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Current situation is more dangerous than Emergency : Romila Thapar

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August 30 :Noted historian Romila Thapar, who is one of the five intellectuals who have filed petitions in the Supreme Court against the arrest of five human rights activists by Pune police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence case, said that an environment of fear is prevailing in the country and the situation in the country under the current ruling dispensation is more dangerous than it was at the time of the Emergency in the mid-1970s.

Following the arrests of civil rights activists and lawyers on Tuesday, writer Arundhati Roy said, “The events that are unfolding are being fuelled by an intent to do away with democracy and turn this country into a Hindu state,” Roy said.

“This time, it is the state itself that is unleashing a law and order problem on minorities, on Dalits, Christians, Muslims and Leftists and anyone else who disagrees through its proxies in the media, its murderous vigilantes and hate-speech vendors,” Roy added.

The arrest of five rights activists by the Maharashtra Police on alleged Maoist links is aimed at silencing dissent and instilling fear in the minds of the people, noted historian Romila Thapar and four other academicians told the Supreme Court.

The petition filed by the five intellectuals alleged that the Pune police action was the “biggest attack” on freedom and liberty of citizens by resorting to high-handedness without any credible evidence.

It also alleged that no action was taken against right-wing workers, against whom FIRs were lodged as they “were behind” the Koregaon-Bhima violence.

While observing that the dissent was the “safety valve” of democracy, the apex court today kept the five human rights activists arrested in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence case under house arrest at their homes till September 6.

The activists arrested are Sudha Bharadwaj, a civil rights activist and labour lawyer from Chattisgarh, presently teaching at the National Law University, Delhi, Gautam Navlakha, former president of the People’s Union for Democratic Reforms, Varavara Rao, a poet-activist, Vernon Gonsalves, human rights activist, and Arun Ferreira, a civil rights activist and lawyer based in Mumbai.

India

Punjab cancels pending school board examinations

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Exam

The Punjab Government has decided to cancel the pending examinations of various classes which were earlier announced to be conducted after July 15 by Punjab School Education Board (PSEB).

While divulging details, School Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla said that the state government has decided to cancel all the pending examinations of Class XII, open school and several other categories including reappear and golden chance students.

He added that the decision has been taken in view of the hard times due to COVID-19 pandemic.

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Single-day record 1,608 new corona cases in Andhra

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Corona-Virus

Amaravati, July 10 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh witnessed an all-time high of 1,608 new coronavirus cases in 24-hour cycle ended at 9 am on Friday, including 32 returnees from other states.

On Thursday too, the state had reported a high of 1,555 new cases, while the previous single-day high of 1,322 cases was recorded on Monday.

Andhra Pradesh”s total corona cases breached the 25K-mark to touch 25,422 cases on Friday.

Continuing the trend, all 13 districts in Andhra Pradesh reported fresh cases on Friday, including the highest 208 in Chittoor district and followed by Anantapur (191), East Godavari (169), Kurnool and West Godavari (144 cases each), Guntur (136) and Prakasam (110), among others.

As many as 21,020 samples were tested compared with 16,882 samples a day earlier.

The recovery rate remains robust as 981 more patients were discharged from hospitals and Covid-19 treatment centres, taking the total cured persons to 13,194.

As of Friday, 11,936 persons are receiving treatment at hospitals and designated treatment centers in the state.

Friday also saw highest 15 deaths recorded in a day in Andhra Pradesh — Anantapur, Chittoor, Kurnool, Krishna and Guntur two deaths each, and Nellore, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, and West Godavari districts one death each.

Andhra Pradesh”s total corona death toll now stands at 292.

Even as a decline was observed in the number of positive cases among returnees from other states, returnees from Telangana continued to dominate in this category.

Of the 32 new such cases reported on Friday, 22 were from among returnees from Telangana, 4 from Maharashtra, two each from Delhi and Odisha, and one each from Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

Till date, 2,351 state returnees have tested positive in Andhra Pradesh. The active cases in this category total 686, whereas 1,665 persons have been discharged till date.

On Friday, no new cases were reported from persons with foreign travel history. The total corona patients in this category stands at 424, with 298 of them cured and discharged. As of Friday, 126 persons in this category were undergoing treatment in hospitals.

–IANS

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HC dismisses Sharjeel plea, says lockdown disrupted pace of probe

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Delhi High Court

New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) The Delhi High Court while dismissing the petition filed by former JNU scholar Sharjeel Imam challenging the trial court order granting more time to the police to conclude the probe in a case against him, observed that the lockdown due the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the pace of the probe.

The high court noted that the report submitted by the Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) mentioned that due to the global COVID-19 pandemic a lockdown was imposed due to which the pace of the investigation was seriously disrupted.

“The aforesaid clearly depicts the reasons for not completing the investigation in 90 days,” said a single judge bench of the high court presided over by Justice V Kameshwara Rao.

This observation was made in response to the allegations levelled by the petitioner”s counsel, senior advocate Rebecca John who had said that the report of the APP does not satisfy the requirement under the law.

The court also declined John”s submission that the information given by the Investigating Officer to the counsel for the petitioner that the investigating agency intends to move an application under Section 43 of the UAPA is not a substitute for a notice to be issued by the court on an application filed by the APP.

“The fact that the counsel of the petitioner was in the knowledge about the impending application seeking extension of time for completion of the investigation beyond 90 days and a written notice giving reasons is not the requirement of law, I find, there is a compliance of principles of natural justice,” the court said.

It added that even if a notice was issued to the petitioner, he would have authorized his counsel to represent him only to know that an application/ report was being considered for extension of time for completion of investigation.

“The plea that notice could have been issued to the petitioner for his presence on April 27, 2020, which was the 90th day is not appealing, as the same would not have been required. In that sense no prejudice has been caused to the petitioner in the facts,” the court held.

The high court noted that John”s submissions that the filing of the application for seeking extension to complete the probe on the 88th day was clearly malafide only to deny the statutory bail to the petitioner were not convincing. “This I say so because the addition of Section 13 of UAPA to the offences has not been contested. The UAPA provides for extension of the period of investigation for a further period of 90 days i.e. totalling 180 days,” the court held.

Justice V Kameshwar Rao turned down the petition filed by Imam through advocates Bhavook Chauhan, Surabhi Dhar and Ahmed Ibrahim which had also sought the court”s direction to release Imam on default bail under section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The high court had on June 25 reserved its order on the petition filed by Imam after hearing the matter at length through video conferencing.

On June 5, the Delhi Police filed its response before the high court opposing the present petition filed by the former JNU scholar.

In its affidavit, the police claimed, “Imam by way of his speeches was addressing a particular religious section of the society and creating disaffection towards government established by the law by creating unfounded fears in their minds regarding CAA and the process of NRC, which is yet to be implemented in any manner throughout the country barring Assam.”

“The accused by way of his speeches was also spreading falsehood about genocide in Assam. He through his speeches was instigating a particular religious section of the society to disrupt/block the access to North-East region of India from rest of India,” the affidavit read.

Recently, Delhi”s Patiala House Court dismissed the bail application filed by Sharjeel Imam in a matter pertaining to giving inflammatory speech, asserting that it is bereft of merit.

Sharjeel Imam was in the eye of a storm for giving an “inflammatory” speech in Delhi”s Jamia over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) on December 13 and subsequently on January 16 at Aligarh Muslim University, where he allegedly threatened to “cut off” Assam and the rest of the North-East from the country.

–IANS

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