Private space: On public notices under Special Marriage Act

The Allahabad High Court ruling that people marrying under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, can choose not to publicise their union with a notice 30 days in advance may not exactly be a judicial pushback against problematic anti-conversion laws enacted by several BJP-ruled States. But it serves to get a major irritant out of the way of couples wanting to marry against the wishes of their parents or their immediate community. Many intercaste and inter-faith marriages have faced violent opposition from those acting in the name of community pride or those raising the bogey of ‘love jihad’. Hindutva activists have been targeting Muslim men marrying Hindu women, especially if the women have converted to Islam prior to the marriage. The court said that mandatorily publishing a notice of the intended marriage and calling for objections violates the right to privacy. According to the new order, if a couple gives it in writing that they do not want the notice publicised, the Marriage Officer
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Double ignominy: On the second impeachment of Donald Trump

Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump has entered the record books for being the only American President to be impeached twice. The moment of ignominy came after the House of Representatives passed a motion of impeachment against him, this time for “incitement of insurrection,” following the assault on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6 by a violent pro-Trump mob. His first impeachment, in 2019, was for “abuse of power” and “obstruction of justice” over his dealings with Ukraine and attempts by Congress to investigate the same, yet he survived in office owing to a Senate acquittal. On this occasion, not only did the House vote resoundingly, by a margin of 232-197, to impeach him but it passed with an unprecedented margin of bipartisan support after 10 Republicans crossed the aisle. This might signal a broader mood across Congress, particularly in the Senate, to vote differently to the outcome last time, specifically that there will be sufficient support among Republican ranks for a
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Terror trail: On Pakistan action against terrorists

In his speech to the UN Security Council (UNSC) marking 20 years since the resolutions that announced a global commitment to the war against terror after the U.S. 9/11 attacks, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar made a pitch for greater coordination between counter terrorism agencies worldwide. He highlighted the necessity to streamline the process of the UN’s top body in designating terrorists while strengthening coordination in the agencies that check their financial resources. First, the world must acknowledge that terrorist organisations use not only extortion and money laundering, drugs and wildlife trafficking to raise funds, but, in the present and future, will use loopholes in digital security and the “anonymity” provided by block chain technology to access finances. Second, in a clear reference to Pakistan, he spoke of the need to link actions between the UN and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and for countries that “wilfully provide financial assistance and safe


Final blow: On U.S. policy reversal on Cuba

The Trump administration’s decision to redesignate Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, taken in its last days, appears to be a blatantly politicised move, bereft of any strategic or moral reasoning. In the announcement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited Cuba’s hosting of 10 Colombian rebels, a few American fugitives and its backing for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro as evidence for its “support for acts of international terrorism”. The designation now puts the Caribbean country with Iran, North Korea and Syria, and would trigger fresh sanctions, making it more difficult for Cuba to do business. Havana has stated that returning the Colombian rebels would complicate the peace process in which it is a mediator. With regard to Venezuela, Cuba is following a foreign policy which it thinks serves its best interests, dealing with the country’s government, irrespective of Washington’s opinion. Not even the harshest critics of the single-party communist government in Havana,


Imposing a compromise: On courts and laws

The Supreme Court’s interim order in the ongoing contestation between large sections of the farmers and the Centre over the new farm laws may be motivated by a laudable intention to break the deadlock in negotiations. However, it is difficult to shake off the impression that the Court is seeking to impose a compromise on the farmers’ unions. One portion of the order stays the three laws, seeks to maintain the Minimum Support Price as before and prevents possible dispossession of farmers of their land under the new laws. The stated reason is that the stay would “assuage the hurt feelings of the farmers” and encourage them to go to the negotiating table. However, it is somewhat disconcerting that the stay of legislation is effected solely as an instrument to facilitate the Court’s arrangement rather than on the basis of any identified legal or constitutional infirmities in the laws. The order forming a four-member committee may indeed help relieve the current tension and allay the

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