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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

Mumbai to get 150 more suburban train services from Monday

The selected 10 per cent staff will require QR ID codes from the government which along with a valid identity card to commute after buying tickets/passes, said an official.

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Mumbai, Sep 20 : Mumbai will get an additional 150 suburban services on the Western Railway (WR) which will ease the commuting travails for officegoers and those in essential services permitted by the Maharashtra government, officials said here on Sunday.

With this, the number of WR suburban services will shoot up from 350 to 500 daily, while the Central Railway is already running 355 services.

This works out to 855 services daily – or barely one-third of the regular 2,300-plus suburban services that was the norm before the lockdown in March-end.

AWith the increase in services, the government permitted 10 per cent of key employees of private and cooperative banks to commute by local trains, in addition to essential staff of public sector banks, various government departments, aircraft maintenance staffers and lawyers who have been allowed so far.

The selected 10 per cent staff will require QR ID codes from the government which along with a valid identity card to commute after buying tickets/passes, said an official.

To avoid overcrowding and maintain physical distance, the WR and CR will open additional ticket booking counters at major stations on the suburban section which spans across Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad.

Several railway passengers organisations and Bahujan Vikash Aghadi (BVA) legislator Kshitij from Nalasopara (Palghar) have urged Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to resume suburban services for all office-goers.

Presently, many office-goers, especially those from Thane, Palghar and Raigad who commute to their workplaces in Mumbai are forced to travel at least 6 hours daily owing to huge traffic snarls on main roads and the two highways serving the country’s commercial capital.

Moreover, despite the restricted categories allowed to commute by local trains, there is overcrowding during the morning-evening peak hours making a sham of the physical distancing norms.

Meanwhile, the Covid cases and fatalities in the Mumbai Region (comprising Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad) have been on an upswing since the past few weeks, even as the state case tally reached 12,08,642 besides 32,671 fatalities till date.

Of these, the lion’s share belongs to Mumbai circle with 435,201 cases so far besides 14,780 deaths, causing huge concern among health authorities.

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Cities

11-kg tumour extracted from Mumbai woman’s abdomen

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Mumbai, Sep 20 : Doctors in Mumbai have extracted a gigantic 11-kg tumour from the abdomen of a 55-year-old woman after a marathon nine-hour surgery.

A team of medicos headed by oncologist Dr Tanveer A. Majeed, urologist Dr Santosh Palkar and Dr Shilpa Deshmukh performed the complicated surgery at the Zen Multispeciality Hospital in Chembur.

The patient Sujata Sinha (name changed) is a housewife who noticed her abdomen growing daily accompanied by breathing difficulties.

At the height of lockdown in June, she consulted a local doctor who confirmed the presence of a tumour with ultrasound and CT scan.

However, owing to the lockdown she did not take any further steps or medicines, even as the tumour continued to grow rapidly, making her look obese.

Finally, she was referred to the ZMH and Dr Majeed checked her condition on September 8 to find she was weighing around 80 kgs, and suffered from diabetes and hypertension.

Further tests revealed the huge abdominal tumour encroaching the right half of the abdomen, pushing the right kidney to the left side, duodenum, liver, small intestine and colon to the left side, besides her major blood vessels supplying to the heart.

After further clinical diagnosis, the patient was advised surgery by Dr Majeed as it indicated a rare cancer of connective tissues that resemble fat cells under a microscope.

“After opening the abdomen, we found a huge tumour which had displaced all the other body organs to the left side. It weighed 11 kgs and had dimensions of 55 cm x 40 cm x 35 cm, and the patient lost around one litre of blood during the nine-hour operation,” said Dr Majeed.

The patient is recuperating well at the hospital now, has started an oral liquid diet, can breathe normally, and will be required for a follow-up after three months.

“We delayed treatment due to the pandemic lockdown. But I am fortunate to be operated at ZMH where the doctors saved my life. I feel much lighter now, can eat and breathe properly and resume normal life,” said the patient gratefully.

Prior to this, a team of doctors at the Global Hospital, Parel, had extracted a massive 12-kg tumour from a woman’s abdomen in December 2014.

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Cities

Uttar Pradesh man nabbed for importing drugs from United States

He used to order the drugs from the US through Instagram or Wickr and the payments were made through bitcoins.

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Lucknow, Sep 20: The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has arrested a person from here and seized 2.7 kg of bud (curated marijuana) concealed in an air compressor machine at Delhi.

The consignor is based in the US and a few earlier seizures made by NCB had the same origin which alerted the NCB team.

The payment for the consignment was made through bitcoins and came into contact through Instagram ID of the consignor.

According to the NCB press statement, the parcel was sent to India from the US on August 31.

A detailed investigation into the case with the help of digital analysis led NCB team to the consignee C. Gidwani, a Lucknow resident, who accepted his involvement in the case on September 18.

The necessary digital evidence was also seized. He admitted that he used to import such parcels on a regular basis for last one and a half years for himself and further distribution to his friends.

He used to order the drugs from the US through Instagram or Wickr and the payments were made through bitcoins.

The accused also revealed that he used to get ‘charas’ and ‘marijuana’ from Delhi and Bangalore-based suppliers. Further investigations into the backward and forward linkages were underway.

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