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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Daily Briefing: Bill to raise marriage age of women seeks to override laws across faith; Officials buy land in Ayodhya after SC cleared Ram temple

While the official Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust — set up in February 2020 — has so far acquired nearly 70 acres, private buyers are also rushing in anticipating hefty gains as the project gathers momentum. Even officialdom is hoping to cash in.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
December 22, 2021 8:12:17 am
A look at the top news today, January 12, 2021.

Good morning, 

The Big Story

Setting the stage for a debate on the limits of personal law, the government introduced a bill in Lok Sabha that seeks to raise the age of legal marriage for women from 18 to 21 and will apply to all communities in the country. Union Minister Smriti Irani, who introduced the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, said the proposed legislation was secular. “All women from all faiths, under Hindu Marriage Act or the Muslim Personal Law, should get equal rights to marry,” she said. It was sent to a Parliamentary Standing Committee for further discussion after Opposition parties opposed the Bill and questioned the “haste” with which it had been brought to the House.

Express Investigation 

As the Ram temple project gather momentum in Ayodhya, among the private buyers who rushed in to acquire land anticipating hefty gains include local MLAs, close relatives of bureaucrats who have or are serving in Ayodhya, and local revenue officials whose job is to authenticate land transactions, an investigation by The Indian Express has found. In 14 cases, records investigated by The Indian Express show, families of these officials bought land after the apex court verdict, all within a 5-km radius of the Ram temple site.

And in the flurry of land deals in Ayodhya, one set of transactions raises critical questions of propriety and conflict of interest. At least four buyers are closely related to officials probing the seller for alleged irregularities in land transfer from Dalit residents.

From the Front Page 

Even as the bill seeking to link electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem was pushed through Rajya Sabha amid acrimonious scenes and an Opposition walkout, Opposition members part of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice did not raise any red flag when it asked the government to undertake “appropriate actions” for “linking unique Aadhaar Card number with Voter ID Card” in March 2020. 

Warning that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is “at least three times more transmissible” than the Delta variant, the Centre directed states to impose strict restrictions in districts reporting high positivity rate, including imposition of night curfew, strict regulation of large gatherings and containment measures. The Centre also told the states to “activate” war rooms and keep analysing trends and surges.

Must Read 

Earlier this year, three children died and 16 were hospitalised after taking cough syrup prescribed at mohalla clinics in Delhi. A probe into the deaths is focussing on two possible causes — a higher dose being given or contamination in a specific batch of the medicine. One of the victims, three-year-old Ananya, took the medicine prescribed to her mother by mistake. “I went to bring three buckets of water. She drank the cough syrup while I was gone. She was playing when I returned, but 30 minutes later, she fell asleep and did not wake up,” the young girl’s mother recalled. 

During the Goa Assembly elections in February next year, the constituency of Poriem may witness an unexpected duel between a father and son. This comes after former CM and 11-time Congress MLA Pratap Singh Rane announced that he will contest the upcoming polls from Poriem, where he remains undefeated. His son, health minister and BJP MLA Vishwajit Rane, who will also contest from Poriem, said that his octogenarian father was under pressure to contest the election from the Congress’s central leadership at a time that he should be hanging his boots.

Urvashi Butalia on the legacy of feminist author and activist bell hooks: “Thinkers and activists like bell hooks are rare, and for that, they are also precious. One of hook’s strengths were her methods of communication — simple, unthreatening, funny, personal and filled with stories that, in a wonderful sleight of hand, connected to the larger questions that trouble all of us.”

More than a century after Sunder Singh Majithia became the first president of the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC), his great grandson Bikram Majithia is facing the biggest crisis in the family’s political history. Weeks ahead of the Assembly elections in Punjab, he was booked in a drugs case. We take a look at his family’s legacy and his political career. 

And Finally

There is a deeply entrenched un-erasable image of Dravid as mellowed and measured, dignified and graceful, with the bat as well as words. A good-boy image, as Dravid himself describes. But his stint as head coach of the Indian team can finally help him grow out of the persona. 

Delhi Confidential: With its heavy legislative agenda more or less sailing through in both Houses of Parliament, the government may propose sine die adjournment on Wednesday, a day ahead of schedule, sources said. If this happens, the suspension of Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien could be one of the shortest ones.

In today’s episode of ‘3 Things’, we talk about the political killings in Kerala. We also talk about the Delimitation panel’s proposal for J&K and the government’s recent order to block 20 YouTube channels. 

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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