Telangana HC Shifts Probe Into BJP’s Alleged Poaching of MLAs to CBI; Why Arbitrary Device Seizures Will Turn Corporate Investors Off India
Govt has no plan to increase retirement age of judges, ‘sahibzade shahadat’ vs ‘veer bal’ day, Bharat Jodo Yatra in Delhi, BJP survey for Mumbai local polls brings grim tidings, five star jail food
A newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, Sushant Singh and Tanweer Alam | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
December 26, 2022
An ongoing probe into the BJP alleged attempts to engineer the defection of legislators in Telangana by offering bribes as large as Rs 100 crore has been taken out of the hands of the Telangana police and handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation by the Telangana High Court. The police filed audio and video recordings, and lakhs of incriminating WhatsApp messages recovered from the phones of the three suspects, in court and said this constituted evidence that the men they had arrested were working on behalf of top BJP leaders. The suspects moved the court, accusing the Telangana investigators of bias. They expressed their faith in a probe by the CBI, which of course is controlled by the BJP-led Union government. The Telangana government intends to appeal the order.
Four months after eight former Indian naval officers were placed under solitary confinement in Doha, their petitions for bail will come up for hearing today. This is their fifth attempt at securing bail. The officers were working for Dahra Global Technologies & Consultancy Services in Doha when they were picked up by Qatar’s interior ministry. No charges have been framed against them yet.
Non-tariff issues such as carbon emission norms, climate action, labour and gender balance standards, that comprise an increasingly substantive part of these new pacts, are weighing heavily on India’s ongoing negotiations on free trade agreements. Policymakers in New Delhi have flagged concerns these issues could pose hurdles for India in reaping the gains of its comparative labour advantage, with officials of the view that these incremental issues need to be dealt with “cautiously” in the ongoing FTA negotiations with the UK, the European Union, as well as the India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement (CECA).
“Religion itself has become more intolerant after the hollowing out of what the historian David Hollinger describes as its liberal ‘ecumenical’ heritage. Religious traditions practising tolerance are being supplanted by secularism or by more intolerant strains. One example is in India: while the proportion of practising Hindus has declined only moderately since Independence, by 4%, Hindu nationalism has become more potent. Nearly two-thirds of Hindus say one must be Hindu to be ‘truly’ Indian,” says a Financial Times editorial.
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“China and India maintain communication through diplomatic and military channels and are committed to maintaining a stable border situation between the two countries,” Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said in Beijing, while delivering a speech on China’s diplomacy in 2022 at a symposium. “We are willing to work with India to promote the stable and healthy development of China-India relations,” he said. The statement is belied by the rise in frequency of standoffs on the boundary, most recently near Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
The 17th round of talks on eastern Ladakh between senior military commanders of China and India last Tuesday failed as the Chinese side was adamant on its previous stance. The Hindustan Times reports that when the Indian side demanded the restoration of patrolling rights in Depsang Plains and the Charding Ninglung Nullah area at the border meeting, the Chinese side stuck to its position of doing nothing by claiming that the situation was normal. The Chinese commander talked about normalisation of the border areas, while the Indian side talked about de-escalation in areas where disengagement had taken place in eastern Ladakh.
India’s economic growth is expected to drop to 6.1% in FY24 from the estimated 6.8% for the current fiscal because of high oil prices, weaker external demand and tighter financial conditions, says IMF report released on Friday. It expects inflation to ease gradually over the next two years, but a more contagious coronavirus variant could impact trade and growth. It estimated India’s potential growth at 6% over the medium term.
WHO and a Gambian parliamentary panel have reaffirmed that cough syrups imported from India and linked to deaths of Gambian children were contaminated with toxic chemicals, days after India’s Health Ministry said samples from the exporter were OK. Laboratories in Ghana and Switzerland have confirmed that syrups made by Maiden Pharmaceuticals in Haryana had unacceptably high levels of diethylene glycol (DEG) and ethylene glycol (EG). They can cause life-threatening kidney damage. These contaminants “are dangerous and should not be in any medicine ever”, a WHO spokesperson has said. The WHO spokesperson was responding to a query on assertions by India’s drug regulator that neither the WHO nor the Gambian authorities had actually linked the syrups to the deaths. Experts say the Indian government is trying to shift the focus from contamination to the absence of evidence linking it to the death of children.
Lung cancer jumped up by 5% over the last two years, the Union government has said.
Increasing the retirement age of Supreme Court and High Court judges could extend the years of service of non-performing judges and might have a cascading effect with government employees raising a similar demand, the Department of Justice told a parliamentary panel. In July, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju had informed Parliament that there is no proposal to increase the retirement age in the upper judiciary.
