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SC to examine veracity of evidence against five rights activists

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud said: “First of all, we must look into the material. We will see the record, what are the allegations, and see if there is something real. We will quash if it is a cooked-up or clumsy story.”

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Areest of Five Activist

New Delhi, Sep 17 : The Supreme Court on Monday said it will examine the veracity of material gathered by police against five rights activists arrested on charges of links with the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist.

Ordering the matter to be heard on Wednesday, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud said: “First of all, we must look into the material. We will see the record, what are the allegations, and see if there is something real. We will quash if it is a cooked-up or clumsy story.”

The interim order of house arrest of the activists will remain in force till the next hearing, i.e. September 19.

The court told the senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi: “We are protecting your liberty… your formulation on law, we will hear you on Wednesday.”

In the course of the hearing, Chief Justice Misra said: “The best way to deal with it (is that) the interim order (of house arrest) will remain. All the cases will be transferred to one court.”

However, this course of action was lost as the hearing took a different turn in the course of arguments by Singhvi.

The hearing saw the Centre opposing a plea by historian Romila Thapar and activist Maja Daruwala against the arrests by contending that Naxalism was not just a problem bedeviling one state but also other states in the country.

Citing the procedure and asserting that the matter be heard by a competent court, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh said that if it did not happen every matter may start coming to the top court.

Earlier, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Maharashtra, told the court that he will show the material to demonstrate that the five accused — Sudha Bhardwaj, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira — were arrested not for airing dissent but for “activities prejudicial to the interest of the State”.

As the apex court said that it will examine the veracity of the material, Mehta said that five accused can’t say thereafter that they have a (judicial) remedy.

“They can’t have two remedies. Let them withdraw their respective pleas before different courts, they can’t have two remedies.”

Singhvi informed the court that nothing had happened in those petition, ever since the matter came before the top court and that hearings on them have been deferred.

Mehta reiterated his objection as to how could strangers — Romila Thapar and Maja Daruwala — petition the top court to challenge the arrests.

At this, CJI Misra said: “We are not concerned about the locus of the case. I have not even uttered these words.”

Senior counsel Anand Grover asserted that “they (police) have not followed the procedure under the law”.

Grover said that it was no more a case of strangers moving the court as two of the five accused have filed their affidavits in the court.

Pressing for an “independent and comprehensive inquiry”, the petitioners’ counsel Singhvi said that he wanted to show the court some of the shocking material relied upon by the Maharashtra Police to proceed against the five activists who were arrested on August 28.

The Chief Justice said they will have to move a separate petition for an independent probe.

Referring to two FIRs filed in the case (0 of 2018 and 4/2018), Singhvi said that a part of play by German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht calling upon the people to rise for their rights — that was used in Bhima-Koregaon event – is the foundation of an FIR.

He told the court about the volte face by the Maharashtra government, wherein in response to the first FIR (0 of 2018) they blamed activists of a right-wing outfit for violence on the peaceful Dalit procession at Bhima-Koregaon village but in the case of second FIR (4/2018) backtrack on it.

Singhvi said that after the Bhima-Koregoan violence on January 1, a committee had submitted its inquiry report. The Pune police did not accept it and later even disowned it.

Describing the evidence as “fabricated”, Singhvi said that police had accused the five activist of receiving a letter from one Comrade Prakash, forgetting that he is lodged in jail after his conviction in a case.

Alleging that canard is being spread about the arrested activists, Singhvi said that in the 25 cases against poet Varavara Rao, he was either acquitted or the cases withdrawn or quashed.

In case of Vernon Gonsalves, he was acquitted in 17 of the 18 cases. In one case, an appeal is pending. Ferreira was acquitted in all 11 cases, the counsel said.

Cities

Bihar: DGP reveals killing of Indigo Airlines station manager was over airport contract parking

Nitish Kumar has also taken full information about the investigation of the case. DGP said the police have almost completed the investigation into the Rupesh murder case.

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The killing of Indigo Airlines station manager Rupesh Kumar Singh because of the contract at the airport. In Bihar, DGP Sanjeev Kumar Singhal has disclosed that Rupesh Singh was murdered because of the contract of airport parking. He said there was a big controversy over the contract. The DGP claimed that the police are very close to the revelations of the murderers in the case.

