The Hindu Editorial Daily News Analysis – 6th Jan 2018

Enabling a law

  • Supreme Court’s timeline to ensure full access for the disabled to public facilities is welcome
  • People with a disability form 2.21% of India’s population according to the 2011 Census
  • They have had a law for two decades to enable their full participation in societ
  • In response to a public interest petition •led by a visually handicapped activist, Court has issued a series of orders: that all government buildings should be made accessible by June 2019;
    • Half of all government buildings in the capital cities should meet accessibility norms by Dec 2018
    • Railways should present a report in three months on implementing station facilities;
    • 10% of government public transport must be fully accessible by March 2018; and
    • Advisory boards should be formed by the States and UnionTerritories in three months.
  • The court’s directions should be welcomed by the government and
  • Service providers as an opportunity to steer policy and practice towards a universal system
  • Transformation requires governments to also harness the power of newer technologies
  • With the help of information technology and smartphones, and provide affordable shared transport using accessible vehicles.
  • Given the emphasis on smart cities and upgraded urban facilities – highest priority
  • Railways should embark on an urgent programme
  • Cost is not the barrier to improving facilities; what is in short supply is the political will to change the design of public facilities
  • Strengthen the rights of the disabled, should demonstrate the will to implement it.

Game for talks

  • Resumption of dialogue between the two Koreas reignites hopes of a détente(Easing of hostility)
  • South Korean President Moon Jae­in’s proposal to delay the controversial joint military exercises between SK & USA
  • Beijing’s suggestion for a freeze on joint military exercises betweenWashington and Seoul
    in exchange for a halt to Pyongyang’s nuclear programme
  • U.S.-backedTerminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, raising fears that its radars could snoop on Chinese security infrastructure.
  • But the idea never received serious consideration from the U.S.,as forcing Kim Jong-un,
  • The North Korean autocrat, to completely give up the programme
  • International sanctions and a possible reconciliation withWashington.
  • Immediate trigger to the revival of dialogue is the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month.
  • North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launches and nuclear explosions have raised global alarm over the region’s safety for travel and tourism, not to mention security during the Games.
  • Memories of the downing by North Korea of a civilian aircraft ahead of the 1988 Seoul Olympics
  • Beijing had imposed an unofficial…blockade on South Korean trade, tourism and entertainment fol lowing theTHAAD missile installation last year.
  • Mr. Moon, a former human rights lawyer, has been staunch advocate of a negotiated resolution of the North Korean nuclear stand-off•
  • There will no doubt be many obstacles on that ambitious path.

This too is a right

  • Joseph Shine v. Union of India,petition challenging constitutional validity of criminal prohibition on Adultery under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, has now been referred to Constitution Bench by the SC.
  • Generally speaking, in a marital bond based on love and trust
  • Civil laws in the country provide for adultery as a ground for divorce
  • The right to engage in sexual intercourse is an intrinsic part of the right to privacy.
  • Privacy has to invariably contain the right to bodily integrity, self-determination and
    sexual autonomy
  • By criminalising adultery, the state is in fact showing a paternalistic attitude by telling individuals how to lead their lives and what behaviour to adopt
  • None of the European countries has criminalised adultery
  • In most of South America, adultery is no longer a crime.
  • Many States in the U.S. have either repealed adultery laws or put them to disuse
  • Following this global trend, in 2012, a working group of the United Nations called
    upon countries to do away with laws penalising adultery.
  • In fact, in the celebrated privacy judgment in K.S. Puttaswamy (2017)
  • The right to sexual privacy is increasingly recognised in jurisprudence around the world
  • Judgment in Suresh Kumar Koushal (2013) upholding the criminalisation of voluntary sexual
    intercourse between those of the same sex remains a serious blow to the right to sexual freedom.
  • However, subsequently, in NALSA v. Union of India (2014), the Court said that the value
    of privacy is fundamental to those of the transgender community.
  • It is also equally crucial that the right to sexual privacy forms a distinct and independent ground which makes the law on adultery further vulnerable to constitutional scrutiny.