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Amit Shah son’s case: News portal allowed to withdraw appeal

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Jay Shah with his father Amit Shah

New Delhi, Aug 27 Expressing its dismay at the nature of journalism being practised in the country, the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed news portal ‘The Wire’ and its team to withdraw their appeal challenging the Gujarat High Court order in a defamation case filed by Jay Shah, following an article published on its website.

Jay Shah, son of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, had sought action against the website for carrying defamatory content in an article. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also ordered that the trial against the website be expeditiously completed by the competent court.

The hearing in the court witnessed heated arguments. “This can happen to anybody (referring to the publication of the article). We are suffering and this institution (citing the courts) is also suffering. In fact, this institution has suffered. What is this kind of culture developed in India (an observation in the context of journalism)?” asked Justice Mishra.

The bench, which also comprises Justices M.R. Shah and B.R. Gavai, made this observation when senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the portal and its scribes, submitted that his clients sought to withdraw the appeals filed by them. Justice Mishra queried Sibal, “Why should we not take suo moto and settle it. We want a decision on the merit of the case?”

The court also asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was present in the court, as to the practice of sending a notice at night and seeking a reply. The court was referring to incidents where a notice is served on a person to document its explanation on the matter, and even before the query is answered, an article is published, which technically denies the opposite party a chance to register its reply on the matter.

“The article is usually published within five to six hours…what is this?” observed the court.

Justice Mishra continued to express his dissatisfaction with the press. “What kind of journalism is this”, he asked and told Sibal to ponder over the issue. Though the court allowed withdrawal of appeals, it pointed out that these have been pending for nearly 18 months.

“We have permitted the withdrawal, but the way in which notices are given over a short period of time is indeed a matter of concern for the court”, observed Mishra.

Sibal then mentioned that the freedom of press should be restored. Justice Mishra replied that such freedom is supreme, but it cannot be a one-way traffic. Sibal retorted by saying: have the judges on the bench seen TV news? Justice Mishra replied in the negative. Sibal quipped: then you must watch it.

Justice Mishra replied, “Yellow journalism should not take place.” Counsels appearing for Jay submitted before the court that the appeals should be withdrawn absolutely unconditionally.

A statement by ‘The Wire’ said: “Circumstances have arisen as per which we believe it is best if we make use of the opportunity to justify everything we have stated in our article at the trial. We are therefore withdrawing. We believe the fight for media freedom will have to be advanced at all levels.”

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BS-IV vehicles needed for public utility services & purchased up to March 31 be registered: SC

The issue of pollution from vehicles had cropped up before the apex court which is hearing a matter related to air pollution in the Delhi-national capital region (NCR).

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New Delhi, Sep 18 : The Supreme Court Friday said BS-IV vehicles, which were purchased on or before March 31 this year and are necessary for municipal corporation in Delhi to carry out essential public utility services, should be registered.

The apex court had in October 2018 said that no BS-IV compliant vehicle would be sold or registered in India from April 1, 2020.

In 2016, the Centre had also announced that India would skip the BS-V norms and adopt BS-VI by 2020.

BS emission norms are standards instituted by the government to regulate output of air pollutants from motor vehicles.

The matter came up for hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde which dealt with applications related to registration of three types of vehicles — CNG , BS-IV and BS-VI compliant — for being used for essential public utility services.

“Insofar as CNG vehicles are concerned, there cannot be any valid rejection to the vehicles, as the emission from these vehicles is within the limits. Therefore, we direct that these vehicles may be registered,” said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

It noted that BS-VI norms came into force on April 1, 2020 and vehicles purchased up to March 31 this year were BS-IV compliant.

“Admittedly the emission from BS-VI compliant vehicles is within the norms and hence the vehicles purchased on or after April 1, 2020 and which are BS-VI compliant, should also liable to be registered,” it said.

The top court noted in its order that BS-IV compliant vehicles purchased up to March 31 this year must have been registered with the E-Vahan portal of the government before the cut-off date to establish the date of purchase.

“If the purchase had been made on or before March 31, 2020 and these vehicles are BS-IV compliant, such vehicles necessary for the municipal corporation to carry essential public utility services should also be registered. But such cases shall be scrutinized by the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA),” the bench said.

The bench said to avoid repeated applications being filed before the court just for the purpose of getting registration, “we direct that the EPCA shall scrutiny the pending cases and submit a report to this court so that a common order could be passed without the necessity for several interlocutory applications.”

The issue of pollution from vehicles had cropped up before the apex court which is hearing a matter related to air pollution in the Delhi-national capital region (NCR).

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Coronavirus: Karnataka’s Covid tally crosses 5 lakh

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Coronavirus in India

Bengaluru, Sep 19 : With 8,626 fresh cases across the state on Friday, Karnataka’s Covid-19 tally crossed the 5 lakh mark, while 10,949 people were discharged after treatment in the last 24 hours.

“The number of positive cases across the state is 5,02,982, including 1,01,129 active cases, while 3,94,026 cases were discharged since March 8,” said the health bulletin.

With 179 patients succumbing to the infection during the day, the state’s toll has gone up to 7,808.

Bengaluru, which is the epicentre of the disease in the state, registered 3,623 cases during the day, taking its tally to 1,87,705, including 41,914 active cases, while 1,43,198 patients were discharged till date, with 2,725 in the last 24 hours.

With 37 deaths during the day, the city’s toll has increased to 2,592.

“The number of patients in the intensive care units (ICU) across the state is 814, including 271 in Bengaluru Urban district, Dharwad 74, Ballari 67 and Hassan 62,” the bulletin said.

Mysuru saw 600 new cases, Udupi 493, Dakshina Kannada 456, Ballari 296, Shivamogga 257 and Belagavi 221.

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India

Anil Dhasmana is new chief of NTRO, spy agency that keeps an eye from the sky

Anil Dhasmana is the former chief of India’s external spy agency, R&AW

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Anil Dhasmana with Amit Shah

Former Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) chief Anil Dhasmana has been appointed as National Technical Research Organisation, India’s technical body that is responsible for geospatial intelligence and satellite imagery.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cleared the appointment and the decision was formally conveyed to the retired Indian Police Service officer on Friday.

Dhasmana succeeds former Intelligence Bureau officer Satish Jha who demitted office on Thursday.

Dhasmana, a 1981 batch Indian Police Service officer, is a Pakistan expert and was the lead planner of the Balakot air strikes in February 2019 after Pakistan-backed terrorists killed 40 CRPF soldiers in the Pulwama car bombing.

Dhasmana had stepped down a few months later when his extended term due to the general elections ended in June 2019.

The top police officer returns to the center of action 14 months later at a time the NTRO is playing a crucial role, tracking movements of the China’s People’s Liberation Army near the many friction points along the Line of Actual Control that have seen heavy deployment of soldiers and support elements from both sides. The two countries have been speaking to each other at military and diplomatic levels to resolve the stand-off but there are some indications that the stand-off would continue for some time.

Dhasmana had joined R&AW, India’s external spy agency in 1993 from his parent cadre Madhya Pradesh and had worked extensively with the agency’s Pakistan desk.

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