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Bengal Redux: BJP’s Revenge Card Boomerangs

A cynical and divisive campaign that the Modi-Shah spin masters lost is now unfurling into a vendetta driven C-grade horror movie in Bengal

03 Jun 2021

Image Courtesy:economictimes.indiatimes.com

Since May 2, when the BJP lost Bengal despite all its hyperbole, led by its two unilateral supremos from Gujarat, it’s like a silly C-Grade horror movie being enacted day after day with its poor script missing the wood from the trees. Even for their fanatic fans, indeed, this is truly a lousy movie, and it gets more depressing and predictable by the day.                                                                         

The great secular, pluralist, egalitarian and democratic victory on May 2 – the whole of Bengal celebrated quietly, discreetly, with dignity, and peacefully. Even while a certain kind of inevitable and localised violence across groups flared up, and only in some areas, some of them unidentified, some identified. A certain infamous ‘IT cell’ predictably circulated fake and old videos from different geographical locations, trying to sell the propaganda that Muslims were targeting Hindus in Bengal. There were diabolical WhatsApp campaigns of fake Hindu exodus in some areas, as if a reverse partition has re-visited contemporary post-poll Bengal. This was a low, nasty and dirty game played abjectly and brazenly, and exposed soon after, as abjectly and brazenly.

This sinister project was proved for what it was in a few hours, even while the other mournful narrative became apparent that they just cannot digest their defeat in Bengal and the huge victory of the Trinamool Congress. A peaceful transition to power of a duly elected government was seemingly not acceptable to them.

Mamata Banerjee was blamed for the violence even while it was still the Election Commission which called the shots in Bengal, and the central forces were still out there in full force soon after May 2. There was an orchestrated, high-decibel campaign from Delhi, oh, look at Bengal, oh, look at the violence, etc. Even a central team was dispatched. Inevitably, and predictably, the Governor joined in.

Nothing worked out. It all turned out to be fake. A sinister project which was bound to fail in a state which peacefully voted secular across the caste and class spectrum, across the rural and urban spectrum, especially women, especially women in rural Bengal. Besides, the entire city of Calcutta defeated the BJP, and Trinamool won from all kinds of unexpected places in vastly different geographical and demographic terrains.

Mamata Banerjee took over as chief minister for her third term in a simple Covid-appropriate ceremony, and declared the Covid crisis as her principle priority. She said no violence will be allowed henceforth, whosoever may be involved, and distributed compensation to the families of the victims, with no bias towards any particular political group. Since then, no such political violence has happened in Bengal, and no such violence has been allowed to happen by the state government. All this happened as lockdown was declared, the entire machinery geared up to fight the second surge of the Covid 19 virus and to help all the people cope during the lockdown with ration and food at their doorstep. The focus has been the daily-wagers and working class and all this went hand in hand with pr-emptive evacuation and other measures in preparation for Cyclone Yaas, which was looming over the horizon in the Bay of Bengal, and which had a fierce, deadly, landfall on May 26.

It was a huge victory in the face of yet another massive and over-funded, cynically orchestrated campaign which started in early 2021. The campaign line ran: the BJP would conquer Bengal this time, come what may! Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now sporting a huge white beard – for alleged reasons of ‘image management’, according to hardcore cynics. Not Tamil Nadu or Kerala, not even Assam, the PM and his home minister, Amit Shah, along with the entire RSS-Sangh Parivar hydra-headed organism, wanted Bengal – and only Bengal, at any cost.

That they lost their sweetest dream of all appears to have brought on the onset of recurrent insomnia in bad faith and ritualistic bitterness. Both reactions are in bad taste. These have been manifest in brazenly vengeful actions, often defying basic political wisdom or diplomatic finesse, all becoming ugly public spectacles with the entire country bearing witness. These have also broken both historic protocol and convention, which determine smooth and efficient relations between the states and Centre, a constitutional pre-requisite that outlines the “union of states” in a federal paradigm.

Since then, two senior ministers and two senior leaders of Trinamool have been arrested by the CBI on charges involving an old sting operation, even while two top Trinamool turncoats, now in the BJP, who also face the same charges, appear completely untouched by the drama. Law enforcement and especially CBI (that reports directly to the PMO) have ensured that they have nothing to worry about at all. This stark contest too, is brazen.

The target was and is transparently clear and there was nothing to hide – to unnerve, punish and harass the new government led by Mamata Banerjee. The C-Grade horror movie has continued with its unhinged and morbid narrative.

And, now, the chief minister’s chief secretary, the senior-most bureaucrat in the state, who is handling the serious issues of both the Covid crisis and the post-cyclone disaster management, has been under the Centre’s radar. While he is on the verge of retirement. Yet again, to push the chief minster to the wall!

Has this succeeded?

No.

So what happened?

The chief minister has emerged stronger. She has acquired, yet again, national stature of great defiance and stoic courage. She remains, even more so, both a mass leader and street-fighter, greatly admired for her guts all over Bengal. She has yet again taken on the revengeful establishment in Delhi with a lucid and consistent determination not witnessed in recent times in contemporary politics in India.

Bengal has yet again seen through this badly played screenplay and theatre of the absurd. And once again the entire state is totally aligned behind its brave and resilient chief minister who has, for the umpteenth time, has openly defied the Centre led by Modi and Amit Shah.  Interestingly, Mamata Banerjee brought in two hated figures from the history of fascism and Soviet Russia in her acerbic rejoinder: “PM, Amit Shah, are behaving like autocrats such as Hitler, Stalin,” she was quoted in The Telegraph online.

Bengal will not crawl. This is the message which has spread across the pandemic and lockdown landscape. Bengal never crawls. Bengal will write a new narrative of defiance. Bengal will re-write the writing on the wall. 

Bengal had earlier taken the landslide victory of secular forces with discrete dignity, an understated and inward joy, and a quiet personal and collective celebration indoors, assured that the cultural, political and intellectual inheritance of the state will not henceforth be destroyed at the hands of polarising and communal forces who are out to capture it with sheer money and muscle power, propaganda and fake news dispensed by a supplicant media, organised mind games, and a lot of pomp and show, even while there was clearly no Hindutva wave on the ground from day one. Indeed, the BJP campaign had started much earlier, even while their ‘poriborton yatras’ flopped across the state, and rally after rally, with their top leaders exported from Delhi, Gujarat and UP,  including the big one at Brigade Ground  in Kolkata with Modi as star, turned out ---all of them--to be a super flops.

Somehow, despite the ambiguity and people holding their cards close to their hearts, there was an uncanny feeling that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ was just not clicking in a land where people worship Durga and Kali, among others -- their goddesses with infinite passion, devotion and commitment, and where the inherited secular, spiritual, revolutionary and cultural legacy of Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Subhas Chandra Bose, Ramkrishna Paramhans, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Master Surya Sen, Khudiram Bose, among others, still ruled supreme in the deepest core of the  Bengali consciousness.

This was best exemplified in the urban terrain with the huge success of the ‘No Vote to BJP’ campaign, rather, ‘Not one vote to BJP’, combined with videos made by independent filmmakers caricaturing their BJP drew lakhs of hits. At the fag end of the campaign, singer Kabir Suman came out with short, stimulating videos with the same message: ‘BJP ke ektao vote deben na’ --- don’t give even one vote to BJP. Defeat the fascists, he sang.

This was followed by actors, artists, singers and celebrities of Bengal sticking their neck out fearlessly yet again: coming out with a fabulous video song and dramatic enactment, reaffirming the pluralist and secular ethos of Bengal, implying yet again that Battleground Bengal, this time, was a life and death question. 

Besides, women, across the spectrum, especially in rural Bengal, voted overwhelmingly for Didi. There was a social engineering dimension where people across the spectrum, in rural and urban areas, across caste and religion, and within those in the margins, including vast number of women across the kaleidoscope, came out and voted for Didi and her party. Behind this overwhelming support was not only the secular plank, or the fact that the social welfare schemes for people, especially girls and women, like Kanyashree for the education of girls, cycles for women, health insurance of Rs 5 lakh for women, free ration and food all through the lockdown – and now at the doorstep, free, subsidised and high quality public health care including public sector hospitals, hostels for girls in small towns and colleges, roads and infrastructure, among other schemes, had endeared the people to Didi’s government.

Most crucially, the people of Bengal just did not like the manner in which the two men from Gujarat, one, the prime minister, and the other, the union home minister, literally parked themselves in Bengal for months, hopping in and out of the state on expensive helicopters, targeting Mamata Banerjee, a woman leader, day in, day out. This was added to by Yogi Adityanath spreading his own brand of hate politics in a peaceful state where no such pronounced hate exists among communities, despite simmering tensions from the past.

This was like the entire State machinery from Delhi with its huge money and muscle power was out to capture Bengal at any cost, and reduce the only woman chief minister in India into a daily object of ridicule and hate. Their spin masters and pseudo psephologists spun a tale very early, even before the campaign had begun, that anti-incumbency, corruption and a massive, hidden, subaltern uprising would decisively swing the elections and “BJP will sweep the polls”. This was pure figment of imagination and a mind-game propaganda, and proved as bogus from day one. Seasoned journalists were quick to notice this on the ground quite early in the campaign.

Indeed, the macho taunt by the PM, ‘Didi Oooooo Didi’, was a blunder, for which the BJP paid a heavy price. Not only women, the whole of Bengal felt disgusted and angry at this ‘PMspeak’, and the disgust was surely expressed in the ballot box across the state.

Besides, the Election Commission added to the nightmare of the lurking Covid, while the PM praised the huge crowds in the last phase in Bengal – in the backdrop of the Kumbh with millions gathered welcomed by Modi and the BJP-led Uttarakhand government. Even while other states folded up their election scenario quickly, as in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Pondicherry, the Bengal polls dragged on for a dreary long month in the heat and amidst the pandemic, precisely because, as Trinamool leaders and critics pointed out, to help the BJP spread its campaign and stretch its formidable machinery and leaders from outside, especially because they lacked a cadre or a party machinery on the ground. Besides, the BJP seemed to be bursting at its seams with leaders hijacked or usurped from other parties – so much so, the ‘original’ BJP leaders and cadre seemed to be suffering from serious heartburn and alienation.

Indeed, whatever the BJP wanted was accepted by the EC, the Trinamool complained, even while the Trinamool’s requests were turned down repeatedly. For instance, without an all-party meeting, the EC accepted something unprecedented, a BJP demand – booth agents from outside the local area were allowed.  Trinamool immediately pointed out that the BJP did not have their own local booth agents and that is why this new and biased twist in the tale – hence they might get ‘outsiders’ to become booth agents, breaking a tradition established since long. More so, the Trinamool request to club the last phase of the polls in one phase, due to the second surge in Covid, was turned down by the EC.

It’s been just about one month since the new government has taken over in Kolkata. But the harassment is relentless and continuous. However, the main thing is that every time the Centre plays a revengeful card in Bengal, it only proves how it’s still not able to accept a legitimate electoral victory.

Besides, such a card often badly boomerangs. As in this case of the chief secretary, with Mamata Banerjee now riding high on yet another popularity wave in Bengal. And it seems, it’s a wave which will only fly on the wings of more victories in the days to come.

(Part One, to be Concluded)

Related:

Battleground Bengal: It’s Indian democracy at stake!
Battleground Bengal: Manipulation of votes and EVMs will not be allowed, Mamata declares war on BJP
Battleground Bengal: Is BJP's Poriborton Yatra failing to take off?

 

Bengal Redux: BJP’s Revenge Card Boomerangs

A cynical and divisive campaign that the Modi-Shah spin masters lost is now unfurling into a vendetta driven C-grade horror movie in Bengal

Image Courtesy:economictimes.indiatimes.com

Since May 2, when the BJP lost Bengal despite all its hyperbole, led by its two unilateral supremos from Gujarat, it’s like a silly C-Grade horror movie being enacted day after day with its poor script missing the wood from the trees. Even for their fanatic fans, indeed, this is truly a lousy movie, and it gets more depressing and predictable by the day.                                                                         

The great secular, pluralist, egalitarian and democratic victory on May 2 – the whole of Bengal celebrated quietly, discreetly, with dignity, and peacefully. Even while a certain kind of inevitable and localised violence across groups flared up, and only in some areas, some of them unidentified, some identified. A certain infamous ‘IT cell’ predictably circulated fake and old videos from different geographical locations, trying to sell the propaganda that Muslims were targeting Hindus in Bengal. There were diabolical WhatsApp campaigns of fake Hindu exodus in some areas, as if a reverse partition has re-visited contemporary post-poll Bengal. This was a low, nasty and dirty game played abjectly and brazenly, and exposed soon after, as abjectly and brazenly.

This sinister project was proved for what it was in a few hours, even while the other mournful narrative became apparent that they just cannot digest their defeat in Bengal and the huge victory of the Trinamool Congress. A peaceful transition to power of a duly elected government was seemingly not acceptable to them.

Mamata Banerjee was blamed for the violence even while it was still the Election Commission which called the shots in Bengal, and the central forces were still out there in full force soon after May 2. There was an orchestrated, high-decibel campaign from Delhi, oh, look at Bengal, oh, look at the violence, etc. Even a central team was dispatched. Inevitably, and predictably, the Governor joined in.

Nothing worked out. It all turned out to be fake. A sinister project which was bound to fail in a state which peacefully voted secular across the caste and class spectrum, across the rural and urban spectrum, especially women, especially women in rural Bengal. Besides, the entire city of Calcutta defeated the BJP, and Trinamool won from all kinds of unexpected places in vastly different geographical and demographic terrains.

Mamata Banerjee took over as chief minister for her third term in a simple Covid-appropriate ceremony, and declared the Covid crisis as her principle priority. She said no violence will be allowed henceforth, whosoever may be involved, and distributed compensation to the families of the victims, with no bias towards any particular political group. Since then, no such political violence has happened in Bengal, and no such violence has been allowed to happen by the state government. All this happened as lockdown was declared, the entire machinery geared up to fight the second surge of the Covid 19 virus and to help all the people cope during the lockdown with ration and food at their doorstep. The focus has been the daily-wagers and working class and all this went hand in hand with pr-emptive evacuation and other measures in preparation for Cyclone Yaas, which was looming over the horizon in the Bay of Bengal, and which had a fierce, deadly, landfall on May 26.

It was a huge victory in the face of yet another massive and over-funded, cynically orchestrated campaign which started in early 2021. The campaign line ran: the BJP would conquer Bengal this time, come what may! Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now sporting a huge white beard – for alleged reasons of ‘image management’, according to hardcore cynics. Not Tamil Nadu or Kerala, not even Assam, the PM and his home minister, Amit Shah, along with the entire RSS-Sangh Parivar hydra-headed organism, wanted Bengal – and only Bengal, at any cost.

That they lost their sweetest dream of all appears to have brought on the onset of recurrent insomnia in bad faith and ritualistic bitterness. Both reactions are in bad taste. These have been manifest in brazenly vengeful actions, often defying basic political wisdom or diplomatic finesse, all becoming ugly public spectacles with the entire country bearing witness. These have also broken both historic protocol and convention, which determine smooth and efficient relations between the states and Centre, a constitutional pre-requisite that outlines the “union of states” in a federal paradigm.

Since then, two senior ministers and two senior leaders of Trinamool have been arrested by the CBI on charges involving an old sting operation, even while two top Trinamool turncoats, now in the BJP, who also face the same charges, appear completely untouched by the drama. Law enforcement and especially CBI (that reports directly to the PMO) have ensured that they have nothing to worry about at all. This stark contest too, is brazen.

The target was and is transparently clear and there was nothing to hide – to unnerve, punish and harass the new government led by Mamata Banerjee. The C-Grade horror movie has continued with its unhinged and morbid narrative.

And, now, the chief minister’s chief secretary, the senior-most bureaucrat in the state, who is handling the serious issues of both the Covid crisis and the post-cyclone disaster management, has been under the Centre’s radar. While he is on the verge of retirement. Yet again, to push the chief minster to the wall!

Has this succeeded?

No.

So what happened?

The chief minister has emerged stronger. She has acquired, yet again, national stature of great defiance and stoic courage. She remains, even more so, both a mass leader and street-fighter, greatly admired for her guts all over Bengal. She has yet again taken on the revengeful establishment in Delhi with a lucid and consistent determination not witnessed in recent times in contemporary politics in India.

Bengal has yet again seen through this badly played screenplay and theatre of the absurd. And once again the entire state is totally aligned behind its brave and resilient chief minister who has, for the umpteenth time, has openly defied the Centre led by Modi and Amit Shah.  Interestingly, Mamata Banerjee brought in two hated figures from the history of fascism and Soviet Russia in her acerbic rejoinder: “PM, Amit Shah, are behaving like autocrats such as Hitler, Stalin,” she was quoted in The Telegraph online.

Bengal will not crawl. This is the message which has spread across the pandemic and lockdown landscape. Bengal never crawls. Bengal will write a new narrative of defiance. Bengal will re-write the writing on the wall. 

