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Year-End Review 2019- Ministry of Road Transport & Highways

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Ministry of Road and Transports

This was a year for consolidating the gains that accrued from major policy decisions taken in the previous five years, a time for monitoring of ongoing projects, tackling road blocks and adding to the already impressive pace of work achieved during the past years. During 2018-19, projects in about 5,494 km length were awarded and completion was achieved in about 10,855 km length of roads. The rate of development of roads has increased significantly from about 11.7 km during 2013-14 to about 30 km now. During the current year, projects for 3211 km length have been awarded and 5958 km length has been constructed till November 2019.

During the year the Ministry and its associated organizations have carried forward the good work of the previous years, expanding the national highways network in the country, taking various steps to make these highways safe for the commuters and making best efforts to minimize adverse impact on the environment. As a result, National Highways (NHs) length has increased from 91,287 km in April, 2014 to about 1,32,500 km. as on 31.12.2019.

Construction of National Highways

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YearAward (Km)Construction (Km)
2019-20*32115958
2018-19549310855
2017-18170559829
2016-17159488231
2015-16100986061
2014-1579724410

                              *Achievement till Nov, 2019

Targets for 2019-20

        Award         –     10,000 Km

      Construction –    11,000 Km

Under ToT mode, a bundle of 9 projects with total length of 566 km has been awarded this Financial Year for a concession fee of Rs. 5,011 crores against the reserve price of Rs. 4,998.71 crore. Further initiatives are being taken up to bid out more projects under TOT mode during this Financial Year.

Accelerated Development of Highways

The Ministry proposes to develop additional 60,000 kms of National Highways in the next five years, of which 2500 km are Express Ways/Access Controlled Highways, 9000 kms Economic Corridors, 2000 kms for Coastal and Port Connectivity Highways and 2000 kms Border Road/ Strategic Highways. The Ministry also intends to improve connectivity for 100 tourist destinations and construct Bypasses for 45 towns/cities during this period.

Expenditure of Ministry increased from 33,745 crore in 2013-14 to Rs. 1,37,354 crore in 2018-19. During the current year an expenditure of Rs. 85,275 crore has already been incurred till November 2019 including IEBR of NHAI.

Augmenting Finances through Innovative Instruments

With a view to augmenting sources of funding for NH projects, the NHAI intends to raise Rupees one lakh crore through Toll-Operate-Transfer (TOT) Model of asset monetization in the next five years. Finances are also likely to accrue from Securitization of Toll Revenues as well as the setting up of Infra Investment Trust (InvIT). Other steps being taken by NHAI include financing new projects through National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) supported SPVs.

Toll Operate Transfer (TOT) and Securitization of user fee receipts of NHs

With a view to expanding the project base available with NHAI for monetization under TOT mode and for raising finance against toll receipts from identified Public Funded/Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM) projects through securitization, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has accorded the following approval (vide communication no. CCEA/20/2019 (i) dated 25.11.2019 ):

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NHAI is authorized to monetize public-funded NH projects which are operational and are collecting toll for at least one year after the COD through the Toll Operate Transfer (TOT) on a case to case basis.

NHAI is authorized to vary the Concession Period between 15 to 30 years depending on project features.

The detailed proposal for every TOT bundle, including the proposed project, stretches; estimated concession value & proposed concession period shall be approved by NHAI Board (Authority).

NHAI is allowed to raise long term finance from banks by securitizing the user fee receipts from fee plazas as alternate mode of asset monetization.

Securitization would offer an alternative mode for raising finance against toll receipts from identified Public Funded/HAM projects. Securitization as a model entails the generation of upfront funds against the future cash flows generated by select assets.

Infrastructure Investment Trusts

In order to enhance NHAI’s resource mobilization, the Cabinet has accorded the following approval (vide communication 39/CM/2019(i) dated 13.12.2019):

NHAI is authorized to set up Infrastructure Investment Trust(s), as per InvIT Guidelines issued by SEBI, to monetize completed National Highways that have a toll collection track record of at least one year and NHAI reserves the right to levy toll on the identified highway.

NHAI is authorized to incorporate SPV(s) which are essential and integral part of the entire InvIT structure.

