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Government assures that ‘Aadhaar not mandatory for mobile SIM’

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If you haven’t linked your Aadhaar to your mobile number this might come as a relief. The government has issued instructions to operators to accept alternative identification documents such as driving license, passport and voter ID card.

Mobile companies have been asked to follow the instructions “immediately” so that consumers are not inconvenienced, said telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan.

“The ministry has issued instructions to all telecom companies, asking them not to deny a SIM card to any individual who does not have an Aadhaar number. We have asked them to accept other forms of KYC (know your customer) documents, and continue to issue SIM cards,” the telecom secretary was reported as saying.

It is also understood that the government has asked mobile companies to “take it easy” on the issue of re-verification of mobile numbers with Aadhaar.

The Aadhaar issue had not only impacted local residents, but even NRIs and foreigners visiting the country. Since the majority of such individuals did not have an Aadhaar card, retailers of mobile companies had started denying them SIM cards. Mobile operators have so far refused to comment on the matter. However, official sources said the government has taken it very seriously.

The move comes after the apex Court had criticized the Centre for using its earlier order on ‘mandatory authentication of users’ as a ‘tool’ by asking telecom companies to link their mobile numbers with Aadhaar.

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Tandoor case: HC asks Delhi govt why Sushil Sharma not released after 29 years of incarceration

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Sushil Sharma

New Delhi | The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the city government why former youth Congress leader Sushil Kumar Sharma, serving life term in the 1995 murder case of his wife Naina Sahni, has not been released after having undergone 29 years of incarceration.

Terming the issue as “serious”, the court issued notice to the Delhi government and sought its stand on Sharma’s habeas corpus plea seeking release from custody in the case on the grounds that he has been jailed for 29 years, including the period of remission, and his continued incarceration was illegal.

A bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal asked the Secretary, Home Department and Secretary of Law and Justice department to be present before it on the next date of hearing, December 18, with the original records of Sharma’s application to the Sentence Review Board (SRB) for premature release and the reasons for rejecting it.

The bench said that “life and liberty of any individual is of paramount consideration” and asked the Delhi government how someone can be kept in custody “indefinitely”. Sharma, in prison since 1995, has contended that he has already undergone the maximum prescribed sentence as mandated under the SRB guidelines.

According to his plea, the guidelines on premature release state that life convicts sentenced for a single offence are to be released after completion of 20 years of incarceration and those who had committed heinous crimes are to be granted the relief after 25 years.

The petition, filed through advocate Amit Sahni, has said even though Sharma’s case falls in the first category, he has also undergone 29 years of incarceration, with remission, and 23 years and six months, without remission.

Now 56, Sharma had shot dead his wife in 1995 objecting to her alleged relationship with a male friend. He had then chopped her body into pieces and attempted to burn it in a restaurant oven. Known as the tandoor murder case, it is one of the landmark cases in India in which DNA evidence and a second autopsy were used to establish the guilt of the accused.

In his plea, Sharma has contended that his conduct in prison and while out on parole has been “exemplary” and he has never misused his liberty. Apart from that, he has also argued that even the Supreme Court, while commuting his death sentence to life imprisonment, had held that he was not a confirmed criminal and there was no evidence to indicate that he was likely to revert to such crimes in future.

Another ground on which he has sought release from custody is that both his parents are over 80 years old and suffering from various ailments and there is no one to look after them.

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Army to extend support to disabled war veterans: General Rawat

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Hyderabad | The Army is taking efforts to compile data on war veterans who suffered disability so as to provide them support, including prosthetic limbs in needed cases, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said on Friday.

Gen. Rawat, here to attend the Convocation Ceremony at the Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering (MCEME), said the aim was also to motive the disabled soldiers that disability does not mean they cannot do anything. “What we are doing is, firstly we are identifying these people. There are disabled soldiers some of them are in the village. Some are elsewhere. Some got disabled in the 1965 war. Some in the 1971 war. They are now very, very old. So, the idea is to first identify and see how their condition is,” he told reporters here.
He was replying to a question on the Army’s plans to extend the support system to soldiers who suffered disability
in the line of duty.

Gen Rawat said the Army was looking at compiling data on the present condition of the veterans. “And once we have compiled the data… then we have to work out the kind of support we have to give them… It is not just monthly support and some people need prosthetic limbs,” he said. The army was now providing very good artificial limbs and artificial systems which can help the affected lead a near-normal life, he said.

Noting that there were two distinct types of people who get disabled while serving the army, the General said some, who lost parts like an eye or a hand, need the support of family members and there were others who were disabled because of service conditions, stress and even lifestyle diseases, but can take care of themselves. Hence, there should be distinct support for the two types of disabled persons.

Earlier, Rawat, in his convocation address, said the graduating officers need to harness the latest technologies. “As technology refines and research throws open new vistas, your challenge would be to harness the latest technologies for the benefit of our great Indian Army,” he said.

He also said future battlespace would be dominated by guided missiles, Artificial Intelligence, unmanned platforms, robots, and network-centric operations.

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Have ‘constricted power’ to review government decisions pertaining to nation’s security, says SC

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New Delhi | The judiciary has “constricted power” to review the decision of procuring 36 Rafale fighter jets as it was crucial to the nation’s sovereignty and the government has far “more leeway” in such matters, the Supreme Court said on Friday.

The top court, which junked pleas challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of Rafale jets, dealt extensively in its verdict with the scope and ambit of judicial review of such decisions, including on defence procurement, taken by the government.

Holding that the apex court has “constricted power of judicial review”, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, “the scrutiny of the challenges before us…will have to be made keeping in mind the confines of national security, the subject of the procurement is crucial to the nation’s sovereignty”.

The bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, said the deal in question did not pertain to the construction of road or bridges. “We also cannot lose sight of the tender in issue. The tender is not for construction of roads, bridges, etc. It is a defence tender for procurement of aircraft. The parameter of scrutiny would give far more leeway to the Government, keeping in mind the nature of the procurement itself.

“The triple ground on which such judicial scrutiny is permissible has been consistently held to be ‘illegality’, ‘irrationality’ and ‘procedural impropriety’,” it said. The top court said however that the scope of judicial review would vary with the subject matter of the contract and there cannot be any uniform standard which could be understood as an “across the board principle to apply to all cases of an award of work or procurement of goods/material”.

Referring to various judgments, it said the award of contracts is essentially a commercial transaction and such decisions are “not open to judicial scrutiny unless it is found that the same have been tailor-­made to benefit any particular tenderer or a class of tenderers”.

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