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Ahead of contempt hearing, Bhushan challenges validity of ‘criminal contempt’

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PRASHANT

Senior journalist N. Ram, former Union Minister Arun Shourie and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan have moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act and termed it as a violation of the Articles 19 and 14 of the Constitution.
The petition has been moved days before the apex court is slated to take up two contempt petitions against Bhushan for allegedly making derogatory remarks against the judiciary and bringing it under disrepute.
On July 22, the top court issued notices to Bhushan and Twitter Inc for his tweets allegedly scandalising the judiciary.
Two days later, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra decided to begin hearing on another contempt case against Bhushan pending since 2009. The two cases will be taken up for hearing on August 4 and 5.
The petitioners argued that this sub-section is unconstitutional, as it is incompatible with preambular values and basic features of the Constitution, and violates Article 19(1 )(a). They claimed the sub-section is unconstitutionally and incurably vague, and is manifestly arbitrary.
The Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, defines ‘criminal contempt’ as publication of anything – whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever – which scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of any court.
The petitioners have asked the top court to issue directions declaring Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 as being violative of Articles 19 and 14 of the Constitution.
“The impugned sub-section, despite setting out penal consequences, is incurably vague. It uses vague terminology whose scope and limits are impossible to demarcate. In particular, the phrase “scandalises or tends to scandalise” invites subjective and greatly differing readings and application which is incapable of being certain and even-handed,” said the plea.
The petitioners’ argued that the sub-section violates the right to free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a) and does not amount to a reasonable restriction under Article 19(2).
“That the impugned sub-section, despite setting out penal consequences, is incurably vague. lt uses vague terminology whose scope and limits are impossible to demarcate. ln particular, the phrase ‘scandalises or tends to scandalise’ invites subjective and greatly differing readings and application which is incapable of being certain and even-handed. Thus, the offence violates the Article 14 demands of equal treatment and non-arbitrariness,” said the plea.

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Cops clash with sacked teachers in Tripura

Demanding a solution to the crisis, the teachers had been staging a sit-in over the last 52 days at Paradise Chowmuhani in the state capital.

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tripura teachers protest

Agartala, Jan 27 : Tension prevailed in Agartala on Wednesday, as scores of terminated school teachers demonstrated outside Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb’s official residence here, prompting the police to use tear gas and water cannons to disperse them.

Over 10,000 government school teachers were sacked last year, in accordance with a 2014 high court order, which said that their recruitment process was a faulty one. The Supreme Court later upheld the verdict.

Demanding a solution to the crisis, the teachers had been staging a sit-in over the last 52 days at Paradise Chowmuhani in the state capital.

Trouble started in the morning after the police dismantled the makeshift tent, where they had been holding the protest, and detained around 300 agitators.

Shortly after, the protesters set out on a march to the CM’s residence, notwithstanding the restrictions, even as the police tried to stop them.

A scuffle ensued, following which the police lathicharged the agitators, burst tear gas shells and sprayed them with water.

The demonstrators, in retaliation, ransacked vehicles of police and district officials.

“We had information that the movement could turn into a violent protest and there were chances of breach of peace.

The district magistrate had announced that prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed around the CM’s residence. So the gathering was illegal,” Additional Superintendent of Police Shasvat Kumar said.

According to a member of the Joint Movement Committee (JMC) — a forum created by the terminated teachers — the Tripura police dismantled the tent without any warning, when the agitators were still asleep.

Many teachers were detained forcibly by the police and taken to Tripura State Rifles (TSR) camps near here. We are not criminals. Why did the government use force?” Kamal Deb, a leader of the forum, said here, adding that several protesters sustained injuries in the melee.

Inspector General (law and order) Arindam Nath told reporters that police applied force “judiciously and with a human face”.

Under no circumstances, we could have allowed the protest near the CM’s residence, he added.

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India

FIR against 2,200 for involvement in Republic Day violence near Faridabad, no arrests yet

The FIR has been registered against 2,000 to 2,200 people moving on 350 to 400 tractors, who became violent with police officers, broke barricades and containers, and blocked the National Highway between 11.30 am and 12 pm near Softa village in Gadpuri, police said.

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Red Fort Farmers

A day after the tractor parade by farmers protesting against the recently passed three agriculture reform laws turned violent on January 26, an FIR has been filed against more than 2,000 persons over involvement in the incident.

The case against almost 2,200 protesting farmers was lodged after the head constable posted at the Gadpuri Police Station filed a complaint, reported The Indian Express.

The FIR has been registered under several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), namely, sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 307 (attempt to murder), and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees).

Sub-Inspector Hanish Khan, who is investigating the case, said: “The FIR has been registered against 2,000 to 2,200 people moving on 350 to 400 tractors, who became violent with police officers, broke barricades, and containers, and blocked the National Highway between 11.30 am and 12 pm near Softa village in Gadpuri. We are still investigating the matter and are yet to identify the accused or make any arrests.”

Notably, the FIR was lodged against those who were part of the tractor rally and had tried entering Faridabad to move towards Delhi. They were later talked into returning to Palwal.

Faridabad has since been under curfew with Section 144 being imposed “due to apprehension of any tension, damage to public property, and loss of life”.

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Post violence, Lal Quila metro station closed, entry to Jama Masjid station restricted

“Services at Delhi Metro stations, which were closed yesterday, had resumed late night. Lal Quila station has been closed again and entry to Jama Masjid station is restricted as of now. Normal services are there at all other stations,” a senior DMRC official said.

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Delhi Metro violet

A day after violence broke out during the farmers’ tractor parade in the national capital, Delhi Metro authorities on Wednesday shut the Lal Quila station and restricted entry to the Jama Masjid station amid heavy security deployment at the Red Fort.

A large number of metro stations in central, north and west Delhi areas, including Lal Quila, ITO, Jama Masjid, Delhi Gate, Indraprastha, were shut on Tuesday soon after the tractor parade had taken a violent turn.

“Services at Delhi Metro stations, which were closed yesterday, had resumed late night. Lal Quila station has been closed again and entry to Jama Masjid station is restricted as of now. Normal services are there at all other stations,” a senior DMRC official said.

Security has been beefed up in several places across the national capital especially at the Red Fort and farmer protest sites, with deployment of additional paramilitary forces following the violence.

Delhi Metro also took to social media to inform commuters.

First it tweeted in the morning that “Entry gates of Lal Quila metro station are closed. Exit is permitted at this station. All other stations are open. Normal services on all lines”.

Later in another tweet, it updated that “Entry/exit gates of Lal Quila metro station are closed. Entry gates of Jama Masjid metro station are closed”.

Average waiting time at Saket metro station on Yellow Line was 35 minutes. In case of any fluctuations in crowd, the waiting time will be informed accordingly, the DMRC had informed in another tweet.

However, in a successive tweet, it said: “Peak Hour Update The average waiting time for Saket has normalised”.

The Delhi Metro currently operates on a network of about 390 kilometres with 285 stations spanning 11 corridors (including NOIDA – Greater NOIDA).

The tractor parade on Tuesday that was to highlight the demands of the farmer unions to repeal three new agri laws dissolved into anarchy on the streets of the city as tens of thousands of protesters broke through barriers, fought with police, overturned vehicles and hoisted a religious flag from the ramparts of the iconic Red Fort.

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