TIRUCHY l saturday l september 30, 2023 l `9.00 l PAGES 14 l late city EDITION Twin suicide blasts in mosques kill 58 worshippers in Pakistan A powerful blast ripped through a Balochistan mosque, killing 54; hours later, 4 persons died in an explosion at a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa mosque Scores injured, some in critical condition The explosion at Balochistan occurred near Madina Mosque on Al Falah Road in the Mastung district when people had gathered in large numbers to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Mohammed. The suicide bomber blew himself up as rallies from neighbourhood mosques converged at a meeting point. Scores were injured and a few are said to be in critical condition | P9 500 Roof of mosque collapses in 2nd attack ■ A second suicide attack by two men at a mosque hundreds of kms away in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province led to a roof collapse that killed four persons ■ No terror group operating in the region has taken responsibility for the twin attacks, though security officials suspect the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (the Pakistani Taliban) or the Islamic State group may be behind the explosions People had gathered in Mastung when the suicide bomber blew himself up CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Tinker not with consent age, amend POCSO Act: Law panel Suggests limited discretion on sentencing to spl court if there is tacit consent S h r u t i K a k k a r @ New Delhi The Law Commission of India on Friday advised the government to not to reduce the existing age of consent from 18 to 16 years under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, saying else it could provide a safe harbour to coerce minors into subjugation, marital rape and other forms of abuse, including trafficking. The Act criminalises all sexual activity for those under the age of 18 years regardless of mutual consent. To address the problem, the panel suggested giving limited discretion on sentencing to special courts in cases of mutual consent. Carving out a limited judicial discretion at the stage of sentencing by a special court is more reasonable if consent is established, the panel said. “It has to be further ensured that such a discretionary power is provided in such a manner that it is well guided and insulated from any potential misuse as far as possible. In this context, as to when such a discretion will come into play and who will determine if at all it applies, becomes relevant,” the Commission said in its Report No. 283 titled “Age of Consent under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.” Only a judicially trained mind can appropriately determine whether the consent was indeed free from coercion, deception, fraud or undue influence. This would require proper investigation and evidence being adduced so as to determine if any reduction in sentence is warranted, the report said. The panel headed by retired Karnataka high court chief justice Ritu Raj Awasthi said lowering the age of consent would reduce the POCSO Act to a paper law. “The consent of a child is no consent and reading the same would be deeply problematic... The very real possibility of young girls being easily seduced in love traps and then sold off in trafficking cannot and should not be ignored. Any element of consent can be misused and may lead to children being at the mercy of adult abusers,” it said. The report recommended amending provisions dealing with punishment for penetrative sexual assault and sexual assault under the POCSO Act (Section 4 and 8) by adding provisions empowering a special court to impose lesser sentence in cases of tacit consensual sex by taking into consideration related factors. Empower spl courts Amendments suggested include allowing special courts to impose a lesser sentence than the minimum prescribed under subsection (1) of the POCSO Act. The decision would be based on a thorough evaluation of the facts and circumstances of each case Sex education Comprehensive and ageappropriate sex education should be made a mandatory part of school curriculum. Children must be made aware of their body & physiological & psychological changes they experience while growing Commission for calibrated eFIR rollout S h r u t i K a k k a r @ New Delhi The Law Commission of India on Friday recommended for putting in motion the process for registration of online FIRs (eFIRs) in a phased manner saying that clinging on to an archaic system of lodging FIRs does not augur well for criminal reforms. It suggested eFIRs for all cognisable offences where the accused is not known. In case the accused is known, it recommended permission for eFIRs for cognisable offences where the punishment is up to three years in jail. This would not only protect the accused from arrest but also mandate the police to adhere to the guidelines regarding arrest laid down in various Supreme Court rulings, the panel said. In case its recommendations are effective, the Law Commission suggested that states can expand the list of offences for which e-FIR may be registered in future. However, permitting the filing of eFIRs in all cases at present would cause extremely high investigative burden on police, the panel reasoned. Canada figures in India-US talks: MEA Shops across Bengaluru were shut due