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Jaitley, Jethmalani clash in High Court in defamation case

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Jethmalani Jaitley

New Delhi, May 17 : Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and senior advocate Ram Jethmalani on Wednesday clashed in the Delhi High Court with the Minister taking strong objection to the word “crook” used by the lawyer during cross examination in the defamation case filed against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

“I intend to show that this man (Jaitley) is a crook,” said Jethmalani, prompting strong objection from Jaitley.

Jaitley, who was being cross-examined, furiously asked Jethmalani whether the word “crook” used by him was in his personal capacity or as per the instruction of Kejriwal.

Jaitley threatened to seek higher damages. “I will aggravate the charges against the defendants (Kejriwal)… There is a limit to personal malice,” he said after Jethmalani, appearing for Kejriwal, said he wanted to prove that the Union Minister was a “crook”.

Asked to clarify the source of the word, Jethmalani said it has been used by him on instruction from his client (Kejriwal).

Senior counsels Rajiv Nayyar and Sandeep Sethi, representing Jaitley, objected to Jethmalani referring to the Minister as being “guilty of crime and crookery”.

During the proceedings, Jethmalani and some lawyers defending the AAP leaders contended that Jaitley was not entitled to the Rs 10 crore damages he has sought from Kejriwal and others.

Joint Registrar (JR) Deepali Sharma disallowed a question by Jethmalani in which he accused Jaitley of stalling publication of an article, written by Jethmalani, criticising the Finance Minister in a leading newspaper.

Jethmalani contented that in a suit for defamation, the personal character of the plaintiff is extremely important. “I am conducting a case, wherein I intend to prove that Arun Jaitley has no reputation whatsoever,” the lawyer said.

The JR disallowed the question, saying, “The question is disallowed as the article has been observed to be irrelevant by the court on May 15, 2017. Moreover, the defendant number one (Kejriwal) is seeking to make specific inquiries into a matter, which is not an issue in the instant case,” the JR said.

Jaitley was being cross-examined by Kejriwal’s counsel and senior advocate Jethmalani in connection with the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) defamation case filed by the Minister.

In December 2015, Jaitley filed a civil defamation case against Kejriwal and AAP leaders Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpayee, claiming that they made “false and defamatory” statements in the case involving DDCA, thereby harming his reputation.

Jaitley has sought Rs 10 crore in damages from Kejriwal and other AAP leaders.

He had claimed that the AAP leaders attacked him over alleged irregularities and financial bungling in Delhi’s cricket association, of which he was the President for about 13 years.

The court has listed the case for further cross-examination on July 28 and 31.

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Returning migrants pose huge challenge to Bihar govt

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daily wages workers

Patna, March 30 : The migrant labourers returning to Bihar has posed a big challenge to the state government — to keep them in 14-day isolation to contain coronavirus spread.

Over 45,000 people had reached the UP towns bordering Bihar and more than 100,000 were expected by evening, said a Bihar Disaster Management Department official, here on Monday.

Pratyam Amrit, Principal Secretary of the Disaster Management Department, said, “Six camps have been set up along the Bihar-UP border. By Monday, we are expecting 1.30 lakh people to reach the borders. We are looking to provide them food and make arrangements for their stay during the quarantine period.”

The state government, he said was taking all precautionary measures even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 21-day lockdown on March 24. After emergence of Covid-19 cases in the state, the government had made arrangements even in the rural areas to provide food and shelter and screen villagers for infection, he added.

But the influx of workers from Delhi has created serious problem the state government. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed displeasure at the migrant workers being sent back to Bihar.

“People from other states are being registered at the disaster border relief camps. Their health is being checked. After food and rest, they are being provided buses by the Transport Department in the district headquarters. Arrangements have been made to send them, ” said another official.

The process could continue for two-three days, he added.

Principal Secretary Deepak Kumar said arrangements were being made to send Biharis coming from outside to their villages. “All the Block Development Officers, Head of panchayats and sarpanches have been asked to monitor the situation and follow quarantine and social distancing norms,” Kumar said.

Those who had returned from abroad after March 10 were being investigated. The government has a list of 1,790 such people.

The Chief Minister after high-level meetings have ordered one-month’s ration free to 1.68 crore cardholders and payment of three months’ pension to all pensioners.

A control room has also been set up at Bihar Bhawan in Delhi to help people.

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Two Tablighi Jammat participants die of suspected coronavirus

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Tablighi Jamaat

New Delhi, March 30 : Two persons have died of suspected COVID-19 in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area from a group of people who had come from various parts of the country and abroad to take part in Tablighi Jammat, a religious gathering of the Muslim community.

Of the two elderly persons who died, one was from Tamil Nadu and the other belonged to Kashmir. All the participants aged over 60 had been admitted to various hospitals in Delhi. Out of them six people have been found to be coronavirus positive.

Shoaib Ali, the spokesman of Tablighi Jamaat, however, said, “We have no information of anybody testing positive for coronavirus.”

Admitting that two persons have died, Ali said that one of them Masgir, 63, complained of fever and cough and was taken to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital on Saturday. He was from Tamil Nadu.

“But they have not given us any report whether he died of coronavirus or not,” he said.

Shoaib Ali also denied that the death of the second person was due to coronavirus.

“On March 6, an elderly person, 65, from Sopore, Kashmir, had come to participate in Tablighi Jamaat in the Nizamuddin area. He died of a heart attack in Kashmir last week,” Ali said. However, according to reports in the Kashmir media, he was coronavirus positive.

However, Ali confirmed that the entire area has been cordoned off and about 2000 people have been quarantined and are being tested for coronavirus in this thickly populated area of South Delhi.

This is the largest single group being tested for the highly contagious COVID-19, which is transmitted easily from person to person.

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DTC to allow only essential services providers in buses

Since the announcement of 21-day lockdown, only half of the DTC buses are plying.

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DTC AC Bus

New Delhi, March 30 : The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), here on Monday, said only those who were involved in providing essential services would be allowed to travel in its buses.

In a March 29 order released on Monday, Managing Director Garima Gupta asked Depot Managers to ensure that buses should have a sticker — “for staff of essential services only and on government duty” — pasted on the front windscreen. The buses should not display route number or destination, she added.

“The conductors should allow only those who are involved in providing essential services after seeing their official identity cards,” Gupta said.

The Depot Managers have also been asked to issue the duty passes to all working employees for their movement between workplace and house.

Since the announcement of 21-day lockdown, only half of the DTC buses are plying.

The steps have been taken to “discourage” movement of migrants and daily wagers in Delhi. Soon after the announcement of lockdown, thousands of migrants and daily wagers started walking back home due to lack of food, shelter and employment opportunities.

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