NHAI is authorized to set up its first InvIT as per the structure approved by NHAI Board and to incorporate two SPVs which are essential and integral part of the InvIT structure:

  • An SPV to hold all identified public funded projects to be placed in an InvIT
  • An SPV to act as an Investment Manager in the proposed InvIT

NHAI is authorized to create a reserve fund from the sums received from InvIT, which shall be kept in a separate account for repayment of debt.

Progress of Major Programmes/ Landmark Projects

The work of major bridge across Sharavathi backwaters, approaches between Ambargodu and Kalasvali in Karnataka and 16 packages of Trans Rajasthan Highways project have been awarded.

A three-lane underpass inaugurated at Parade Road junction near Manekshaw Centre on NH 8 in New Delhi on 12.07.2019.  With the opening of this underpass, movement of traffic from Airport to Dhaula Kuan has become signal free.

Dasna-Hapur section of Delhi-Meerut Expressway (package-3) in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilakhuwa has been inaugurated by the Hon’ble Minister, Shri Nitin Gadkari on 30th September, 2019.  The completion of this section is expected to further help in decongesting the National Capital Region, bring down pollution levels and reduce travel time significantly.

The integrated bus ports in Cuttack (Odisha) and in Baddi (Himachal Pradesh) have been approved and the DPRs thereon are under progress.

National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) program

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The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has launched the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) program which provides for collection of user fee through FASTags based on RFID technology. In order to save fuel, time and pollution and to ensure seamless movement of traffic, it has been decided to enable all lanes in Fee Plazas for electronic toll collection program through FASTags. The Tolling systems would be spruced up to create a digital experience of seamless tolling for all the Highway users.

The Ministry vide letter dated 29th November, 2019 initiated the process of declaring “FASTag lane of Fee Plaza” for all the lane to be complied w.e.f. 15th December, 2019. However, considering the request of NHAI and that the Citizens inconvenience this condition has been eased for the next 30 days. It has been accordingly decided that depending on the traffic pile up at high traffic volume fee plazas, not more than 25% “FASTag lane of Fee Plaza” may be converted temporarily to hybrid lane by the RO concerned. It should also be ensured that least possible number be converted into hybrid lane and that at least 75% lanes of every fee plaza remain declared and operational as “FASTag lane of Fee Plaza” in order to incentivize the vehicles carrying FASTag. A total of 1,11,70,811 FASTag have been issued till 26.12.2019.

Ministry is trying to bring inter-operability of the FASTags with the State Governments so that a single FASTag can be used both at State Highways Toll Plaza and National Highways Toll Plaza. An NHAI Prepaid Wallet was also launched giving customers the choice of not linking their FASTag to their bank accounts and includes the feature of UPI recharge.

Discouraging the use of ‘Single-Use Plastic’

This Ministry has directed all offices/officers/staff to stop use of ‘Single-Use Plastic’ in office premises, and also to use locally produced environment-friendly products such as Kulhads, clay glasses/plates etc. in place of harmful plastic products.

 Swachhata hi Seva Campaign (SHS)

The Government decided that in 2019-20, the ‘Swachhata hi Seva Campaign (SHS)’ 2019 between 11th September, 2019 to 27th October, 2019 will focus on Plastic Waste Management as the main theme.  For the campaign, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways prepared a detailed Action Plan and the personnel undertook Shramdaan and ensured the collection of all plastic waste on and around National Highways.  Efforts for awareness generation were also successful; roughly 69,000 people were mobilized, and shramdaan of around 2,22,226 lac-man hours was done during the campaign. Waste plastic has been used in 56.96 km of road length by Nov, 2019.  More roads are being constructed using plastic waste.

Road Safety

State Support Programme

A State Support Programme aimed at incentivising the States to improve their road safety performance is proposed to launched to reduce the overall fatalities by road accidents by 25% by 2024. With a view to accurately recording the accident details so that timely corrective action is undertaken a Geo-Tagged accident data collection programme would be launched under the project “Integrated Road Accident Database (IRAD)”. IT based road safety infrastructure would be erected on all the four lane and above Highways. Incidence management systems shall also be provided on all such Highways.

