News Wrap


The Muslim personal Law provides great latitude for ensuring the rights of women as far as marriage, divorce, maintenance etc. are concerned. Marriage between a Muslim man and woman is not a sacrament but a contract. The nikahnamahs in India, date from the 1700s, and are proof that Muslim brides can ensure their rights at the time of marriage. In most Muslim marriages, printed copies of nikahnamahs sanctioned by ‘religious’ authorities are used. The rights of the bride are conspicuously absent in these. The original nikahnamahs prescribed a generous amount as mehr. Four conditions agreed by the groom include that the groom will not marry again; no physical violence by the groom; if the groom separates from his wife, then the wife will have the right to divorce him and retain her rights over mehr, valuables and property; and if it is discovered that the husband has taken a concubine/slave girl, the wife will be entitled to take ownership of the woman in question, sell her and keep the proceeds. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has promised the Supreme Court that it will draft a model Nikahmaha, which will restrict the practice of triple talaq. The Muslim Law Board has often made such promises in the past.

Banning Sale of Cattle
Supplies of cow and buffalo meat in states of India has been severely restricted, where it is not illegal. This has resulted from a new set of rules introduced in the last week of May 2017, aimed at regulating animal markets, popularly known as ‘pashu hatts’ or ‘pashu melas’. The Union Environment Ministry new rules called the Regulation of Livestock Market Rules and framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960), aims to prevent cruelty to animals and streamlining trade in cattle. The new rules also seek to ensure that the animal markets can no longer be used to sell or purchase cattle, for slaughtering them for meat. These rules would apply to bulls, cows, buffaloes and camels. Animal Market Committees are required to be formed in every district, to ensure that the purchaser of the cattle does not further kill the animal for purpose of slaughter. Under these rules, the seller and the buyer have to ensure that cattle has not been bought or sold in the market for slaughter purposes. The Union Government’s move has come under attack in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Bengal. The Supreme Court on 11 July 2017 extended the Madras High Court’s stay order, on the Union Government of India’s notification, banning sale or purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter to rest of India.

Evictions in Dharamsala
Dharamsala in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh is included in India’s ‘‘Smart City List’’. In June 2016, a settlement of 290-odd families was evicted from Charan Khad in Dharamsala, where they had been residing for close to three decades. About 1500 people were evicted in the slum demolition drive. The evicted people, comprising mainly migrants from Rajasthan and Maharashtra, belonging to the scheduled castes, were working as rag pickers, street vendors and daily wage labourers. For the last thirty years, the slum dwellers were not provided any sort of sanitation of basic facilities. Even then, the eviction was conducted on a health issue, that the practice of open defecation by slum dwellers was a public hazard. This is the first large eviction, carried out by a municipal corporation in Himachal Pradesh. Hundreds of evicted slum dwellers are continuing with a campaign, ‘‘city makers for justice’’. The eviction without providing any rehabilitation is a clear violation of the fundamental rights of the evicted slum dwellers, for right to shelter guaranteed to every citizen, under Article 21 of the Constitution. Charan Khad is yet to be declared a slum area, under the 1979 Slum Act.

Reversing Us-Cuba Detente
In the third week of June 2017, President Donald Trump of USA reinstated travel and commercial restrictions, eased by the Obama administration, in an attempt to obtain additional concessions, from the Cuban government. Americans will no longer be able to plan their own private trips to Cuba. Those who go as part of authorised educational tours will be subject to strict new rules and audits, to ensure that they are not going just as tourists. American companies and citizens are barred from doing business with any firm controlled by the Cuban military or its intelligence or security services, walling off crucial parts of the economy, including much of the tourist sector, from American access. Embassies in Washington and Havana will stay open. Crises and direct flights between USA and Cuba will be protected under an exception from the prohibition on transactions with military controlled entities. Cuban-Americans will continue to have the ability to travel freely to Cuba island, and send money to relatives there. US is not lifting sanctions on Cuba, unless it releases all political prisoners and respects freedoms. Trump has stated that he does not want US dollars to prop up military monopolies that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba. The government of Cuba has denounced the new measures, toughening the 1962 embargo.

Vol. 50, No.16, Oct 22 - 28, 2017