Bengal had earlier taken the landslide victory of secular forces with discrete dignity, an understated and inward joy, and a quiet personal and collective celebration indoors, assured that the cultural, political and intellectual inheritance of the state will not henceforth be destroyed at the hands of polarising and communal forces who are out to capture it with sheer money and muscle power, propaganda and fake news dispensed by a supplicant media, organised mind games, and a lot of pomp and show, even while there was clearly no Hindutva wave on the ground from day one. Indeed, the BJP campaign had started much earlier, even while their ‘poriborton yatras’ flopped across the state, and rally after rally, with their top leaders exported from Delhi, Gujarat and UP,  including the big one at Brigade Ground  in Kolkata with Modi as star, turned out ---all of them--to be a super flops.

Somehow, despite the ambiguity and people holding their cards close to their hearts, there was an uncanny feeling that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ was just not clicking in a land where people worship Durga and Kali, among others -- their goddesses with infinite passion, devotion and commitment, and where the inherited secular, spiritual, revolutionary and cultural legacy of Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Subhas Chandra Bose, Ramkrishna Paramhans, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Master Surya Sen, Khudiram Bose, among others, still ruled supreme in the deepest core of the  Bengali consciousness.

This was best exemplified in the urban terrain with the huge success of the ‘No Vote to BJP’ campaign, rather, ‘Not one vote to BJP’, combined with videos made by independent filmmakers caricaturing their BJP drew lakhs of hits. At the fag end of the campaign, singer Kabir Suman came out with short, stimulating videos with the same message: ‘BJP ke ektao vote deben na’ --- don’t give even one vote to BJP. Defeat the fascists, he sang.

This was followed by actors, artists, singers and celebrities of Bengal sticking their neck out fearlessly yet again: coming out with a fabulous video song and dramatic enactment, reaffirming the pluralist and secular ethos of Bengal, implying yet again that Battleground Bengal, this time, was a life and death question. 

Besides, women, across the spectrum, especially in rural Bengal, voted overwhelmingly for Didi. There was a social engineering dimension where people across the spectrum, in rural and urban areas, across caste and religion, and within those in the margins, including vast number of women across the kaleidoscope, came out and voted for Didi and her party. Behind this overwhelming support was not only the secular plank, or the fact that the social welfare schemes for people, especially girls and women, like Kanyashree for the education of girls, cycles for women, health insurance of Rs 5 lakh for women, free ration and food all through the lockdown – and now at the doorstep, free, subsidised and high quality public health care including public sector hospitals, hostels for girls in small towns and colleges, roads and infrastructure, among other schemes, had endeared the people to Didi’s government.

Most crucially, the people of Bengal just did not like the manner in which the two men from Gujarat, one, the prime minister, and the other, the union home minister, literally parked themselves in Bengal for months, hopping in and out of the state on expensive helicopters, targeting Mamata Banerjee, a woman leader, day in, day out. This was added to by Yogi Adityanath spreading his own brand of hate politics in a peaceful state where no such pronounced hate exists among communities, despite simmering tensions from the past.

This was like the entire State machinery from Delhi with its huge money and muscle power was out to capture Bengal at any cost, and reduce the only woman chief minister in India into a daily object of ridicule and hate. Their spin masters and pseudo psephologists spun a tale very early, even before the campaign had begun, that anti-incumbency, corruption and a massive, hidden, subaltern uprising would decisively swing the elections and “BJP will sweep the polls”. This was pure figment of imagination and a mind-game propaganda, and proved as bogus from day one. Seasoned journalists were quick to notice this on the ground quite early in the campaign.

Indeed, the macho taunt by the PM, ‘Didi Oooooo Didi’, was a blunder, for which the BJP paid a heavy price. Not only women, the whole of Bengal felt disgusted and angry at this ‘PMspeak’, and the disgust was surely expressed in the ballot box across the state.

Besides, the Election Commission added to the nightmare of the lurking Covid, while the PM praised the huge crowds in the last phase in Bengal – in the backdrop of the Kumbh with millions gathered welcomed by Modi and the BJP-led Uttarakhand government. Even while other states folded up their election scenario quickly, as in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Pondicherry, the Bengal polls dragged on for a dreary long month in the heat and amidst the pandemic, precisely because, as Trinamool leaders and critics pointed out, to help the BJP spread its campaign and stretch its formidable machinery and leaders from outside, especially because they lacked a cadre or a party machinery on the ground. Besides, the BJP seemed to be bursting at its seams with leaders hijacked or usurped from other parties – so much so, the ‘original’ BJP leaders and cadre seemed to be suffering from serious heartburn and alienation.

