Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

HC reserves order on JNU students’ pleas

- Press Trust of India letters@hindustant­imes.com


NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Tuesday reserved order on bail pleas of JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, arrested in connection with the communal riots in north-east Delhi last year.

A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani heard the arguments on behalf of counsel for Narwal and Kalita and reserved its order on the bail petitions.

Advocate Adit S Pujari, appearing for the two students, had argued before the bench that the investigat­ion in the case was “tainted”.

Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Amit Mahajan, representi­ng Delhi Police, had opposed the pleas and claimed that Narwal and Kalita were well aware of the acts being carried out during the riots and that it would lead to consequenc­es which could be disastrous.

Police had contended that they were part of a larger conspiracy to threaten the unity, integrity and harmony of the country. Narwal and Kalita had filed their appeals challengin­g a trial court’s order dismissing their bail pleas in a Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case related to the riots.

Narwal and Kalita, who are also members of Pinjra Tod (break the cage) group, were arrested last year in May in connection with the communal riots in north-east Delhi and are in judicial custody.

They were arrested by the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police and booked under various sections of the IPC including rioting, unlawful assembly and attempt to murder.

Rao and S Ravindra Bhat.

These observatio­ns assume significan­ce as some lawyers had criticised the apex court last Thursday for taking suo motu cognisance of the pandemic’s resurgence and issues by saying that high courts be allowed to continue with hearings.

A day later on April 23, a bench headed by the then chief justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, who has since retired, took a very strong exception to “unfair” criticism by some lawyers for “something which was not part of its order” in the suo motu case related to framing of national policy on the Covid-19 pandemic and said “this is how institutio­n is being destroyed”.

The bench on Tuesday also took note of the submission­s of lawyers, including senior advocate Vikas Singh, on differenti­al pricing of Covid-19 vaccines and asked the Centre to apprise it of the “rationale and basis” behind such pricing.

On the government’s decision to vaccinate all citizens above 18 years, the court sought replies from states by Thursday as to how they intend to cope with the surge in vaccine demand and the infrastruc­ture required for that.

The bench also asked the Centre to apprise the top court of the modalities on distributi­on of oxygen as well as the vaccines to states and the monitoring mechanism.

In the hearing, conducted via video conferenci­ng, the top court also appointed senior counsel Jaideep Gupta and Meenakshi Arora as amicus curiae to assist it in the Covid-19 management case as Harish Salve had sought recusal following some controvers­ial remarks by some lawyers.

Last Thursday, the bench took note of the pandemic situation due to sudden surge in Covid-19 cases as also in mortality, and said it expected the Centre to come out with a “national plan” to deal with distributi­on of essential services and supplies, including oxygen and drugs.

Observing that oxygen to patients infected with the virus is said to be an “essential part” of treatment, the top court had said it seemed that a certain amount of “panic” has been generated due to which people have approached several high courts seeking relief.

Prior to this, the bench had rapped some lawyers for their unfair criticism that the apex court was intending to transfer to itself the cases from high courts saying that no such order was passed.

It had also lamented imputation of motive by some senior bar members while allowing senior advocate Salve to withdraw as an amicus curiae from the case after he had said that he did not want it to be decided under the shadow that he was friends with justice Bobde from “school and college days”.

600%. India on Tuesday reported 323,144 new infections and 2,771 fatalities.

The lowest turnout--roughly 75.06%—so far was recorded in the seventh and the penultimat­e phase of elections in West Bengal amid surging Covid-19 infections in the state on Monday when it reported around 16,000 infections and 68 deaths.

Elections were also held in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry in March and April. The counting of votes there will take place along with that in West Bengal after the last phase of polling in the state on Thursday.

The campaignin­g for the West Bengal elections has ended. The EC earlier banned it at night, increased the silence period from 48 hours to 72 hours, and limited election rallies to 500 people after the Calcutta high court last week expressed dissatisfa­ction over measures taken to enforce Covid-19 norms during the polls.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Jagat Prakash Nadda welcomed the EC order banning victory procession­s. “I have directed all state units of BJP to strictly adhere to this decision. All karykartas [workers] of BJP are using their energies to help the ones in need in this hour of crisis,” Nadda said in a tweet.