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019

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The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is the principal instrument through which road transport is regulated in the country. The same has been amended first time in a comprehensive way after thirty years by The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, passed by the Parliament and published in the Gazette of India on 9th August 2019.

The Act will bring reforms in the area of Road Safety, bring citizen facilitation, transparency, and reduce corruption with the help of information technology and removing intermediaries. The Act will strengthen public transport, safeguard and protect Good Samaritan and reform the insurance and compensation regime. It will allow innovation and new technologies such as driverless vehicles, to be tested in live environment and increase efficiency in research. The Act will facilitate Divyang by allowing motor vehicles to be converted to adapted vehicles with post-facto approval and facilitating licence to drive adapted vehicles. The provisions of compensation and post – accident treatment have been amended and measures will be taken provide cashless treatment for accident victims.

Road Safety Provisions and Penalties

  • It facilitates electronic monitoring of vehicles for enforcing traffic rules.
  • Provision of a refresher training course to obtain the DL after its suspension or revocation for certain offences like over speeding, drunken driving etc.
  • Penalties have been introduced for new offences and enhanced for existing offences.
  • For offences committed by juveniles-
  • penalty of Rs. 25000 and imprisonment up to 3 years for the owner/guardian.
  • Digital intermediaries and aggregators (Ola and Uber) will follow guidelines prescribed by the Centre.
  • Constitution of National Road Safety Board to render advice on Road Safety and Traffic Management.

Citizen facilitation, Transparency and Reduction in Corruption

  • All forms, fees and documents under the Act can be submitted online to avoid human intervention.
  • Dealer point registration – for registration of new motor vehicles, the onus to apply for registration has been shifted to dealers and the requirement to produce vehicles before authority has been removed.
  • Formulation of National Registers for DLs and registrations to bring transparency.
  • Automated testing.
  • The validity periods for DLs have been extended.
  • DLs can be renewed anytime between 1 year before its expiry till 1 year after its expiry to facilitate citizen away from home, visiting abroad, chronic patients etc.

Employment facilitation

  • The requirement of minimum educational qualification for license to drive transport vehicles has been removed.
  • Scheme for setting up driving schools with the Central assistance.

Increased accountability of manufacturers of Motor Vehicles

  • Centre can order recall of motor vehicles for any defect.

Insurance and Compensation

  • Constitution of Motor Vehicle Accident Fund.
  • compensation for hit and run cases.
  • Cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour.
  • Drivers and Co-driver/helper have been included as third parties, for the purpose of insurance.

Implementation Status of MVA, 2019

The Central Government has made operational around 60 provisions of the new Motor Vehicles Amendment Act starting from 1st of September 2019 in whole of India.

  • For operations of these provisions there is no requirement of amendment of the rules.
  • The provisions implemented from 1st of September include provisions relating to-
    • Enhanced penalties for the offences under the Motor Vehicles Act
    • Facilitation of the licencing process so that the citizen can apply anywhere in the State for obtaining the Learner Licence, Driving Licence or Renewal
    • Allowing driving licence holders to apply for renewal any time between one year between one year before its expiry upto one year after its expiry.  This will greatly help our citizens working and staying abroad.
    • Facilitation of the process of registration of vehicles process so that the citizen can apply anywhere in the State for registering the vehicles or recording any other changes
    • Provisions which provide for powers to the Central and the State Governments for formulation of rules
  • The States are in the process of issuing notifications in regard to the amount to be charged for the offences which are ‘compoundable’.

The rest of the provisions would be made operational as soon as the Rules for them have been drafted.  The process of formulation of rules is underway and we expect that in the next 2 to 4 months the rules would be in place as it involves detailed consultation.

Transport Sector

The Ministry has notified GSR886 (E) dated 29th November, 2019 to bring amendment in the forms in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 in regard to capture of the Mobile Numbers of the owners when availing any service relating to the Registration of the Vehicles. While examining the subject “Management of worsening traffic in Delhi”, Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee MHA has also observed that a large number of vehicles of VAHAN data base do not have the mobile numbers. In view of the above, considering the urgency of the issue the relevant Forms in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 which pertains to the service relating to the Motor Vehicle i.e. the registration, transfer, Register of Motor Vehicle, Renewal, duplicate copy, grant of NOC, change of address, entry or termination entry for Hire/ Purchase/ Hypothecation are proposed to be amended to include for capturing the mobile number of the owner as and when they apply for availing services.

