SC declines plea by Kerala rape victim to marry the rapist priest

News Network
August 2, 2021

New Delhi, Aug 2: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider a plea for bail to 53-year-old Kerala Catholic priest Robin Vadakkumchery to allow him to marry the girl whom he raped and impregnated when she was a minor.

A bench presided over by Justice Vineet Saran refused to entertain a special leave petition filed by the victim to permit her to marry the convicted priest.

Senior advocate Kiran Suri said the accused should be released to let him marry the victim.

The bench, however, asked him to go to the trial court.

Appearing for the accused, Advocate Amit George submitted that he sought bail so that he would be able to marry the petitioner. He also claimed that it was his fundamental right to marry the victim.

The bench, however, said the High Court has taken into consideration all the aspects of the matter, therefore we don't intend to interfere in the matter.

Vadakkumchery was sentenced to 20 years in jail on February 17, 2019, under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. He was dismissed from priesthood by the Vatican. 

Earlier, the Kerala High Court had turned down the plea by the convict. 

The priest was arrested on February 27, 2017, near Kochi International airport when he was trying to slip out of the country. The case against him was lodged by a child line agency. The girl, who was a student of class XI, gave birth to a child on February 7, 2017, at a hospital run by the management. During the trial, the victim and her mother had turned hostile. 

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News Network
September 17,2021

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Kasaragod: Nagma Mohammed Mallick, a native of Kasaragod has been appointed as the Indian Ambassador to Poland. She took charge of the office on September 1. Nagma is the daughter of Mohammad Habibullah and Sulu Bhanu, both residents of Fort Road, Kasaragod.

Habibullah and his family shifted to Delhi from Kasaragod after getting a job in the Central Government's Overseas Communications Department. Nagma was born and raised in Delhi. She studied at St. Stephen's College and Delhi School of Economics. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and a master's degree in economics.

She started her career in 1991 as a career diplomat in the foreign service. Her first assignment was to the UNESCO Indian Mission in Paris. Later, she worked in various departments of the Ministry of External Affairs. She also served as staff officer to former Prime Minister IK Gujral.

Nagma was in charge of the commercial wing at the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu. She was also an ambassador to Tunisia and Brunei. Her husband is Mallick, a lawyer in Delhi.

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coastaldigest.com news network
September 13,2021

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Mangaluru, Sept 13: Former union minister and veteran leader of Indian National Congress Oscar Fernandes passed away today after months after treatment at a private hospital in the city.

A prominent minority leader of INC, Fernades was the Union Cabinet Minister for Transport, Road and Highways and Labour and Employment, Government of India in UPA government. 

He was one of the closest confidants of the present Congress President Rahul Gandhi and one of the major leaders in the taking of important decisions of Congress Party. 

He was also the Chairman of Central Election Authority of the All India Congress Committee. He was the AICC General Secretary, the Minister of State (Independent charge) of the Ministry of Labour and Employment in Dr. Manmohan Singh's first UPA government in India. 

He served as Parliamentary Secretary to Rajiv Gandhi. He was elected to the 7th Lok Sabha in 1980 from Udupi constituency in Karnataka. He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1984, 1989, 1991 and 1996 from the same constituency. Later, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1998. He was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2004. He was a Union Minister from 2004 to 2009, holding a number of portfolios such as Statistics and Programme Implementation, NRI Affairs, Youth and Sports Affairs and Labour and Employment. He served two terms as a member of the Council of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

Personal life

Oscar was born on 27th March 1941 to Roque Fernandes, the head of Government Composite PU College and the first President of Manipal Institute of Technology and Leonissa M. Fernandes, the first female magistrate in India, at the family estate at Udupi. 

