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 ■ ■ BHUBANESWAR l Saturday l september 30, 2023 l `9.00 l PAGES 14 l LATE CITY EDITION A powerful blast ripped through a Balochistan mosque, killing 54; hours later, 4 persons died in an explosion at a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa mosque | p11 Canada figures Tinker not with consent age, in India-US talks amend POCSO Act: Law panel Y E S H I s E L I @ New Delhi EXTERNAL Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is on a fiveday visit to the US till September 30, said on Friday that India’s diplomatic row with Canada came up during 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 EastEurope 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. New Delhi will While the official statement issued by host the fifth the US Department of State was mum edition of India-US on the controversy over the killing of a 2+2 Ministerial Canada-based terrorist, Jaishankar latDialogue er confirmed that he discussed the issue S Jaishankar, External with Blinken and US National Security Affairs Minister Advisor Jake Sullivan during their meeting at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department. 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 while speaking at an event organised by Washington-based think tank the Hudson Institute on Friday Explaining India’s concerns, he said . Indian diplomats are unsafe in Canada. “They are publicly intimidated. And that has actually compelled me to temporarily suspend even visa operations in Canada,” he added. express read ‘China threat to rules-based world’ New Delhi : Chinese belligerence is presenting a threat to the rules-based international order, Army Chief General MK Pande said on Friday, while mulling over the emerging geo-strategic issues that have relevance from India’s perspective | P9 Suggests limited discretion on sentencing to spl court if there is tacit consent Sh r u t i K a kk a r @ New Delhi The Law Commission of India on Friday advised the government 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. Recommends calibrated eFIR rollout Sh r u t i K a kk 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. 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 sub-section (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 age-appropriate 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 Form high-level panel for Ratna Bhandar inventory: HC E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Cuttack The Orissa High Court on Friday directed the state government to constitute a high-level panel, if approached by Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee (SJTMC), for supervising the process of inventory of valuables including jewellery stored in the Ratna Bhandar. “Such committee be constituted by the state government within a period of 60 days from the date when SJTMC will approach them. The said committee shall assist the SJTMC in carrying out the inventory”, the court said. The court issued the direction while disposing of a PIL filed by senior BJP leader Samir Mohanty which had raised two important issues - safety of the Puri Jagannath Temple’s Ratna Bhandar (treasury) and transparency in respect of the valuable articles stored in it. While senior advocate Buddhadev Routray represented SJTMC, senior advocate Pitambar Acharya argued on the petitioner’s behalf. The division bench of Chief Justice Subhasis Talapatra and Justice Savitri Ratho said, “Even if we dismiss the writ petition on the question of locus standi, that dismissal may not refrain the court from delving deeper into these questions as Shri Jagannath Temple is the beacon of ultimate Continued on P7 faith of millions of people.”
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