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Time to stand with judiciary, says Jaitley

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Ranjan Gogoi

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday attacked the “institutional destabilizers” saying that their lending shoulder to “completely unverified allegations” was destabilising the institution of the Chief Justice of India and said that if those peddling “falsehood” were not dealt with in an exemplary manner, the trend will only accelerate.

In a blog post, a day after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Jaitley said the incident of a junior ex-lady employee of the Supreme Court making harassment charges has “acquired a disproportionate magnitude”.

“Such complaints, when they are made in the ordinary course of any administrative functioning, are referred to the appropriate committee. However, when the complainant distributes copies of her representation to other judges of the Supreme Court and the media in order to sensationalise her allegations, it ceases to be routine.

“When four digital media organisations with an unparalleled track record of ‘institutional disruption’ send similar questionnaires to the Chief Justice of India, there is obviously something more than what meets the eye,” he said.

In the blog ‘It’s Time to Stand up With the Judiciary’, Jaitley said India has always taken pride in its independent judiciary.

The CJI on Saturday rubbished an allegation of sexual harassment against him, saying there was a “larger conspiracy” to destabilize the independence of the judiciary, which, he said, is “under very serious threat”.

After the allegation levelled by a former employee of the Supreme Court was reported by a section of the media, a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by the Chief Justice and including Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Sanjeev Khanna, held an urgent hearing this morning — a holiday — over the matter.

Jaitley said that the present CJI is extremely well regarded in terms of personal decency, values, ethics and integrity.

“Even when critics disagree with his judicial view, his value system has never been questioned. Lending shoulder to completely unverified allegations coming from a disgruntled person with a not-so-glorious track record is aiding the process of destabilisation of the institution of the Chief Justice of India,” he said.

Jaitley said that reputation is an integral part of a person’s fundamental right to live with dignity. “An intimidated judge can fear consequences of a possible view that he is taking. It is, therefore, essential that all well-meaning persons stand with the judicial institution when destabilizers get ready for an assault.”

He said since the case relating to the allegations is pending in judicial side before the bench of a court, it should be left to the wisdom of the court as to how they intend to deal with it.

“But let it be remembered that this is not the first case of the ‘institutional destabilizers’ nor will it be the last. If those who peddle falsehood to destroy the institution are not dealt with in an exemplary manner, this trend will only accelerate, he said.

Jaitley said that the last few years have witnessed the consolidation of ‘institution destabilizers’ in a major way.

He said many of the “destabilisers represent Left or ultra-left views, have no electoral base or popular support but still have a disproportionate presence in the media and the academia.” “When ousted for mainstream media, they have taken refuge in the digital and social media. They continue to believe in the old Marxian philosophy of ‘wrecking the system from within.’ They use free speech to destroy the judicial institution,” he said.

The minister said that this section has found a convenient ally in a small but vocal section of the bar. “This section exploits the judicial refrain of excessively using the power of contempt. However, they themselves have no hesitation in contemptuous behaviour.

“They go public against individual judges, including the Chief Justice, when they fail to get a favourable order. They carry on social media campaigns against judges who write judgements adverse to them. They have little regard for truth but masquerade as protectors of public interest. Their behaviour in courts is offensive both to the Bench and their opponents. They threaten walkouts if judges are in disagreement. For the ‘institutional disruptors’ there are no red lines.”

The minister said that India has witnessed a series of attacks by the ‘institution disruptors’ against judges who are unwilling to agree with them. “It may not be an exaggeration to say that today both in court and by creating an environment outside, a mass-intimidation of Judges is on. Some lawyers have used intimidatory behaviour as a tactic to expand their practise. Intimidation and discrediting are important weapons in the hands of these people.”

He said cases after cases have witnessed facts being manufactured and twisted over the last few years and falsehood found support in a section in the media. “Upon deeper analysis most of them were found to be factually incorrect. Facts were manufactured. The same ‘gang’ was behind this campaign,” he said.

The BJP leader said that independent judiciary and free media are both essential for a vibrant democracy and one cannot take upon itself the task of destroying the other.

Disaster

COVID-19: 55 inmates of Guwahati jail test positive for coronavirus

Meanwhile, the Assam government has refuted the media reports that Akhil Gogoi, jailed top farmers’ leader, tested COVID-19 positive.

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Guwahati Central Jail

Guwahati, July 11 : As many as 55 inmates lodged in Guwahati Central jail have tested positive for coronavirus, causing concern among the authorities, health officials said on Saturday.

A senior officials of the Health and Family Welfare Department said that the authorities of both health and prison departments are inquiring how the jailbirds were infected by the contagious virus during the past few days.

In pursuance to the Supreme Court”s order, different state governments of the northeastern region including Assam have taken several steps to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus in jails.

