child is not a matter of embarrassment or shame. It lies in the hands of the Government to launch a sustained awareness campaign in this regard.“

The stand of the court is applaudable and takes our commitment to the constitution further. The dignity of human life, one’s privacy, one’s right of a life partner is a basic part of an individual’s personal autonomy. This autonomy is guaranteed by the constitution, this autonomy is what we fought for in our freedom struggle. This autonomy cannot be made a plaything of the narrow-minded society, government, and political parties which come and go. The judiciary is the only institution which can be a custodian of this autonomy and a protector of the dignity of people in face of such societal, cultural and even governmental imposed discriminations.

A transwoman is a person and she enjoys equal rights. Her self-determination to find a partner and her expression to identify her gender as that of a woman is protected and is guaranteed the same recognition which is enjoyed by a male or a female (person) of the society.

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Group of Youth Try Cleaning Part of Shimla’s Jakhu Hill, Finds More Garbage Than Expected

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Trek A Tribe Cleanliness Driver in Shimla

Shimla-Every year on April 15, Himachal Day is celebrated to mark the day when Himachal Pradesh, among other 30 princely states, came into being as a centrally administered territory. Since the inception of this state, the people throughout the world have admired Himachal Pradesh owing to its tall standing mountains, forests, nature, adventurous trekking trails and the peace and serenity it offers.

However, during the last decade, this love and admiration from tourists have turned into filth and carelessness. Rivers and forests alike have been polluted by broken beer bottles, single-use plastic cups, water bottles, wrappers of crisps and biscuit. Not only do they harm the soil, but also poses a threat to the lives of animals like cows and dogs, who consume littered plastic, causing them extreme physical ailments.

The menace of littering continues despite the claims of the civic bodies as well as the government of India that Swachh Bharat has almost eradicated this ill practice.

As an initiative Trek A Tribe, a tours and travels company, organized a cleanliness drive at Shimla on April 15, 2019 to celebrate Himachal Day. Total 18 youth participated in the cleanliness campaign. As per this team, the campaign began from Sheeshe Wali Kothi and was supposed to end at Jakhu Temple. But they had to abandon their plan of going till the top since the amount of waste was much more than these youth had expected.

Just the starting point consumed over four hours of their drive. We collected 35 bags of garbage at the starting point of their drive,

the team said.

Most of the trash is the plastic left behind by youth who come to the forest to drink and eat, causing harm to the environment,

the team said.

The end solution, however, does not lay in repetitive cleanliness drives, but in the conscious awareness of the people. They should be aware enough to not leave their trash behind, it said.  

These cleanliness drives, the team said, do help in cleaning the surroundings but they do not solve the purpose if the people keep littering the same place over and again. The team said that the purpose of its cleanliness drive was also to raise awareness among the people by initiating a dialogue towards the protection of the environment. This drive urged people to raise voice against plastic pollution and to lead their lives more consciously. They need a more aware lifestyle.

The Municipal Corporation, Shimla, provided transportation and disposal facility for the garbage collected by these youth.

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Now, Himachal’s Private Schools Warn Govt of Protest, Term Ongoing Inspections Wrongful

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Himachal's Private Schools Inspection Report

Shimla-Under immense pressure from parents, who have been protesting for last one and half month, private schools in Himachal Pradesh are finally undergoing inspections from April 9, 2019.  As per reports, the committees formed by the Directorate of Higher Education, H.P., inspected dozens of schools in Shimla and took records related to fees charged during last three years, salaries of staff, number of students, facilities, qualification of teachers, expenditure on school etc. into possession.

Though the Department did not comment about these schools officially, the inspected schools of Shimla included St. Edwards, DAV Lakkar Bazaar, Dayanand Public School, Auckland House, St. Thomas, Convent of Jesus and Mary, Secret Heart Dhalli, DAV Totu, Mount Shivalik in Jubbarhatti, Rising High etc. There are over 150 private schools running in Shimla.

Internal sources from some of these schools, on the condition of anonymity, told Himachal Watcher that committees are executing directions of the Directorate strictly. The officials are not soft on the management. It has created a stir among these schools.

By issuing a notification, on April 8, 2019, the Directorate had formed committees and had asked them to file a report of private schools running in District Headquarters by April 13. However, inspections still continue and the Directorate has not received reports of all schools yet. The report of schools in subdivisions and others is expected by April 22.

As per the student-parent forum, total 1472 private schools are currently running in the State. Further course of action would be decided only after the data of all schools is available, the Director Dr Amarjeet Kumar Sharma  had told media.

Similarly, at least six teams were constituted for inspection of over 180 private schools in Kullu district. Reports from Bilaspur said there are over 80 private schools in Bilaspur and 20 percent of them had not provided data that the Directorate had sought two months ago. It is expected that now these schools would be made to comply with the orders strictly.

It’s pertinent to mention that the Directorate had asked schools to submit various data related to their fee structure, annual hikes, audit reports, funds etc. However, a large number of schools had not responded to it. Moreover, the Government appeared reluctant to take action for this non-compliance. But now the pressure from protesting parents now compelled it to take action.

Private Schools Terms Govt Inspections Wrongful

Reports from Mandi said that managements of several private schools expressed their anguish over allegations labelled by the student-parent forum. In a meeting with authorities of the Education Department, they claimed that annual fee hikes are not as high as alleged by the forum.  The schools said it’s absolutely wrong to term them as looters. Justifying annual hikes, they said that in order to provide facilities to students and to hike salaries of teachers every year, it becomes unavoidable to make hikes in school fees and funds.

Association of Private Schools in the State has submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister and warned that they would stage a protest at the Directorate of Higher Education, Shimla, if these inspections weren’t stopped. 

The Association alleged that the government did not provide them with any aid despite fulfilling criteria of reserving 25 percent seats for poorer section of society.

The Association argued that the government’s interference in deciding fees of these schools is unwanted and wrongful as they do not receive any funds. They also argued that parents send their children to private schools willingly.

The Association asked that if the schools are not running as per the government rules, then how they obtain renewable every year. The Association termed this action as a haphazard response to the protest of the student-parent forum. 

Management or owners of these schools termed it a favor to the society to make quality education accessible to them through private institutes.

Schools Targeting, Mentally Harassing Children: Student-Parent Forum

On Friday, the forum alleged that a reputed private school based in Khalini of Shimla targeted children of those parents who had participated in the protest held on April 8.  The convener of the parents’ forum Vijender Mehra alleged that children complained to their parents that they were threatened in the classroom. The forum demands that action should be taken against this school under the Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act 2005.  Also, it violates rights and protections given to children under Article 39(f) of the Constitution.

 Mehra, who had been leading back-to-back protests against various schools and the Education Department, terms it a victory of the parents who came together to protest. He expects that now parents would receive some relief.

The forum is demanding that the Department should ensure solid action at the ground level.  The forum has warned of more protests if the government tried to manipulate the situation to protect private schools.

Enrolling children to private schools is a huge financial burden on parents.  Deteriorating quality of education being provided in government schools has facilitated the monopoly of private schools. The people do not trust government schools when it comes to education and the future of their children. The government’s will to improve academic standards in public schools is absent. At the same time, the government had been avoiding regulation of private institutes in the State.

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