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TN High Court judge to learn about same sex relationships before delivering verdict




Our Special Correspondent


In an unprecedented move, a judge of the Madras High Court decided last Wednesday to undergo psychoeducation before delivering a judgment on same sex relationships.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh feels words on the subject should come from his heart and not from his head. He has requested a psychologist to give him an appointment so that the professional can help him understand such relationships and pave the way for “his evolution”.

Passing interim orders on a petition filed by two young women with same sex orientation, the judge said on Wednesday: “Insofar as the request made by the learned counsel S. Manuraj, for the petitioners, to set out guidelines in cases of this nature is concerned, I want to give myself some more time to churn. Ultimately, in this case, the words must come from my heart and not from my head, and the same will not be possible if I am not fully woke on this aspect.”

Hence, he wanted to subject himself to psychoeducation with Vidya Dinakaran, a psychologist and an expert working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. “If I write an order after undergoing psychoeducation, I trust that the words will fall from my heart.”

Fearing threats to their lives from their parents, the two women graduates from Madurai Kamaraj University had approached the High Court last month. They had fled home, taken refuge at the International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care, a non-governmental organisation in Chennai, and are looking for jobs.

After holding in-camera proceedings with them and their parents, the judge found that they all required counselling by a psychologist and accordingly asked them to attend a session with Ms. Dinakaran.

After the first round of counselling, the psychologist submitted a report on Wednesday. In it, she said the petitioners perfectly understand the relationship between them, and have absolutely no confusion in their minds. They want to continue their education and work as well as stay in touch with their parents. However, the women fear that their parents may force them to get separated now, and are willing to wait until the latter could understand the relationship.

On the mental state of the parents, she opined that they were more concerned about the stigma attached to the relationship in society and the consequences that may ensue on their families. The parents are also concerned about the safety and security of their respective daughters.

The report said that the parents would rather prefer their daughters to live a life of celibacy, which according to them will be more dignified than having a partner of the same sex. They also have serious confusions regarding the lineage, adoption and other normal consequences that follow a heterosexual relationship, and as to how the same will apply in a case of same sex relationship.

After taking the report on file, the judge said the parents cannot not be expected to change their notions overnight.

Therefore, he directed them to attend one more counselling session before the case could be heard next on June 7.

On March 31, Justice Venkatesh wrote that he was trying to break his own preconceived notions about same sex relationships and was in the process of evolving and sincerely attempting to understand the feelings of people involved in such relationships and also that of their parents to whom such relationships involving their children come as a rude shock.

Passing interim orders on a petition filed by the two young women with same sex orientation, the judge sent the petitioners and their parents for counselling to an expert working with Vidya Dinakaran, who works with the LGBT community and obtain a report.

He wrote: “I personally spent time doing research and collecting materials to arrive at a proper understanding of this issue. It would have been possible for me to pack my order with a lot of research material and get applauded by the outside world for rendering a scholarly order. However, there was a call from inside which kept reminding me that if I venture into such an exercise at this stage, it will only be hypocritical of me since the order will not reveal my true and honest feeling about this very important issue.”  

“To be open, I am also trying to break my own preconceived notions about this issue. I am in the process of evolving, and sincerely attempting to understand the feelings of the petitioners and their parents. Thereafter, I shall proceed to write a detailed order on this issue. That is the reason why I am trying to develop this case brick by brick, and ultimately construct something purposeful on this issue,” the judge added.



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Parliament prorogued



by Saman Indrajith

Parliament has been prorogued with effect from midnight yesterday (27) by President Ranil Wickremeisnghe under Article 70 of the Constitution. The Department of Government Printing issued the Gazette notification annoucing the presidential order yesterday evening.The new Parliament session is scheduled to commence on Feb. 08.

A prorogation, which is a temporary recess of Parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning Parliament may be advanced by another Presidential Proclamation, provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

When Parliament is prorogued, the Proclamation should notify the date for the commencement of the new Session of Parliament, under Paragraph (3) of Article 70 of the Constitution.

