SC Refuses to Cross Rubicon and Issue Orders to Army; Ghost of Rafale Deal Emerges on Eve of Modi's France Visit
Legal delay wins and liberty loses in Umar bail hearing, Pak central banker recalls Manmohan reforms, PM gets bad press in France ahead of visit, eunuchs law struck down, Kerala for cinema tourism
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Snapshot of the day
July 12, 2023
The Supreme Court has deferred the bail hearing of Umar Khalid in the ‘Delhi riots case’ to July 24. The Hindustan Times reports that the court has given more time to the state to make its case ― though it had given it two months already. Khalid has been in jail for over two years. Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, bail becomes an option only when the authorities fail to make a prima facie case. The court had initially moved the hearing forward to Monday, but since that would be a case-heavy day, it moved it further. Writing the day before Khalid’s bail hearing, Gautam Bhatia wrote, “This is the perfect time for the court to protect liberty, defang UAPA, and set an example that unsubstantiated allegations of conspiracy are not a good enough reason to keep people in jail. That first and crucial interpretive step must occur soon.”
The day after tomorrow, Indian PM Narendra Modi will be his pal French President Emmanuel Macron’s guest of honour on Bastille Day. “It is deeply concerning that France should celebrate the ideas of liberty and equality with a leader whom many criticise for undermining democracy in India,” says prominent French newsweekly L’Obs. It feels strongly that the bilateral relationship “should not deter Macron from publicly expressing concerns about India’s growing human rights crisis.”
The ghost of the 2015-16 Rafale deal refuses to go away. On the eve of Modi’s departure for France comes news from Mediapart that French magistrates have asked the Indian government for documents related to an ongoing corruption investigation involving Dassault Aviation’s dealings in India. Whether Modo says oui or non to the request, the outcome will make his government look bad since the documents the French investigators want have been quietly buried by their Indian counterparts.
In response to the Supreme Court’s July 3 order that had sought an “updated status report”, the government of Manipur stated that 142 people had been killed in the state by July 4 in the ongoing violence, and the most deaths were reported from Imphal West and Imphal East districts. The government’s 16-page report notes that 5,995 FIRs had been registered by July 4 and six “important FIRs” had been transferred to the CBI for investigation “independently and with transparency”, according to The Hindu. Ethnic violence still has a free run in the state two months after it began. According to reports on the ground, some 200 people have been killed and over 60,000 displaced since the violence broke out on May 3.
The Supreme Court has rejected the plea of the Manipur Tribal Forum seeking Army protection for Kukis in Manipur. It said that the judiciary had never told the Army how to deploy its troops, and it would not cross this Rubicon now. However, it directed the Union and state governments to protect the lives of all citizens in the state. It’s well-meaning, but they have failed to do exactly that ― or neglected to do so.
More useful is the court’s suggestion to the Manipur government to “duly consider” including members of the Zo-Kuki tribes in the teams of MLAs and ministers formed by the state for “suitable action” and management of relief camps. The fact that not a single MLA from the Zo-Kuki tribes was part of these teams was brought to light in court by the advocate Nizam Pasha, appearing for the Zomi Students Federation before a bench helmed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud. The seven teams are situated across Bishnupur, Churachandpur, Imphal West, Imphal West, Kangpokpi, Kakching and Thoubal and Tengnoupal.
More than 1,500 human rights activists, civil society leaders, journalists, academics and lawyers across the nation signed a joint statement condemning the FIR filed in Imphal against a fact-finding team of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), which concluded that the violence in the state was “state-sponsored.”
Scroll reports that two months of internet shutdown has paralysed Manipur’s economy. Thousands rely directly on the internet for their livelihoods.
Narendra Modi may have kept his silence on the Manipur crisis but the European Parliament has decided to take up the subject, much to the annoyance of the Indian government.
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As Pakistan weathers enormous economic difficulties, a Twitter thread by Murtaza Syed, deputy governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, recalls the 1991 reforms led by Manmohan Singh in India, then in similarly troubled times. A quick FAQ on a significant moment in South Asian history whose memory is being distorted by politics, it closes with Van Morrison and Faiz.
With Delhi facing an alarming rise in the level of Yamuna, the Delhi government is seeking the help of the Centre.
With two months to go for the G20 Summit, Indian negotiators are struggling to forge a consensus on outcome documents because of sharp differences on the text referring to the Ukraine crisis, the Hindustan Times reports. Modi may not be able to extract a joint communique from the summit, and more complications are expected if Putin decides to attend. Clever seating arrangements, as in the foreign ministers’ meeting, are unlikely to help.
Three days before the launch window, ISRO completed the launch rehearsal of Chandrayaan-3. It is scheduled for lunar landing on August 23-24, and will demonstrate ISRO’s capability to land and operate rovers on space objects.
On Tuesday, a helicopter crash in Nepal’s Mount Everest region took six lives. The victims included five Mexican tourists and a Nepalese pilot. The ill-fated helicopter, operated by Manang Air, was en route from a location near Lukla, which serves as the gateway for Everest expeditions, to Kathmandu.
Yesterday, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval said that India has “infinite capacity to absorb dissent”, and no one in the country is under threat “because of your thought, because of your idea”. He added that he believes in “promoting tolerance, dialogue and cooperation” to deal with contemporary challenges and that it is “no coincidence that despite having around 200 million Muslims, the involvement of Indian citizens in global terrorism has been incredibly low”. Doval has rediscovered the element of surprise.
Kerala’s Cinema Tourism project is trying to attract visitors to emotive cinema locations, and Mani Ratnam will lead off with an event at Bekal Fort, the setting of scenes in his Bombay, starring Aravind Swamy and Manisha Koirala. It’s a tested formula: the world over, from Chittorgarh, where Dev Anand shot Guide, to Interlaken, where DDLJ was shot, tourist guides have relied on cinema to sell destinations.
Addressing an event at the Pennsylvania Convention Centre in Philadelphia, former Chief Justice of India NV Ramana expressed concern over the deep-rooted caste system in the diaspora. He said, “When caste differences have blurred in India, particularly in the southern part of the country, it is a matter of grave concern that the caste system is prevalent among Indians in the US.”
The Supreme Court has stayed the appointment of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi as the head of a high-level committee on Yamuna river pollution by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The court issued its ruling after the Delhi government, through its counsel AM Singhvi, noted that even a governor, let alone an LG, cannot be made chief of such a committee. Instead, Singhvi said, a domain expert should head such a panel, Livelaw reports.
The apex court refused to hear urgently a plea against the order of the Allahabad High Court summoning the director, producer and dialogue writer of Adipurush to appear. The HC had also directed the Union government to re-examine the film’s certification.
Himachal Pradesh, reeling under incessant rainfall since June 24, has suffered over 41 landslides, 29 flash floods, and a cloudburst in less than a month. Terrible weather has claimed at least 80 lives, raising concerns that these disasters could be the result of human activities in the fragile Himalayan region. Experts told The Hindu that the government agencies and policymakers should focus on prevention rather than management in the Himalayan mountain environment.
In Gujarat, a man was arrested for robbing 150 kg of tomatoes, brinjal and garlic from the vegetable market in Surat. Seeing an opportunity in runaway food inflation, he has been stealing expensive vegetables and selling them to a broker for Rs 40 per kg.
Al Jazeera reports that Bank of Baroda, India’s second-biggest state-owned bank, imposed unrealistic targets on employees to get customers to use an app. They did an illegal workaround, linking random phone numbers to customer accounts, compromising their security.
How a lethal weapon was shamelessly sharpened: the persistence of a bad memory called Sanjay Mishra, chief of the Enforcement Directorate: