Black and grey: On terror funding and Pakistan

The deliberations, in Beijing, of the Asia-Pacific joint group of the global watchdog on terror financing and money laundering, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), gave Pakistan some encouraging news: that it had progressed in its efforts to avoid a blacklisting. A final decision will be taken at a plenary meeting of the body, expected in Paris next month: in keeping Pakistan on the current “grey list”, downgrading it to a “black list”, or letting it off altogether for the moment. The 39-member body had determined that Pakistan was to be placed on the grey list in 2018, and presented it a 27-point list of actions. These included freezing the funds of UN Security Council entities such as 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed and the LeT, the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and other Taliban-affiliated groups. The actions entailed a sustained effort to bring legal action against these groups, and also called for changes to Pakistani law in line with global standards for measures against money

Dubious decision: On NIA takeover of Bhima Koregaon case

The Home Ministry’s abrupt decision to transfer the investigation into the Bhima Koregaon cases in Maharashtra to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is an unwarranted interference in the police powers of the State. It is clearly aimed at preventing the new regime in Maharashtra from reviewing the controversial probe done under the BJP-led government through a Special Investigation Team of its own. The Pune police have filed a charge sheet against known rights defenders and activists on the grave charge of being part of a Maoist plot against the government, basing their claim on purported material seized from computers during raids. What began as a case relating to alleged provocative speeches during the ‘Elgar Parishad’, an event held on December 31, 2017, to commemorate a military victory of Dalits against the Peshwa army 200 years earlier, followed by some incidents of violence, was then transformed into a sinister plot to overthrow the government, allegedly at the behest of the

Amorphous politics: On rumblings in the JD(U)

The rumblings in the Janata Dal (United) over its alliance with the BJP puts the spotlight on the curious history and character of the regional party and its leader Nitish Kumar. Opportunism is easily forgiven, and often celebrated as pragmatism in politics, and the JD(U) has mastered it to perfection. The party has always been little more than a personal fiefdom of the Bihar Chief Minister but his upbringing as a socialist, social justice politician had occasionally given a redeeming allure to it. However, what has come to stick is his chequered association with the BJP and breathtaking political somersaults in the past that reflect the degrading absence of a moral compass. Nitish Kumar had remained a Minister in the Union Cabinet through the 2002 Gujarat riots, and became the CM in 2005 with the BJP’s support. In 2015, dusting up his social justice hat to stitch an alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD, Mr. Kumar defeated the BJP. Within two years, he broke the alliance with the RJD


Justice for Rohingya: On International Court of Justice ruling

The unanimous ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), on Thursday, on the prevention of alleged acts of genocide against Rohingya Muslims has finally pinned legal responsibility on Myanmar’s government for the military’s large-scale excesses of 2017. Crucial is the Hague court’s stipulation that the civilian government of Ms. Suu Kyi submit an update, within four months, of the steps it has taken to preserve evidence of the systemic brutalities. Yangon has also been asked to furnish six-monthly reports thereafter, until the conclusion of the case, which relates to genocide accusations. The court has further emphasised that an estimated 600,000 Rohingya resident in Myanmar still remained highly vulnerable to attacks from the security forces. The ruling vindicates findings by the UN and human rights groups on the prevalence of hate speech, mass atrocities of rape and extra-judicial killings, and torching of villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine province, leading to the forced


Needless impatience: On Centre’s plea on death row convicts

The Centre’s application in the Supreme Court for additional guidelines regarding the execution of condemned prisoners betrays a needless impatience to hang the four convicts facing the gallows for the rape and murder of ‘Nirbhaya’ in 2012. The Ministry of Home Affairs essentially seeks the incorporation of measures aimed at reducing the scope for death row convicts to adopt dilatory tactics. Even though there may be some evidence to believe that convicts tend to file review petitions, mercy petitions and curative petitions in such a way that their execution is indefinitely delayed, it is difficult to attribute their conduct to the supposedly “accused-centric” nature of the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in Shatrughan Chauhan (2014). These guidelines were undoubtedly aimed at protecting the constitutional rights of prisoners in the context of a sound body of jurisprudence that maintains that such rights extend right up to the moment of their execution. The court was anxious

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