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Delhi HC stays summons against Kejriwal in defamation case



Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi: Delhi High Court has ordered a stay on the summons issued against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a defamation case against him.

The court also issued a notice to the complainant and has now slated the matter for hearing on January 31.

The case relates to a defamation complaint by Vikas Sankrityayan, who claimed that on May 6, 2018, a YouTube video with the title ‘BJP IT Cell Part II’ was circulated “wherein a number of false and defamatory allegations were made”.

Sankrityayan said that Kejriwal re-­tweeted the video from his Twitter account without checking the authenticity of the video.


Must worry about citizens’ health, instead of airlines: SC to Centre




Supreme Court

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday said there cannot be two norms — six feet social distance outside and shoulder to shoulder travel on flights, “the government should worry about the health of citizens than the health of commercial airlines”.

After making the observation, the top court allowed the Centre and national carrier Air India to keep flying back Indians stranded abroad, by utilizing middle seats in each row till June 6.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy said: “We are of the considered view that the petitioner – Air India should be allowed to operate the non-scheduled flights with the middle seats booking up to 6th June, 2020.”

However, the top court said after this Air India will operate non-scheduled flights in accordance with the interim order to be passed by the Bombay High Court. The bench conducted an urgent hearing on Eid holiday, through video conferencing, to hear the appeals of Centre and Air India against the Bombay High Court order.

The Bombay High Court had barred the middle seat occupancy in on-scheduled international flights on Air India’s pilot, Deven Kanani’s petition alleging violation of social distancing guidelines.

The apex court asked the Bombay High Court to decide on the matter against Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) circulars expeditiously, and insisted airlines should follow the High Court order in connection with safety measures. “We make it clear that the DGCA is free to alter any norms he may consider necessary during the pendency of the matter in the interest of public health and safety of the passengers rather than of commercial considerations,” added the bench.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended before the court that immense difficulty has arisen because of the passengers who are stranded on foreign soil at the airports after they were issued valid tickets for travel. And, this has resulted in a lot of anxiety and difficulties arising from want of proper shelter, money, etc., at the foreign airports, he added.

“Moreover, in some cases, the travel plan of families who were travelling together has been disrupted because those in the families who had middle seats have to be offloaded and remain behind,” said Mehta.

The top court said “at this juncture, we would consider it necessary for the High Court to arrive at a prima facie finding regarding the safety and health of the passengers qua the COVID-19 virus, whether the flight is scheduled flight or a non-scheduled flight.”

The top court asked the Bombay High Court to pass an effective interim order after hearing all concerned, in the backdrop of health risk posed by Covid-19 pandemic, on the next date of hearing June 2.

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Nagaland reports 1st corona cases, Assam sees spike in 24 hrs





Kohima/Guwahati/Agartala, May 25 (IANS) After Sikkim, Nagaland reported its first coronavirus case when three people, who returned from Chennai, tested positive on Monday while in neighbouring Assam 116 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, taking the state’s total tally to 466.

According to the ministers and officials, the exodus of thousands of people from southern and western regions of India to the Northeast region has led to a steep rise in Covid-19 positive cases, especially in Assam.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio in a tweet said: “Unfortunately, two persons in Dimapur and one in Kohima have been tested positive for Covid-19. Please do not panic. We need to handle it with utmost care and responsibility. Necessary action of contact tracing and containment measures are being taken and situation closely monitored.”

Nagaland Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) Menukhol John said in Kohima that three persons, including a woman, who returned from Chennai on Friday, after they tested positive for the novel coronavirus, are undergoing treatment at the District Hospital Dimapur and Chedema COVID-19 Hospital in Kohima.

Officially, Nagaland is the last of the eight Northeastern states after Sikkim to report COVID-19 positive cases. However, a 33-year-old trader based in Dimapur, an important commercial town in Nagaland, had tested positive in the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital on April 12 after the man shifted from a private hospital in Dimapur to Guwahati. The patient recovered from the disease early this month.

Sikkim Health Secretary Pemba T. Bhutia said that the Himalayan state reported its first coronavirus case when a 25-year-old student, who returned from Delhi last week, tested positive on Saturday.

In Guwahati, according to Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma after the return of over 60,000 people, mostly from the southern and western India, to the state, huge spike of COVID-19 positive cases was witnessed in the state. Sarma said that, fortunately, 90 per cent of the 466 Covid-19 patients in the state have been reported from the quarantine centres across the state’s 33 districts. Of the 466 positive cases, 402 are active cases and 57 discharged from the hospital and four died and three migrated to other states.

With three people, who recently returned to Tripura from Delhi, tested positive on Sunday night taking the state’s total Covid-19 positive cases to 194, which included 161 BSF personnel and their kin. However, only 27 cases are active

Meanwhile, the three-member central team, led by G.K. Medhi, Professor and Head of the Department of Community Medicine of the Shillong-based North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS), after an 11-day visit and studying the source and other aspects of the coronavirus infection among the Border Security Force (BSF) troopers in Tripura on Sunday submitted their report to the state government.

