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Foreign hand, domestic rights in PMLA, FCRA judgments

SC ruling on money-laundering

The Supreme Court of India has upheld the validity of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) that gives sweeping powers to the Enforcement Directorate, leaves the accused with no bail, forces them to self-incriminate, and shifts the burden of proof to the accused. The ED is frequently using PMLA against political opponents of the ruling BJP, but the Court agreed with the government’s reasoning that the Act came out of an international commitment. Justice AM Khanwilkar wrote the judgment for the Special Bench that also included Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar.

The judiciary is the last resort of the citizen to seek protection from the highhandedness that the executive often displays, and the PMLA has been a strong and ruthless instrument of that power. Occasionally, the apex court shows that resolve, and keeps the hope of democracy alive. On July 11, an SC bench issued fresh guidelines regarding arrest and bail.

The complete judicial endorsement of PMLA’s draconian provision takes the opposite direction. As our editorial points out, “undergirding every aspect of its analysis is a belief that India’s commitment to the international community on strengthening the domestic legal framework for combating money-laundering is so inviolable that possible violation of fundamental rights can be downplayed.”

The ‘foreign hand’ logic operates in opposite directions in the PMLA judgment and an SC judgment that upheld new government restrictions on foreign contributions to Indian civil society organizations earlier in 2022. The same judge who spoke about international commitments that India must adhere to even at the cost of constitutional guarantees to its citizens – Justice Khanwilkar – had a slightly different view on foreign influence on domestic issues of India. He reasoned in the judgment that there was a requirement to prevent democratic polity, public institutions and “individuals working in the national democratic space from being unduly influenced with the aid of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality received from foreign source.”

Federalism Tract

Tribal at the helm; tribal ace hindu

The election of Droupadi Murmu as the 15th President of the Republic is a demonstration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to the empowerment of tribespeople who constitute 9% of the population, according to Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Mr. Shah wrote an op-ed in which he detailed the string of measures that the Modi government has taken towards that end.

The debate over tribal identity and the concerted effort by Hindu organizations to incorporate tribal communities as followers of the Vedic religion is intense in the tribal heartlands of the country. “….tribal activists led by outfits such as the Kendriya Sarna Samiti (KSS) are resisting these efforts saying the Hindu groups have taken a page out of the playbook of Christian missionaries to subsume their distinctive culture and identity under the umbrella of Hinduism by ‘brainwashing’ the poorest tribal people’,” writes Abhinay Lakshman who traveled through Jharkhand.

Thinking, innovating in Indian languages

Science, law, medicine and engineering should be taught in Indian languages, and only then will the country be able to unlock the full potential of its talent, according to Union Home Minister Amit Shah. He said 95% receive primary education in their mother tongue, but they are not able to pursue higher education in their mother tongue. Mr. Shah said research and development can only be done when one thinks in their own language, and this was one of the reasons that India is lagging in research, and that now the use of regional languages ​​in engineering and medical education is being expanded.

The Aryan-Dravidian debate

Manuraj Shunmugasundaram, spokesperson of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), argues that Aryans did migrate to India. “With modern day advancements in handling fragile biodegradable material from excavation sites and also high-throughput genomic sequencing, we now understand how the Indian subcontinent was populated through waves of migration,” he says.

The Dravidian movement’s origins were in colonial propaganda and thoughts, according to another contributor this week.

“The concerns of the founding fathers — addressing socio-economic inequities — were forgotten in the process of ushering in an era of political centralization and cultural nationalism that drive today’s fiscal policy,” argues this piece on the weakening of India’s fiscal federalism.

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