The Supreme Court-monitored NRC exercise in Assam has been something the BJP has done a volte face on and found fault with. Now, the CAG also happens to have issues with the exercise. In a report submitted to the Assam Assembly on December 24, the CAG said 215 software utilities were added in a haphazard manner to the core software used for the updating exercise due to the lack of proper planning. Also, it has found that the amount of wages paid to the outsourced staff was 46-64% less than the rate approved by the NRC coordination committee. It has consequently sought penal measures against Wipro Limited, contracted to execute parts of the NRC updation, for violation of the Minimum Wages Act.
The Opposition created an uproar on Saturday when the state government told the Assam Assembly that 30 people were killed in police actions in 26 incidents in the state from January last year. Last month, the government had told the Gauhati HC in an affidavit that there were 171 incidents of police firing from May last year to August this year in which 56 people were killed and 145 injured. The Opposition is livid that the government shared conflicting figures at two different forums. Delhi-based lawyer Arif Jwadder, who had earlier filed a PIL in the court, expressed surprise as most of the injured were criminals who were shot at for attempting to escape from police custody.
A 24-year-old was allegedly gunned down by a BSF constable in Cooch Behar district near the India-Bangladesh border on Saturday morning, rekindling charges that the BSF is high-handed in border villages. Central forces claim he was a smuggler but the family say that Prem Kumar Barman of Bharbandha village of Dinhata subdivision was a migrant worker with no connection with smuggling.
Less than a year after four of a family from Gujarat froze to death while trying to cross the border from Canada to the US, Brijesh Kumar Yadav, from the same area in Gujarat, is reported to have fallen to his death while attempting to climb the wall at the US-Mexico border, on December 14. Family in Gandhinagar told the police that they were informed on December 17 that Yadav had died due to a “heart attack”. The Gujarat Police have launched a probe.
The surviving members on a boat adrift, that the UN sought help for from nations in South Asia, have finally landed in Indonesia. 58 weak Rohingya were able to reach an Indonesian beach after weeks at sea. They were in Andaman (Indian) waters for a considerable period of time.
Radhika and Prannoy Roy, founders of New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV), agreed to sell 27.26% of the company to the Adani Group despite initially opposing the takeover, giving Adani majority control. The departure of the Roys marks an important change in India media, especially since it was done amicably (they will retain 5% of NDTV).
Google on Friday said it has approached the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), challenging the Competition Commission of India (CCI) order on unfair business practices in Android. The CCI in October slapped a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore on Google for abusing its dominant position in multiple markets in relation through Android and ordered the internet major to cease and desist from unfair business practices. “We have decided to appeal the CCI’s decision on Android as we believe it presents a major setback for our Indian users and businesses who trust Android’s security features, and potentially raises the cost of mobile devices,” a Google spokesperson said.
Senior RJD leader and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s confidant Abdul Bari Siddiqui has said that he suggested to his children that they move abroad since the “atmosphere” in India is not conducive. It triggered a debate, which he says was his intention. “You can understand with how much pain a man tells his children to leave their motherland. But such a time has come,” Siddiqui says in a video clip. On Friday Siddiqui, 69, a former Bihar finance minister whose wife and son-in-law are Hindus, told The Telegraph: “If I have touched a raw nerve, I have succeeded. There should be a debate.” His son studies at Harvard University and his daughter graduated from the London School of Economics.
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Harjinder Singh Dhami has asked the Sikh community to observe the martyrdom day of the sons of Guru Gobind Singh as ‘Sahibzade Shahadat Diwas’ instead of ‘Veer Bal Diwas’ today. “Observing the martyrdom day of ‘Sahibzadas’ as Veer Bal Diwas by the government is a mischievous conspiracy to undermine the greatest martyrdom ... in the world’s religious history,” Dhami said. PM Modi today spoke at an event to mark ‘Veer Bal Diwas’; “A country that has such history should be filled with confidence but unfortunately, in the name of history we were taught only certain narratives which leads to an inferiority complex,” he said.
A Mathura court has ordered an official survey of the Shahi Idgah complex, for a case which will be heard next on January 20. The order is in response to the petition of Hindu Sena president Vishnu Gupta, and its vice president Surjit Singh Yadav. The petitioners claimed ownership of the entire 13.37 acres of land. They have also challenged the 1968 agreement between the Shahi Idgah Mosque Committee and the Shrikrishna Janmabhoomi Trust allowing the mosque to remain on the land on which it was situated.
To improve pass percentages of schools, the Haryana government has called for announcements by temples, mosques and gurdwaras to wake up students of classes 10 and 12 early to prepare for their board exams due in March 2023. The state education department has also asked school authorities to ask parents to wake their wards at 4.30 am.
Bulandshahr prison in UP has been awarded a five-star rating and the tag ‘Eat Right Campus’ by the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI). The FSSAI team inspected the kitchen’s food quality, storage and hygiene. This is the second jail to get this rating after Farrukhabad Jail in UP.
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