To ensure ease of doing business at RTOs, it is proposed that from 2020 learning licenses would be issued online, registration of vehicle would be done the same day and App based transfer of license and registration would be made possible.

The Ministry issued Notification bearing No. GSR 784 (E) dated 12th November, 2008, vide which it had been mandated that all commercial vehicles manufactured after April 2009 need to have retro-reflective tape applied.  This is as per Rule 104 of CMVR. It has come to the notice of the Government that most of the older vehicles, taking advantage of this notification, are taking exemption during their annual fitment test.  In this regard, this Ministry vide GSR 80 (E) dated 23rd October, 2019 has mandated fixation of retro-reflective tape on all the vehicles irrespective of date of manufacturing and also notified their specifications. This is expected to enhance road safety.

Keeping with the demand of economically backward and unemployed persons, this Ministry issued a notification GSR 681 (E) dated 23rd September, 2019 for omission of Rule 8 of the CMVR 1989, wherein educational qualifications have been prescribed for obtaining driving licenses.

In order to ensure compliance of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, an advisory to all States/ UTs has been issued on 23rd September, 2019 to facilitate citizens so that they can use Digilocker or mParivahan app to show Driving Licence, Registration Certificate, etc., in electronic format. The States were also requested that provision for handheld devices for mParivahan or e-challan with requisite ‘PoS’ machine may be made available to the Enforcement officers.

This Ministry made an amendment in the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 vide GSR 527 (E) dated 6.6.2018, which provides for online IT based linkage of PUC certificate with VAHAN database. The States through an advisory dated 23rd September, 2019 have been requested that the information relating to the PUC check should be made using the online system being provided by the Ministry and the data should be made available to citizens in ‘electronic form’ also on the m-Parivahan platform.

With a view to enhancing the security features in a vehicle, the Ministry has issued a draft notification GSR 521 (E) on 24th July, 2019, allowing the motor vehicles and their parts, components, assemblies, sub-assemblies to be affixed with permanent and nearly invisible microdots that can be read physically with a microscope and identified with ultra violet light sources.

In order to combat the issue of pollution by encouraging usage of less polluting fuel, the Ministry issued a draft notification GSR 522 (E) dated 24th July, 2019 regarding emission standards for additional alternate fuels.

The Ministry, in keeping with the demand of economically backward and unemployed persons, has issued a notification GSR 681 (E) dated 23rd September, 2019 for omission of Rule 8 of the CMVR, 1989, i.e., the minimum educational qualification for driving transport vehicles.

Draft notification has been issued on 19.06.2019 to exempt Battery-Operated Vehicles/electric vehicles from paying registration fees.

This Ministry has authorized and provided for one more Vehicle Testing Agency for Testing of Vehicles.  As per the notification dated 18th July, 2019, GSR 511 (E) the Ministry through amendment in Rule 126 of the Motor Vehicles Amendment Rules, 1989 has added ‘National automotive Test Tracks (NATRAX) Indore’.  This will ease the workload and pressure on the existing vehicle testing agencies such as ARAI, ICAT, ARAI, GARC, etc.

Data on “Road Accidents in India 2018”

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has released its annual publication on ‘Road Accidents in India, 2018’. It provides data on accident related deaths and injuries, calendar yea- wise, based on information supplied by the Police Department of States and UTs. As per the Report, Road accidents in the country have increased marginally by 0.46 % during 2018 with the year seeing 4,67,044 road accidents as against 4,64,910 in 2017. The fatalities during the same period have also risen by about 2.37% and 1,51,471 persons were killed in 2018 as against 1,47,913 in 2017. Road accident injuries have however showed a decrease of 0.33% in 2018 as compared to 2017.

Registration Mark for newly formed UT, Ladakh      

Ministry vide SO 4262(E) dated 25th November, 2019 has assigned a new Registration Mark for newly formed UT, Ladakh as “LA” for registration of vehicles u/s 41(6) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.  This is applicable from the date of publication of Notification.