Indeed, whatever the BJP wanted was accepted by the EC, the Trinamool complained, even while the Trinamool’s requests were turned down repeatedly. For instance, without an all-party meeting, the EC accepted something unprecedented, a BJP demand – booth agents from outside the local area were allowed.  Trinamool immediately pointed out that the BJP did not have their own local booth agents and that is why this new and biased twist in the tale – hence they might get ‘outsiders’ to become booth agents, breaking a tradition established since long. More so, the Trinamool request to club the last phase of the polls in one phase, due to the second surge in Covid, was turned down by the EC.

It’s been just about one month since the new government has taken over in Kolkata. But the harassment is relentless and continuous. However, the main thing is that every time the Centre plays a revengeful card in Bengal, it only proves how it’s still not able to accept a legitimate electoral victory.

Besides, such a card often badly boomerangs. As in this case of the chief secretary, with Mamata Banerjee now riding high on yet another popularity wave in Bengal. And it seems, it’s a wave which will only fly on the wings of more victories in the days to come.

(Part One, to be Concluded)

Related:

Battleground Bengal: It’s Indian democracy at stake!
Battleground Bengal: Manipulation of votes and EVMs will not be allowed, Mamata declares war on BJP
Battleground Bengal: Is BJP's Poriborton Yatra failing to take off?

 

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NHRC chairmanship contender Justice Arun Mishra's legacy

High-powered recommendation committee has reportedly proposed Justice Mishra’s name to lead National Human Rights Commission

02 Jun 2021

Image Courtesy:theleaflet.in

The high-powered recommendation committee has proposed Justice Arun Mishra’s name to head the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). While a formal announcement is awaited The Hindu has today reported that it is likely that Justice Mishra who retired as a Supreme Court judge on September 2, 2020, will lead the top human rights body of the nation. The last chairperson, Justice HL Dattu retired in December 2020, the acting chairperson is Justice Prafulla Chandra Pant, a former Supreme Court judge.

Justice Arun Mishra’s name was proposed by a selection panel that included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Harivansh, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge.

According to news reports, senior Congress leader Kharge had recommended that the NHRC chief be a “representative from either a Dalit, Adivasi or a minority committee,” as many complaints of human rights violations come from these sections, and thus the Commission should have the appropriate representation. The other names that were discussed included former Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Mahesh Mittal Kumar and former Director of Intelligence Bureau, Rajiv Jain, stated news reports.

Justice Mishra’s legal career began in 1978 when he enrolled as a lawyer. He was elected youngest chairperson of Bar Council of India in 1998-99, and was appointed judge of Madhya Pradesh High Court in October 1999. He has served as Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court and Calcutta High Court as well and was elevated to the Supreme Court on July 7, 2014. His “tenure at the Supreme Court was marked by various controversies, prominent being the Judge Loya case and the Prashant Bhushan contempt of court case” commented the legal portal, Bar and Bench. 

After he retired last year as the second senior most judge at the Supreme Court, Justice Mishra’s legacy has been conservatively defined as a controversial one: he was the chosen Judge for hearing some high-profile matters despite being considered a more ‘junior’ but influential judge. In fact, as far as influence goes, in 2019, Justice Mishra’s brother, Vishal Mishra, an advocate in the Madhya Pradesh High Court, was made a judge of the High Court before he completed 45 years of age, which is the official minimum age for such an appointment under the draft memorandum of procedure (MOP) for judicial appointments.

Justice Mishra is known to have ruled in favour of the government and his presiding over the case of Justice Loya’s death seemed to have triggered a press conference in 2018 in the lawns of Justice Chelameswar’s residence protesting against sensitive matters being posted by Chief Justice Dipak Mishra before “one particular junior judge”.

According to an Indian Express report, the matter pertaining to Judge BH Loya’s death was assigned to a Bench presided over by Justice Mishra (by former CJI Dipak Mishra), ignoring nine other judges senior to him. Judge Loya, a special CBI judge, was hearing the case of the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife and others, that involved the present Home Minister of India as an accused. As Judge Loya’s sudden demise came as a shock, a petition was filed in the top court seeking a probe by an independent agency. Following the press conference, he felt obligated to recuse and this politically sensitive case was later heard by the then CJI, Dipak Misra, and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y.Chandrachud.