In all the eight northeastern states, several thousand prisoners had already been released on interim bail or PR Bond to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic inside the jails.

Meanwhile, the Assam government has refuted the media reports that Akhil Gogoi, jailed top farmers’ leader, tested COVID-19 positive.

On Akhil Gogoi’s Covid positive report, Inspector General of Prisons Dasarath Das said he had not received any such information from the health department.

Gogoi’s legal counsel Santanu Barthakur told the media, “I received the news that Gogoi has tested positive for COVID-19.”

The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samitee (KMSS) founder is lodged in the Guwahati Central Jail for the past seven months for his role in the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

On Wednesday, two associates of Gogoi, who are in judicial custody, tested COVID-19 positive.

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India

China, India stand very differently at UN: Syed Akbaruddin

The 1985 batch IFS officer, who retired recently, shared his memories of being a part of the university as a student of Political Science.

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Syed Akbaruddin United Nations

Hyderabad, July 12 : India’s former permanent representative at the United Nations, Syed Akbaruddin on Saturday said countries like China and India stand very differently at the UN, in terms of their perspective and approach.

Akbaruddin was speaking during an online interaction with the Vice Chancellor and other faculty members of the University of Hyderabad, his alma mater.

About his experience working at the United Nations, he said: “The ones who have been a part of the United Nations very well know that UN is not an enchanted place. Countries like China and India stand very differently in the UN, in terms of their perspective and approach. China is always quiet and speaks only for itself whereas India always wants to speak for everyone.”

The Alumni Association of University of Hyderabad had organised an online interactive session with a distinguished alumnus in presence of Vice Chancellor Prof. Appa Rao Podile and Professor P. Prakash Babu, Dean, School of Medical Sciences, and also the General Secretary of the Alumni Association. Faculty and students from the schools participated in this programme.

Responding to a question by Professor Pramod K, Nayar, Department of English, Akbaruddin talked about the current situation of foreign policy in India. “Foreign policy is something we should not take for granted. It is not a private body but a collective government enterprise. We need to give more time and space to the government to act on the foreign policy that has been taking an upward trajectory, however, we, as a country, always fancy something better than what we own.”

As Professor Vinod Pavarala, Department of Communication, asked the former diplomat about the difference between trained civil servants and political appointees becoming ambassadors, he said: “If there is better talent available outside the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), we should not shy away because India”s diversity is such that a closed club cannot represent the whole of it. The talent we have today is more diversified and has the potential of bringing a lot to the table.”

The 1985 batch IFS officer, who retired recently, shared his memories of being a part of the university as a student of Political Science.

“My passion for learning and understanding International Relations ignited here in HCU (Hyderabad Central University). For someone like me who always wanted to study about state issues, my professors made me realise that one doesn”t need to feel alienated from their roots when they learn more about international relations. In fact, a better understanding of international relations gives you a clearer world view in understanding your roots,” he said, as per a university statement.

Akbaruddin, who served as India”s permanent representative at the UN from January 2016 to April 2020, also had advice for the young minds. “One should always be confident about their values because your values cannot be crushed under any circumstances. Your intrinsic values always prevail, even when you face difficult situations.”

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Cities

Criminal on parole nabbed with illegal weapon, Police say Dawood aide

His younger brother Ashraf Awas was also a dreaded criminal and was killed in an encounter with Mumbai Police in 2002.

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9mm Brazilian make Taurus Beretta

New Delhi, July 11 : Delhi Police Crime Branch has arrested a convicted criminal who was out on parole for keeping illegal weapons. He was nabbed with a semi automatic pistol — 9mm Brazilian make Taurus Beretta with 10 live rounds. Police said that he has been an associate of Dawood Ibrahim.

Police said Anwar Thakur is a resident of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.

“The accused is a life convict in a murder case of Sadar Bazar in Delhi in which he had shot dead a police informer inside the police station in 1992,” said Rakesh Pawaria, DCP Crime.

Anwar had come out on parole on March 17, 2020.

He had cases under the Arms Act registered against him in Lodhi Colony and Pandav Nagar in Delhi. Police are now trying to ascertain how he got possession of an illegal weapon.

His younger brother Ashraf Awas was also a dreaded criminal and was killed in an encounter with Mumbai Police in 2002.

“It is also known that Anwar Thakur and his brother Ashraf Thakur were associated with Dawood Ibrahim and were also close associates of Fajlu Rehman, who was closely associated with gangster Babloo Srivastava. The accused Anwar Thakur is an associate of Chhenu Pehalwan – the patron of the notorious Chhenu gang active in the Trans-Yamuna area, who is languishing in Tihar Jail. Anwar Thakur would roam in the area in an effort to revive the Chhenu gang which was becoming weak and losing its clout due to the judicial custody of Chhenu Pehalwan,” the officer said.

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