to the bandh called by several Kannada outfits on Friday | Shashidhar Byrappa ‘K’taka must give 3K cusecs of water to TN’ E X PRESS NEWS SER V ICE @ Chennai The Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) on Friday brushed aside stiff opposition from Karnataka and upheld the September 26 directive of the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) ordering release of 3,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu till October 15. Tamil Nadu officials had sought 12,500 cusecs for 15 days to save standing crops at the meeting. Sources said Karnataka officials took a tough stand saying the upper riparian state was not in a position to release water to Tamil Nadu as water available in the four Cauvery basin reservoirs was insufficient to meet the irrigation and drinking water needs of several districts in Karnataka. After the meeting, a Karnataka official told reporters that Tamil Nadu urged CWMA to direct Karnataka to release the backlog of 12 tmcft and 12,500 cusecs of water per day but the authority rejected the demands. Tamil Nadu has the advantage of northeast monsoon but Karnataka does not have that. Tamil Nadu also has groundwater but the state misuses it, the of ficial claimed. P5 Y ESHI s ELI @ New Delhi EXTERNAL Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is on a five-day visit to the US till September 30, said on Friday that the diplomatic row with Canada came up during his discussions with his US counterpart Antony Blinken a day earlier. On Thursday Jaishankar had , met Blinken and discussed a full range of issues including the key outcomes of India’s G20 presidency and the potential of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor. Blinken and Jaishankar “emphasised the continued importance of cooperation ahead of the upcoming 2+2 Dialogue, in particular in the areas of defence, space, and clean energy”, US Department of Space spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement. The 2+2 dialogue is a format of meeting between the two countries’ defence and foreign ministers. While the official statement issued by the US Department of State was mum on the controversy over the killing of a Canada-based terrorist, Jaishankar later confirmed that the issue was indeed discussed with Blinken and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan during their meeting at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department. Speaking at an event organised by Washington-based think tank the Hudson Institute, the foreign minister said the US side shared its assessments on the whole situation and he explained at length about India’s concerns. “Hopefully we both came out of the meeting better informed,” he added. The US side shared its assessments on the whole situation and he explained at length about India’s concerns. Hopefully we both came out of the meeting better informed External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar 31 yrs on, HC holds all officials guilty in Vachathi rape case R SI V AKUMAR @ Chennai The Madras High Court on Friday upheld a 2011 trial court order convicting over 200 forest, revenue and police department officials for raping tribal women and ransacking tribal habitations at Vachathi village in Dharmapuri district during a raid for smuggled sandalwood in 1992. Justice P Velmurugan also ordered the state to pay `10 lakh as compensation to each of the 18 rape victims, give suitable government jobs to them or their family members, and take livelihood enhancement measures. The court also rapped the then state govern‘Fake cases ment (led by AIADMK) for on villagers’ failing to act on complaints of “There are no brutality and shielding errant materials to show officials. Dismissing the aponly smugglers were peals filed by officials, the HC arrested. People said “the prosecution has against whom proved the charges through officials had filed witnesses and documents.” cases were innocent Faulting the then Dharvillagers,” HC said mapuri collector and district forest officer for not acting on complaints, the judge said 50% of the `10 lakh to be paid to each of the victims should be recovered from the officials convicted for rape of 18 tribal women, including a 13-year-old minor and an eightmonth pregnant woman. The appeals were filed by 215 of 269 officials against a 2011 order of the Dharmapuri principal sessions court. The remaining accused died during the course of the trial. P5 e x p r e ss r e a d Jayachandran to hear suo motu revision cases Chennai: With change of roster at the Madras HC, Justice N Anand Venkatesh, who initiated suo motu revisions in graft cases against several sitting ministers and former ministers, has been moved to the Madurai Bench of the Madras HC. From October 3, Justice G Jayachandran, who has been handed over the portfolio concerning cases against MPs and MLAs, will hear the suo motu revision cases | P2 Retail chain MD’s son rams car, injures three Chennai: S Yogesh Ratnam (26), son of Sabapathy Rajaratnam, MD of Super Saravana Stores in Porur, rammed his car into three commuters on Thursday midnight, leaving them severely injured. Police said Yogesh Ratnam was not drunk at the time and let him off on station bail. The accident happened on Anna Salai near Teynampet police station | P4
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