Fernandes was one of 12 children in his family, and grew up with a strong Catholic background. As a child he was an altar boy, and as a youth he was active in Church activities. His family belongs to the Fernandes-Prabhu clan, a Mangalorean Catholic clan from Udyavara in Udupi district. He married Blossom Mathias Prabhu on 26 August 1981 and has one son Oshan and one daughter Oshanie. His son Oshan is married to Frazil Quadros and Oscar's daughter Oshanie is married to Mark Saldanha. In 2002 Fernandes inaugurated the Glowinstar Academy, an integrated development school, in Ambalpady, dedicated to his father, Roque.

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News Network
September 23,2021

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has told Delhi High Court that Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief In Emergency Fund, or the PM-CARES Fund, which was created in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, does not come under the Government of India and it cannot be brought under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) Act. Also, the amount collected by it does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India, the Delhi High Court has been informed.

The Centre, in an affidavit, said that the Fund can neither be listed as "State" nor "public authority" under the Right to Information as it received funds from private sources.

An affidavit filed by an Under Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) who is discharging his functions in the PM Cares Trust on honorary basis, has said the trust functions with transparency and its funds are audited by an auditor -- a chartered accountant drawn from the panel prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

The affidavit was filed in response to a petition seeking a direction to declare the PM-CARES Fund a 'State' under the Constitution to ensure transparency in its functioning.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Amit Bansal has fixed the matter for further hearing on September 27.

"To ensure transparency, the audited report is put on the official website of the trust along with the details of utilisation of funds received by the trust,” says the affidavit filed by Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, Under Secretary at the PMO.

“I state that when the petitioner is claiming to be a public-spirited person and seeking to pray for various reliefs only for transparency, it does not matter whether PM-CARES is a ‘State’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India,” the officer said in the affidavit.

Irrespective of whether the trust is a ‘State’ or other authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution or whether it is a ‘public authority’ within the meaning of provisions of the Right to Information Act (RTI), it is not permissible to disclose third party information.It said that all donations received by the trust are received via online payments, cheques or Demand Drafts and the amount received is audited with the audited report and the expenditure of trust fund displayed on the website.

“The trust functions on the principles of transparency and public good in larger public interest like any other charitable trust and, therefore, cannot have any objection in uploading all its resolutions on its website to ensure transparency,” it said, while reiterating that “the trust’s fund is not a fund of Government of India and the amount does not go in the Consolidated Fund of India.”

The officer said he is discharging his functions in the PM-CARES Trust on honorary basis, which is a charitable trust not created by or under the Constitution or by any law made by the Parliament or by any State legislature. “Despite being an officer of the Central government, I am permitted to discharge my functions in PM-CARES Trust on an honorary basis,” he said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Samyak Gangwal who has said that the PM-CARES Fund is a 'State' as it was formed by the Prime Minister on March 27, 2020 to extend assistance to the citizens of India in the wake of the public health emergency -- the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic. His counsel had told the court that if it is found that the PM-CARES Fund is not 'State' under the Constitution, usage of the domain name '.gov.in', the Prime Minister's photograph, state emblem etc has to be stopped.

The petition said that the Trustees of the fund are the Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Home Minister and the Finance Minister and immediately after the formation of the fund, the Centre through its high government functionaries represented that the fund was set up and operated by the Government of India.

To ensure transparency and accountability, the plea has sought a direction for periodic auditing of PM-CARES website and disclosure of the details of donations received by it.

In his alterative prayers, Gangwal has sought to direct the Centre to publicise that the PM-CARES Fund is not a fund of the Government of India and to restrain PM-CARES from using 'Prime Minister of India' or 'Prime Minister', including its abbreviations its name, on its website, Trust Deed and other official or unofficial communications and advertisements.

On March 9, the court had said it was not inclined to issue notice on the plea as the Centre was already represented through counsel who may file their written submissions.

The petitioner has also filed another petition to declare PM-CARES as a 'public authority' under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, which is being heard together with the first plea.

This petition challenges a June 2, 2020 order of the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), PMO, refusing to provide documents sought by him on the ground that PM-CARES Fund is not a public authority under the RTI Act.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented PMO, had opposed the petition, stating that it was not maintainable and that he would file a response explaining why it should not be entertained. 

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