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What we planned to do in 5 years, we did in 4: Kerala CM




Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram, May 25 (IANS) Putting up a sense of happiness in accomplishments, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said his government’s four-year journey has been eventful and expressed satisfaction that he was able to give to the people what was promised in the election manifesto. However, the Congress-led opposition dismissed this saying Kerala has been destroyed in all respects during Vijayan’s rule.

“What we planned to do in 5 years, we could do in 4 years,” said Vijayan while addressing the media on completion of four years in office. It was on this day in 2016 that Vijayan and his team were sworn in.

“We were able to achieve all this even when successive disasters hit the state — starting from the Ockhi waves in 2017, followed by Nipah in 2018 and then the worst ever floods in 2018, followed by another flood in 2019. Then came Covid-19. Everywhere due to our steadfast determination we were able to fight all these disasters and moved forward. In our journey we received all round help from Keralaites all over the world,” said Vijayan.

He said post Covid, Kerala by now has achieved a tag of being the safest place in all respects and many companies are now looking forward to come to Kerala.

“We have come out with a very favourable policy for investors, where in a week’s time, we will give such investors the license to start their work,” said Vijayan and added, “we are getting in touch with various Indian Embassies to make things easy for investors who are looking to invest in Kerala.”

“Various committees are soon to be set up where nominees of foreign trade bodies (America, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Singapore) would be members. This would help in speeding up things for investors,” added Vijayan.

He also pointed out that unlike ‘others’, his party’s election manifesto was one which is meant to be achieved and not meant to be one, which is a document of promises, which will never be accomplished.

He said when the current fiscal began, we knew that there would be a 15 per cent hike in spending and for that we expected Centre to come to our help, but it did not happen.

“So we decided to rework our strategy and decided to re-energise KIFBI, where we raised Rs 50,000 crore outside of the budget and by now, we have given the green signal to Rs 54,291 crore worth of projects through it,” Vijayan said.

He said one of the biggest achievements of his government is the formation of the Kerala Bank. “Despite lots of negative vibes from several quarters, we have set it up and it is now the second biggest bank in our state,” said Vijayan.

On the state public sector enterprises, he said, they began with a loss of Rs 139 crore. “In the first year, the total losses were reduced to Rs 71 crore and at the end of the previous fiscal (2019-20), we had a working profit of Rs 56 crore, which is a handsome achievement,” added Vijayan.

On the education front, he said, compared to the earlier situations, five lakh students sought admissions to state government schools. “In 4,752 schools, infrastructure was improved, 14,000 schools got connected to broadband and 45,000 classrooms turned hi-tech,” said Vijayan.

Another achievement under him he said was fresh investment in the Startup which jumped from Rs 2.20 crore to Rs 875 crore.

Lauding police force, Vijayan said, “The police here have done a good job when it resolved numerous murder mysteries. And when it came to tackling Covid, they did a great work and it continues.”

He said another feature of his government has been building 2,19,154 homes for the homeless.

“We planned to give 2 lakh title deeds to those who did not have land and by now 1.43 lakh people have been given and very soon another 35,000 more would be given,” added Vijayan.

He said that Covid was a setback to the smooth progress of the state, but so far this pandemic has been handled well and the government will continue to tackle with strengths.

“The number of cases was down, but on expected lines, with the arrival of a good number of our people from abroad and within the country, the number of cases has now started to go up. This was on expected lines and we are fully geared up to deal with. If one looks into statistics, now on an average everyday there are 39 cases, but I am not going into the mathematical analysis of this,” added Vijayan.

But the opposition Congress was not impressed. Its top leaders staged a protest in front of the State Secretariat and described Vijayan’s tenure as the most disappointing one and had it not been for Covid, today would have been a day when extravagant celebrations would have been seen.

State Congress president Mulappally Ramachandran said when people in Kerala are suffering during Covid times, Vijayan has hiked bus fares and electricity charges.

“Never before has Kerala seen such an extravagant government and as a result the public debt has risen from Rs 1.57 lakh crore to Rs 2.50 lakh crore. This government has been an abject failure on all fronts,” said Ramachandran.

Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala said Vijayan’s tenure would go down as a government which engaged in scientific corruption.

“We have seen a few corrupt deals that were exposed by us. Today he is riding under Covid and feels none knows what’s happening in Kerala. With just one more year to go, Kerala is presently neck deep in debts and this is going to be huge burden for the next government. The only thing that is happening here is a blatant PR exercise and the figures of a successful public sector enterprise are all a bluff. The re-build Kerala initiative following the 2018 floods is nothing but a hype and nothing has happened. This Vijayan government would go down as the one which has taken Kerala backwards in all respects,” said Chennithala.

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