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Bengal parties accuse Centre of using CBI as ‘political tool’

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CBI

Kolkata, Oct 23: Amid the bickering at the top in the CBI that saw the agency arrest one of its senior officials, anti-BJP parties in West Bengal on Monday accused the Modi government of reducing the agency into a “political tool”.

The internal war within the CBI took a new turn on Monday with the agency arresting its Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar following bribery allegations against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, the number 2 who is at war with Director Alok Verma.

“If such is the situation in the country’s top most independent investigating authority, then who will the common people rely on? If the government attempts to take control of an independent agency, such a situation is bound to arise,” West Bengal Congress President Somen Mitra said.

The state’s ruling Trinamool Congress, whose leaders were previously interrogated and arrested by the agency in several cases including the Saradha ponzi scam, termed the chain of events within the CBI as “laughable”.

“Those who raise questions on others’ integrity and credibility are found to be corrupt themselves. I saw a news headline that said CBI raids CBI office. It is like a thief is going to catch another thief. There is nothing more laughable than this,” Trinamool Congress MP and party supremo Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee said.

Left leaders also accused the BJP of using CBI for its political benefit.

“CBI is being used as a political tool. It is quite evident if you see the progress in the Saradha and Narada probe. The CBI sends notices to the accused when elections approach and then goes off to sleep when the elections get over,” CPI-M MP Mohammad Selim said.

The arrest of CBI official Kumar on Monday comes a day after the agency registered an FIR against Asthana and several others for allegedly accepting bribes to settle a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, who is facing multiple cases of money laundering and corruption.

The CBI has alleged that bribes were given at least five times in December 2017 and October 2018.

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Extremely concerned about balancing dignity, free speech: SC on Sudarshan News issue

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Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday said that it is extremely concerned about the balance of the right to dignity with that of free speech.


The observation was made by a bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud during the hearing of the Sudarshan News matter, where the top court has stayed the broadcast of five episodes titled “UPSC Jehad”.
Advocate Sai Deepak, appearing for a group of three intervenors, argued before the bench also comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and K.M. Joseph that the top court must also focus on the chilling effect of such injunction orders.


Justice Chandrachud replied: “You are absolutely right. You are spot on. We are extremely concerned about balance of right of dignity with free speech.”

The bench cited that there is an amorphous group of people here.
Justice Chandrachud also said the court can’t dwell on specifics as to what can be removed or added in a particular TV programme.


The bench also noted as to what has to the nature of the order when it decides to lift the injunction.
“We must also consider that. There are post-telecast mechanisms under the criminal law too,” it observed.


Advocate Shadan Farasat, appearing for intervenors, submitted before the bench that it should continue with the injunction on the TV programme.
To this, Justice Chandrachud replied: “But that is the problem.”
The bench observed that the Sudarshan News has an absolute injunction right now.

His not taking the opportunity given by us doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility to let him have his right under Article 19,” the bench said.
The top court said it will hear Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in detail on this matter and posted it for further hearing on Wednesday.

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Delhi riots: Umar Khalid denied permission to meet family in police custody

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Umar Khalid

A Delhi court on Monday dismissed an application filed by former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid, arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, seeking permission to meet his family during police custody.

On September 13, Delhi Police’s Special Cell had arrested Khalid following a case related to the widespread violence which broke out in Delhi’s northeast area in February this year, after which he was sent to police custody for 10 days. His remand period is slated to conclude on September 24.

The former JNU student had knocked on the doors of the court requesting it to allow him to meet his family for two days for a period of 30 minutes each. Khalid’s counsel Trideep Pais informed the court that a verbal assurance was given to them by the police for meeting, but later they were denied permission.

Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad apprised the court that the meeting could influence the interrogation and pose a hindrance. It was submitted that the accused was already meeting with his counsel and if he has to convey any message to his family members, he may convey that through them.

Prasad further asserted that there is no provision in CrPC for allowing the family of the accused to meet with the accused during his custody remand. He has also submitted that meeting is permissible during judicial custody as per jail rules.

“In the totality of facts and circumstances of the case, I see no merit in the application, and accordingly, the application is dismissed,” the Additional Session Judge noted in an order dated September 19.

Prasad had earlier sought 10 days’ police custody of Khalid to confront him with huge technical data running into 11 lakh pages, “as well as other evidence collected during investigation of present case and also to examine at length about other suspects and various other aspects.”

Khalid is accused of hatching a criminal conspiracy to cause communal unrest by inciting people protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens.

Besides this, Khalid is also named in chargesheets filed in various cases over the riots. Communal violence broke out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after clashes between CAA supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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Pak violates ceasefire on LoC in J&K’s Poonch

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Jammu and Kashmir Shopian Indian Army

Pakistan resorted to unprovoked firing and intense shelling in three sectors on the Line of Control on Monday in J&K’s Poonch district.

Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Devender Anand said at about 2.30 p.m. Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing with small arms and intense shelling with mortars along the LoC in Shahpur, Kirni and Qasba sectors of Poonch district.

“The Indian Army is retaliating befittingly,” the spokesman said.

Pakistan has been violating the bilateral ceasefire agreement with impunity since the beginning of this year.

24 civilians have been killed and over 100 injured in over 3,186 ceasefire violations by Pakistan on the LoC in J&K since January this year.

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