Jagdeep Chhokar of the Associatio­n of Democratic Reforms said that EC’S move came far too late and would achieve very little. “The Commission should have ensured that the protocols were followed far more sternly,” he said. “The EC has lost its credibilit­y, which will take a long time to recover.”

The Madras high court on Monday warned it could even stall the counting of votes unless the EC produced a Covid-19 protocol blueprint for it on April 30. The court said at no cost can counting be allowed to become a catalyst for a further surge. It toned down its observatio­ns as the reference to murder charges was not part of the written order. The court said public health is of paramount importance. “It is only when a citizen survives that he’ll be able to enjoy the rights that a democratic republic guarantees.”

The court noted that face masks, sanitisers were not used, and no social distancing was maintained during election campaignin­g.

the UP hospital to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, citing his medical conditions and ill-treatment.

However, Mehta told the bench, which also included justices Surya Kant and AS Bopanna, that this plea could not be entertaine­d since the habeas corpus petition by KUWJ was itself not maintainab­le. “This person has been in jail after a valid order of a trial court. All his co-accused approached the trial court for a regular bail but here we have one organisati­on asking for his release. An order of detention by a magistrate cannot be said to be illegal,” said Mehta.

The hearing could not proceed because of technical snags in the video-conferenci­ng facility of the top court and the matter was adjourned to Wednesday. The bench has also asked the state government to file Kappan’s medical report.

In its affidavit before the court in December, the UP government sought to highlight Kappan’s alleged associatio­n with the now-banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the Popular Front of India, besides discrediti­ng KUWJ. It maintained that Kappan was not a journalist nor was KUWJ a credible organisati­on while citing the former’s alleged links with the (SIMI) and PFI. The latter is not a banned outfit under the law. The affidavit contended that the Union filed its petition at the behest of SIMI and the PFI.

lessely. The BCCI is monitoring the situation very closely and is working with the government authoritie­s to make arrangemen­ts to get you home once the tournament concludes.

“Be rest assured that the tournament is not over for BCCI till each one of you has reached your home, safe and sound,” he added.

Mumbai Indians’ Australian batsman Chris Lynn hoped that Cricket Australia would arrange a chartered flight for those who have stayed back after CA checked on their travel plans.

“I texted back that as Cricket Australia make 10% of every IPL contract was there a chance we could spend that money this year on a charter flight once the tournament is over?” Lynn told News Corp media.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison ruled out any government assistance and said that those in the IPL will have to make their own arrangemen­ts for return.

“They have travelled there privately. This wasn’t part of an Australian tour. They’re under their own resources and they’ll be using those resources too, I’m sure, to see them return to Australia in accordance with their own arrangemen­ts,” Morrison was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

India has been reporting over 300,000 daily cases and more than 2,000 daily deaths. Add to this, a crumbling health infrastruc­ture that is also battling a shortage of oxygen and some crucial medicines.

The crisis outside the IPL’S bio-bubble has led to some talk about whether it is appropriat­e for the league to go on and whether its organisers and participat­ing players should be doing more to express empathy.

On Monday, Kolkata Knight Riders’ ₹15 crore buy, Australian pacer Pat Cummins, donated $50,000 to the Indian government, hoping that it would inspire more to contribute. Amin lauded the players for carrying on and giving some joy amid the gloom.

“When you all walk out onto the field, you are bringing hope to millions of people who have tuned in,” he said.”while you are profession­als and will play to win, this time you are also playing for something much more important,” he ‘added.

As of now, the IPL still has 14 Australian players, including big names like Steve Smith (Delhi Capitals), David Warner (Sunrisers Hyderabad) and Cummins. Ricky Ponting (DC) and Simon Katich (Royal Challenger­s Bangalore) are among the high-profile Australian coaches, while iconic former players such as Matthew Hayden, Brett Lee and Lisa Sthalekar are part of the tournament’s commentary team.

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