The case (W.P Civ. 19 of 2018), was then dismissed where the three-judge bench said, “There is no reason to disbelieve the sequence of events leading to the death as narrated by the four judicial officers namely Shrikant Kulkarni, Shriram Modak, R. Rathi and Vijay Kumar Barde and the assertions of Bombay High Court Justices Bhushan Gawai and Sunil Shukre”. It also slammed the petitioners by saying, “The conduct of the petitioners and the intervenors is, as we have indicated, lacking in bona fides and reveals a misuse of judicial process.” Justice B.R. Gavai went on to be elevated to the Supreme Court in 2019.

Here’s a look at some of his other controversial pronouncements at the Supreme Court:

  1. Indore Development Authority, the land acquisition case

In February, 2018, a three-judge bench presided over by Justice Arun Mishra in Indore Development Authority v Shailendra by a 2:1 split decision, set aside a 2014 decision in Pune Municipal Corporation v Harakchand Misirmal Solanki delivered by another three-judge Bench.

In the 2014 decision of Pune Municipal Corporation, the Supreme Court Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha, Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph had held that land acquisition could be declared void under section 24(2) of the Land Acquisition Act if monetary compensation had not been deposited in the bank accounts of the land owners or with the court. The judgment had agreed that money in the government treasury would not be treated as a form of payment to a landowner.

But in 2018, when Justice Mishra took up this case, he disagreed with the 2014 decision, and also went to the length of labelling it per incuriam, i.e., he held that the 2014 judgment was delivered through lack of due regard to the law or the facts. So, the Indore Development case held that paying money into the government treasury will be treated as payment for the land acquisition process even if the payment had not been made to the farmer.

Further, Justice Mishra also ruled that land acquisitions will not lapse just because a land owner refused to accept compensation within the prescribed 5 years. It held that in a scenario wherein compensation had been tendered, but the person refused to accept it, it would amount to discharge of obligation under section 31(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. 

This created a lot of confusion as most cases between 2014 and 2018 were settled following the Pune Municipal precedent and some cases were also pending. Post Indore Development Authority, a similar land acquisition matter came up before a three-judge bench on February 21, 2018 in Haryana v. GD Goenka Tourism Corporation, where Justices Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph (who sat on the Pune Municipal Corporation case) raised concerns.

This led to setting up of a constitution bench by the then CJI, Dipak Misra on February 26, 2018 to decide whether and if the 2018 coordinate bench of three judges (with one dissenting opinion) could have overruled the earlier decision of a unanimous three-judge bench in 2014. This judicial interpretation came after the controversial Judge had refused to recuse himself from hearing the case despite a convincing case being made for such a recusal. Ideally Justice Mishra should have recused himself from sitting on this Bench to reconsider a judgment delivered by him but he did not.

According to the judgment, Justice Arun Mishra decided not to recuse in the “interest of the judiciary and the system”. Finally, on March 4, 2020, the five-judge bench overturned Pune Municipal Corporation and held that land acquisition proceedings could not lapse merely due to a failure to pay compensation to landowners. It held that a lapse would only occur if the government failed to take physical possession of the land. J. Arun Mishra’s views were upheld.

  1. 100 Percent Tribal reservation case

In Chebrolu Leela Prasad Rao and Others v State of Andhra Pradesh (2020), he presided over a constitution bench of five judges, and quashed, in a unanimous judgment, a government order followed in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana that provided 100% reservation to Scheduled Tribe candidates out of whom 33.3% was reserved for women for the post of teachers in the schools in the scheduled areas in Andhra Pradesh.

It held that there was “no rhyme or reason” with the State Government to resort to 100% reservation. This judgment led to widespread protests amongst the tribal population that believed that the verdict was against the entire Fifth Schedule of the Constitution that protects tribal interests.

As per some media reports, the government order of 2000 was issued after complete understanding of the situation and thorough comprehension of the situation of teacher absenteeism in the tribal areas. Non tribal teachers have been reluctant to travel extra miles to teach and settle in tribal areas with no facilities and an established language barrier. This hampers the promotion of education in tribal areas of India but the judgment was tone deaf on these issues.