During the prorogation the Speaker continues to function and the Members retain their membership, even though they do not attend meetings of Parliament.The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current Business before the House, and all proceedings, pending at the time, are quashed, except impeachments.

A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same Session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent Session, after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before Parliament, and have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation of Parliament, may be proceeded with during the next Session,” states the Paragraph (4) of Article 70 of the Constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not put an end to pending Business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new Session. At the beginning of a new Session, all items of Business which were in the Order Paper of Parliament, need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.

At the end of a prorogation, a new Session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the President. He is empowered, under the Constitution, to make a Statement of Government Policy in Parliament, at the commencement of each Session of Parliament, and to preside at ceremonial sittings of Parliament, in terms of the provisions stipulated in Paragraph (2) of Article 33 of the Constitution.

The President is empowered to make a statement of Government Policy at the commencement of each new Session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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LG elections may turn violent – CPA




Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and co-convener of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu has warned that the March 9 LG polls (if held) may turn violent as political parties are fighting for their survival as the results of the election may be considered as a referendum. He said it was doubtful whether the election would be held.

Dr. Saravanamuttu sounded this warning at the conference on Campaign Finance Regulations, convened by the CMEV, and Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), which was held last Thursday (26). He recalled that once when he asked former President Mahinda Rajapaksa about campaign and party finances, the latter’s reply had been as follows: “I am not going to tell you the whole story, I cannot tell you the whole story and I will not tell you the whole story”

The Campaign Finance Regulation Act became law last Tuesday (24) and Dr. Saravanamuttu pointed out that the former President’s quip highlighted the challenges of collecting information on exactly how much is actually being used. “It is important that the public should know, whether it be cash or kind, from where the money comes from. And the information be made available to the public.”

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President: Cabinet has agreed to implement 13A fully



President Ranil Wickremesinghe, on Thursday, informed the All Party Leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the Cabinet was agreeable to fully implementing the 13th Amendment.Issuing a statement on Friday, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said the President is bound to implement the laws of the land and the 13th Amendment is a part of the Constitution.

“The 13th Amendment has been in existence for over 30 years. I must implement it. If anyone is opposed, they can bring in a constitutional amendment to change it, or abolish it,” he said.

The President said that the country has to decide whether to fully implement the 13th Amendment or abolish it. “We can’t decide to do neither. Any MP can bring a private members motion to abolish the 13A. What happens when most people don’t support the motion? We will have to fully implement it,” he said.

The President said that he is working, according to a Supreme Court decision, on 13A. “We have to look, especially at the decision given by Chief Justice Palinda Ranasinghe. We are still in the bounds of a unitary state. I am against a Federal state but I support the devolution of power to provinces. The provincial councils don’t even have the powers enjoyed by the City of London. So we can’t call this a federal state,” he said.

Wickremesinghe added that former President J.R. Jayawardane and his lawyers took great pains to prevent the 13A from leading to a federal state. He added that at the end of the war, against the LTTE, a large number of lands in the North and the East, that belonged to private owners, were under the control of the Army. However, most of it had been returned to the people, under presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena.

“Only about 3000 acres are under the security forces. The forces must be given the opportunity to release these lands, without hindering national security. The Land Commission, too, must be immediately established. The draft on that can be presented by March. The Commission will have nine members, from each province ,and 12 will be appointed by the President. The we can come up with a national land policy and the Commission can implement the land policy,” he said.

The President said that 30 percent of the land will be allocated for forests. Large swaths of forests, in the upcountry, and in the catchment areas, for rivers, have been destroyed.

“We must increase the forest cover and the Land Commission must be entrusted with this,” he said.

The President added that he will provide further information, on February 08, on how the amendment will be implemented. He urged political parties to submit their proposals by February 04, the Independence Day of the country.

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