November 4, 1977, Forty Years Ago

By: Editorials | Published: November 4, 2017 12:29 am
November 4, 1977

Raising marriage age

The Union Cabinet decided to raise the minimum age of marriage for males from 18 to 21 and for females from 15 to 18 years. The decision would require amendment of the Child Marriages Restraint Act. The proposed amendment is likely to be moved in the next session of Parliament. The proposal for raising the age of marriage has been pending before successive governments. The question before the Cabinet was whether the offences under the proposed legislation should be made cognisable or not. The Cabinet approved the proposal that these offences should be made cognisable. The Cabinet also decided that even if the offences are made cognisable, police will not make arrests without a warrant.

Emergency excess

All the Emergency excesses of which the Shah Commission has heard evidence till now pale into insignificance before the case of 10 junior officers of the Union government, who were incarcerated for nine months under MISA because they had dared to check and detain a consignment of garments being exported by Sanjay Gandhi’s mother-in-law, Amteshwar Anand. The relatives of the officers knocked at all possible doors, but to no avail. One of the relatives met Sanjay Gandhi, who remarked that they “need to be taught a lesson”. They met the lieutenant governor of Delhi, Kishan Chand, the special assistant to the commerce minister, N.K. Singh, who had allegedly started the whole process of arrests — and the commerce minister, D.P. Chattopadhyaya. But it was no use.

Shukla’s defence

It was every man for himself as the Shah Commission wound up hearing evidence on the Emergency misuse of the news media. Admitting that he passed many censorship orders, which Justice Shah had termed palpably illegal, V.C. Shukla, I&B minister in the Indira Gandhi government, told the commission that “no officer was supposed to obey any orders which transgressed any law”.

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