8 Former Navy Officers in Qatar Jail Accused of Spying; Now, India Has 2.9 Million More People than China: UN Report
Ex-AG says society will accept if SC legalises same-sex marriage, over 37% of VVPAT machines ‘defective’, a novel method of encounter?
Snapshot of the day
April 19, 2023
Eight former officers of the Indian Navy, imprisoned in Qatar, have been accused of spying on the oil-rich kingdom’s secretive programme to obtain Italian-made, high-tech submarines, intelligence sources have told ThePrint. Legal proceedings against the eight officers are reported to have begun on March 29, and the next hearing is scheduled for May. Fincantieri SpA, a Trieste-based shipbuilding firm, was contracted to deliver two submarines in 2021, making the emirate the first Arab state to operate undersea vehicles.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside the Bombay high court order that had discharged former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba in a Maoist links case. A bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar remanded the matter to the high court for fresh consideration, keeping all contentions open, Bar and Bench reported. The judges said that a different bench of the high court should hear the matter now, since the earlier bench had made its opinion clear.
India is now the most populous country in the world with 2.9 million more people than China, according to the latest data from the United Nations Population Fund. “The State of World Population Report, 2023”, released by the UN body on Wednesday, said India’s population is 1,428.6 million while China’s stands at 1,425.7 million – a difference of 2.9 million. Asked in an email by the Hindustan Times whether India’s population has surpassed China’s, Anna Jefferys, media and crisis communications adviser at UNFPA, said: “Yes, though it is unclear exactly when the crossover took place and direct comparisons can be hard due to the slightly different timings of countries’ individual data collection.”
During the same-sex marriage hearing in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for one of the petitioners, said a declaration by the court recognising same-sex marriage will drive society to accept it whether Parliament does or doesn’t follow it up with a law. He said it is outdated to say that only the husband must pay alimony and maintenance after divorce. In a fresh affidavit to the court, the Modi government urged that all states and union territories be made parties to the proceedings. Any decision on the issue without obtaining their view would render the present “adversarial exercise incomplete and truncated”, the affidavit said. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta told the court that the Centre has asked the states to give their views on the matter. The hearing will continue on Thursday.
The Election Commission has flagged over 6.5 lakh VVPAT machines, or over 37% of the VVPAT machines available, as “defective”, The Wire has learnt. These machines are now being sent back to the manufacturers for rectifying the defects. Interestingly, these are the newest machines, the latest M3 generation introduced for the first time in 2018. Calling for more transparency, experts said some machines being defective is routine, but 6.5 lakh is an alarmingly high number.
Disturbed by the revelations made by Satya Pal Malik, the families of CRPF jawans who died in the February 2019 Pulwama attack want to know the “truth”. Malik has alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to remain silent when he blamed the Centre’s lapses for the deaths, and highlighted the Union home ministry’s refusal of aircraft that had forced the convoy to travel by road.
Despite two government institutes – the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education and the Wildlife Institute of India – finding that millions of tonnes of coal are lying unextracted at the bottom of the existing mine, the Modi government cleared another expansion on about 3,000 acres of forest land in Chhattisgarh of a coal mine operated by Adani Group, in February 2022. Scroll reports how the group had increased the mining area horizontally rather than digging vertically to obtain deeper coal seams, causing the forest to be cleared earlier than necessary.
A once-respected diplomat and now a mouthpiece of the government, foreign minister S Jaishankar was “appalled” when former Karnataka chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah tagged Prime Minister Modi, Karnataka chief minister Bommai and the union home and external affairs ministries and tweeted that a group of Kannadigas from the semi-nomadic Hakki Pakki tribe was marooned in Sudan. Siddaramaiah then came back at the “appalled” minister with another sharp tweet.
Sourav Ganguly has unfollowed Virat Kohli on Instagram, a day after Kohli did the same for the former BCCI president. This comes after the two fell out over the IPL match between Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals, which made their differences all the more apparent.
The National Investigation Agency is looking into the demonstrations and attempted vandalism of the Indian high commission in London last month. The agency has taken over the case from the special cell of the Delhi police, which had filed a complaint under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and the Unlawful Acts (Prevention) Act since it included illegal acts carried out by some individuals with Indian nationality overseas.
The country witnessed a 55% rise in deaths due to extreme heat between 2000–2004 and 2017–2021. The weather office has forecast above-average temperatures and heatwaves until the end of May. Between 1901 and 2018, India's average temperature increased by around 0.7%, in part because of climate change. And yet, the bad news is that India’s heat action plan does not seem to be working well. BBC reports how heat is killing thousands of people in the country.
After winning the Wisden Almanack’s Leading Cricketer in the World accolades, the Indian team of Suryakumar Yadav and Harmanpreet Kaur have added another gem to their already impressive crown. While Harmanpreet became the first Indian woman to win Cricketer of the Year, Suryakumar was named Wisden Almanack’s top T20I cricketer.
Why is the $3 billion set aside for Indian EV manufacturers inactive? Ken reports that the government sought to increase domestic manufacturing in India by implementing a production-linked incentive programme for the automotive industry, but car giants are worried about its slowness in clarifying misunderstandings about incentives.
How BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had a meal with a Dalit family
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