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Business

JP Morgan in Supreme Court: Attachment of properties by ED illegal

On May 22, the Supreme Court allowed the ED to attach properties of J.P. Morgan in Amrapali case, after the agency detected Rs 187 crore as proceeds of crime.

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JP Morgan Building

New Delhi, May 27 : J.P. Morgan India on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it has not committed any wrongdoing and the attachment of its properties by the Enforcement Directorate is “blatantly illegal”, as it has no role in the Amrapali Group housing scam.

The ED had informed the Supreme Court that it has attached Rs 187 crore assets of multinational firm for its alleged role in siphoning of Amrapali Group home buyers’ money.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U.U. Lalit asked the ED to file a short reply on the grievance raised by J.P. Morgan India.

J.P Morgan India, represented by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, said the attachment of its properties was blatantly illegal as it does not have a penny worth of investment in Amrapali group. Instead, it was J.P. Morgan Singapore and Mauritius which have put the money in the real estate firm, he added. He contended that on Tuesday, ED attached the account of the firm, according to the apex court direction, to recover the money.

The bench noted it was concerned with the contention raised by a firm, which has branches all over the world and sought the ED’s short reply on the application before the next date of hearing.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing SBICAP, contended before the bench that the financial institution is examining the funding of stalled housing projects of Amrapali Group. The court replied that it will hear SBICAP next week and listed the matter on June 3.

Additional Solicitor General Vikramjeet Banerjee, representing the Centre, said that the Ministry of Finance has empowered SBICAP, the fund manager, for seed funding. He urged the top court not to issue any general direction.

The bench asked Noida and Greater Noida to be more accommodating regarding the rate of interest, and if they were to remain inflexible, then it would be adverse for the real estate sector. “If you give some relaxations then all housing projects will go through,” it added.

The top court reserved the order on the issue of Floor Area Ratio (FAR), the interest levied by the Noida and Greater Noida authorities and the financing for unsold inventories.

On May 22, the Supreme Court allowed the ED to attach properties of J.P. Morgan in Amrapali case, after the agency detected Rs 187 crore as proceeds of crime.

A bench comprising Justices Mishra and Lalit ordered attachment of the property of the company along with personal properties of its directors under section 5 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing the ED, contended before the bench that the officials of the agency have established the money trail, and the top court should modify its December 2019 order and allow the agency to attach the properties of J.P. Morgan and its directors.

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Cities

Maharashtra Covid-19 deaths zoom to 105 on Wednesday, cases cross 55K

Meanwhile, the number of people sent to home-quarantine increased from 485,623 to 499,387 — a jump of 13,764 — and those in institutional quarantine went up from 33,545 to 35,107, a spurt of 1,562.

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Coronavirus India PTI

Mumbai, May 27 : Maharashtra on Wednesday notched a new high of 105 Covid-19 deaths, from Tuesday’s previous high of 97 fatalities, with the number of cases shooting above 55,000, health officials said here.

The figures include a whopping 64 deaths in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region alone, besides 2,190 new cases recorded across the state.

This comes to roughly one death every 14 minutes, and an average 91 new cases recorded every hour, in the state.

Maharashtra has been recording 90-plus fatalities and over 2,000 new patients for the past two days consecutively, with the last highest figure of infections being 3,041 cases on May 24.

With 105 fatalities, the state death toll has touched 1,897 and the total number of coronavirus patients increased from 54,758 to 56,948 now.

The Health Department said the state now had 37,125 active cases — swelling by 1,947 over Tuesday’s 35,178.

However, the doubling rate has improved from last week’s 11.5 days to 14.7 days now with a 31.5 percent recovery rate.

Of the total 105 fatalities today, 32 were recorded in Mumbai alone, taking the city deaths up from to 1,097 now, while the number of Covid-19 positive patients here shot up by 1,044 cases to touch 34,018.

Mumbai’s congested Dharavi slum continued to be a major red-hotspot with 18 new cases, taking the total number of infectees to 1,639 and figure of deaths climbing to 61.