The DGP said that the police are examining all other aspects of the murder case. Nitish Kumar has also taken full information about the investigation of the case. He said the police have almost completed the investigation into the Rupesh murder case. DGP said the murder case was carried out by the contract killer.

The police have jointed all the open links of this incident. The entire development will be disclosed soon. DGP said that the airport parking contract is under thorough investigation.

Police interrogate female airlines employee

A special team of Patna police has questioned the female worker of another airline company. There was a dispute between the lady worker and the Rupesh about something. Later, the lady worker quit the job and joined another airline.

The police asked her the reason for the dispute. In addition, police have also questioned a former worker of Indigo Airlines. It came to the fore that the worker was removed from the job by Rupesh.

DIG said that the police have also questioned those who run the taxis at the airport stand. In fact, the police had come to know that there was a dispute over the stand a few days ago. The police, therefore, examined this aspect. However, during interrogation, any concrete motive did not come out in Police’s eyes.

Bihar: The raids for contract killers

Bihar Range IG said that the police team is engaged in solving this blind case. It is discovered that Rupesh has been murdered by the contract killers. Raids were launched at several places in their search. It is also being ascertained as to what is the cause of the incident. If the reason is known, the mastermind can also be easily reached.

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India

No more food subsidy at Parliament canteen: LS Speaker

Sources said that the savings could add up to almost Rs 17 crore annually with the removal of subsidised food at the Parliament canteen.

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New Delhi, Jan 19 : From the upcoming Parliament session beginning this month-end, there will be no food subsidy at the Parliament canteen.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Tuesday announced the new move, saying “Food subsidy at Parliament canteen has been completely removed”. Birla made the announcement addressing the media ahead of the forthcoming Budget session of Parliament that will begin from January 29.

Sources said that the savings could add up to almost Rs 17 crore annually with the removal of subsidised food at the Parliament canteen.

In the winter session of Parliament in 2019, Birla mooted a suggestion for it and the Members of Parliament unanimously decided to not avail of any subsidy at the Parliament canteen.

Birla later shared details about the time schedule of how Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will function in the upcoming session.

“Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Budget session will commence from January 29. Rajya Sabha will sit from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Lok Sabha will sit from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Zero Hour and Question Hour will be held,” the Speaker said.

He made it clear that all MPs will have to go through RT-PCR test before joining the Parliament session and that they have been told to undergo the mandatory Covid-19 test.

The Budget session will commence with the President’s Address while the Union Budget will be presented on February 1. The session will conclude on April 8 with a recess in between from February 15 to March 8.

The President will deliver his annual address to a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament at 11 a.m. on January 29. The two Houses will meet separately for tabling of the President’s Address.

The Economic Survey will also be tabled in both Houses in this 30-minute sitting and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget at 11 a.m. on February 1.

Covid protocols will be followed in this session on the same lines as the Monsoon session.

The session is being held at a time when the government is grappling with the farmers’ agitation and vociferous demands from the opposition for the repeal of the three contentious farm laws.

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Cities

Alarming rise of crime against women in Assam: Congress

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee General Secretary Bobbeeta Sharma highlighted incidents of rape and violence in the recent past, including the alleged rape and killing of a teenager and her aunt in Dibrugarh district.

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Guwahati: The Assam Mahila Congress on Monday expressed concern over the “alarming increase” of crime against women during the last few years under the present BJP government.

The state has reported “the highest rate of crime against women for the last three years consecutively” and the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics reveal that it is constantly increasing, Assam Mahila Congress president and MLA Nandita Das told reporters here.

Incidents of registered violence against women were 20,869 in 2016, which increased to 23,082 in 2017 and to 27,728 in 2018, while in 2019, it again reported the highest crime rate “at 177.8 per lakh population”, she said.

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee General Secretary Bobbeeta Sharma highlighted incidents of rape and violence in the recent past, including the alleged rape and killing of a teenager and her aunt in Dibrugarh district.

The girl was sleeping with her aunt, who was killed, and the girl was dragged out of the house, raped and then killed by the miscreants, Sharma alleged.

“A house is considered to be the safest place but under this government, even the four walls are not safe for women in Assam,” she said.

Sharma said the fact that such cases are increasing proves that the state government and its agencies have failed to instil fear among the perpetrators.

She added that the Congress in its manifesto for the forthcoming polls will include several measures for the protection of women, including a woman police battalion force and women cell in all police stations.

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