Of Mumbai’s 32 deaths, besides one from Gujarat, there were 23 fatalities in Thane (Thane City, Navi Mumbai), 10 in Jalgaon, nine in Pune, eight in Raigad, six in Akola, four in Aurangabad, three each in Nashik and Solapur, two in Satara, and one each in Nagpur, Nandurbar and Palghar.

They comprised 72 men and 33 women, and nearly 63 per cent of them suffered from other serious ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, heart problems and asthma.

On the positive side, 964 fully cured patients returned home on Wednesday, taking the number of those discharged to 17,918.

Maharashtra Police recorded one more death of a policeman, taking the total toll to 21, besides the total infectees increased by 75 to touch 1,964, comprising 233 officers and 1,741 personnel.

The MMR continued to cause grave concerns with 1,290 Covid-19 deaths and positive cases shooting to 43,466.

Though trailing a distant second after Mumbai, Pune Division fatalities touched 350, besides 7,688 patients.

The next major area of concern is Nashik Division with 121 deaths and 1,765 positive cases, followed by Aurangabad Division with 58 fatalities and 1,572 cases, and finally Akola Division with 40 deaths and 857 cases.

Latur Division has eight deaths and 284 cases, Kolhapur Division seven deaths and 651 patients, and finally Nagpur Division with 10 deaths and 612 cases.

Meanwhile, the number of people sent to home-quarantine increased to 582,701 with a high jump of 15,079, and those in institutional quarantine went up to 37,761, a spurt of 2,561.

The state’s containment zones increased from 2,562 to 2,684 on Wednesday and 17,119 health teams have carried out a survey of a population of around 68 lakhs in the state.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at [email protected])

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‘We take all matters seriously’: SC on fake news on Tablighi Jamaat

On April 13, a bench headed by Chief Justice Bobde and comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and M.M Shantanagoudar said: “We will not gag the press.”

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Tablighi Jamaat

New Delhi, May 27 : The Supreme Court on Wednesday, directing the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) be made a party to the pleas alleging a section of media was demonising the Muslim community in connection with the Nizamuddin Markaz incident in Delhi, said: “We take all matters seriously.”

The statement came from a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy as counsel representing Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind (JUH), urged the top court to take the matter seriously. The bench said that “don’t repeat that these matters are serious”.

The bench issued notice to the Centre and the Press Council of India (PCI) and asked the authorities concerned to respond on the matter within two weeks.

“The petitioners (JUH and others) are directed to implead the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) as party respondent in the array of parties. Issue notice to all the respondents as also the newly added respondent(s). Let copies of these writ petitions be served upon the respondents by the petitioners during the course of the day. Mr. K.M. Nataraj, learned Additional Solicitor General appearing for the respondent(s)-Union of India, prays for and is granted two weeks’ time to file reply affidavit,” it said.

The next hearing on the matter is scheduled on June 15.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the Muslim clerics body, contended before the bench that fake news damage the secular fabric of the nation and broadcast of such news make outs offences under the law. “Why is the government silent,” he submitted. As he urged the apex court to take action against the media organizations, the bench asked the PCI what action it has taken.

The apex court told the Centre’s counsel that do not let people instigate, as these things later become law and order issues. The bench also sought specific reply on the alleged violation of the Cable Television (Regulation) Act by the news channels.

On April 13, a bench headed by Chief Justice Bobde and comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and M.M Shantanagoudar said: “We will not gag the press.”

The observation from the apex court came on a plea by JUH seeking direction to the Centre to stop the dissemination of fake news and take strict action against the sections of the media spreading bigotry and communal hatred in connection with Nizamuddin Markaz. The bench, which heard the matter through video conferencing, asked the petitioners to implead the PCI as a party in the case and posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.

The pleas, filed through advocate Ejaz Maqbool, said: “By communalising the issue and demonising the entire Muslim community, the actions of the media pose a serious threat to the life and liberty of Muslims across the country. The demonisation is also an infringement of the right to live with dignity which is also covered under Article 21 of the Constitution.”

As the petitioner’s counsel claimed reports from certain sections of the media constantly talked about Tablighi spreading coronavirus in the country, the bench replied: “We think you should add the Press Council of India as a party to the case. It is a necessary party to this case, implead them, thereafter we will hear this.”

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