  1. Jammu and Kashmir detention cases  

Post the abrogation of Article 370 withdrawing Kashmir’s special status, several habeas corpus petitions have been filed in the court against alleged illegal detention. In a 2020 letter written by the Executive Committee members of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court Bar Association to the then Chief Justice, they highlighted that more than 600 habeas corpus petitions have been filed before the High Court and not even 1% of such cases have been decided.

Habeas corpus petitions protect a very important right, a right against detention, which is also internationally recognised. Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights lays down the Right to liberty and security which includes the right of persons detained to challenge their detention. Justice Mishra dealt with cases pertaining to the alleged detention of Jammu and Kashmir leaders like Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Saifuddin Soz but showed a lax attitude in dealing with the matters on an urgent basis.

According to a LiveLaw report, when a habeas corpus petition was filed by Omar Abdullah’s sister against his detention in February 2020, Justice Mishra adjourned the matter for two weeks and was quoted saying, “if the sister could wait for such a long period (one year), then 15 days won’t make a difference”.

Congress leader and former Union Minister Professor Saifuddin Soz’s detention case was closed by Justice Mishra after accepting the central government’s claims that he isn’t under detention. Soon after, media reports surfaced showing Soz under house arrest.

  1. Haren Pandya Murder case

Justice Arun Mishra was assigned the crucial Haren Pandya murder case, in which the Bench comprising him and Justice Vineet Saran, reversed the acquittal of the accused persons by the Gujarat High Court which held that the CBI had botched up the investigation. These 12 people were implicated by Gujarat police in the murder of former Home Minister, Haren Pandya.

Justice Mishra believed the CBI’s version that the motive to kill “was to spread terror amongst Hindus. It was part of an international conspiracy. Mr. Haren Pandya was a BJP leader who earlier held the post of Home Minister. He had played an active role in post-Godhra riots at Ahmedabad.” (Cri. Appeal No. 140-151 of 2012)

The judgment was heavily criticised for ignoring inconsistencies and relying on only one sole eye witness to reverse the acquittals. It declined to order further investigation or re-investigation and said that, “The petition (appeal against conviction) is not maintainable and has been filed with an oblique motive.”

  1. Prashant Bhushan contempt case

Free speech is arguably one of the most important fundamental and human rights in a democracy, but it has also remained one of the most controversial rights over the past few years with several judicial interpretations.

Human rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan was slapped with contempt charges after he tweeted against the then CJI Bobde, insinuating that he was enjoying joy rides on an expensive motorcycle while the Supreme Court was in lockdown. The Supreme Court held him in contempt and said that his tweet was a scandalous and malicious statement.

The judgment by the Arun Mishra Bench did not only neglect the right to free speech but also dismissed legal precedents. The plea against Bhushan was filed by one Mehek Maheswari, who initiated the contempt proceedings without securing the mandatory consent of the attorney general under section 15 of the Contempt of courts Act, 1971, and the administrative order which converted it as a suo motu petition.

This was against the established precedent of Biman Basu case of 2010, where the top court held that the contempt proceedings taken by the Calcutta High Court is not maintainable because first, the mandatory consent of the attorney general was not taken and second, the original contempt petition did not pray for the high court to take suo motu action against the appellant.

  1. Eviction of slum and tribal dwellers

On August 31, 2020, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, unsurprisingly headed by Justice Arun Mishra ordered the removal of nearly 48,000 slum dwellings around the 140-km of railway tracks in Delhi within three months with no “interference”, political or otherwise. (MC Mehta vs Union of India 1985).

This was in direct contravention of the landmark judgment in Oliga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation (1985) that held that the right to shelter and livelihood is a facet of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The judgment in Olga Tellis was delivered by a five-judge bench, which the three-judge should have ought to follow but did not. In addition to this, the order did not provide details of alternative rehabilitation, etc and was passed in the middle of a pandemic against the most disadvantaged.

After J Mishra’s retirement, the appeal against his order was taken up in the SC and the central government had assured that coercive action won’t be taken against the slum clusters, reported The Hindu.

Back in February 2019, he had also ordered for the eviction of tribals and forest dwellers whose claims over land were rejected under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights Act), 2006. But within two weeks this was stayed by a Bench consisting of the Judge himself after dozens of countrywide protests against the ill-thought-out judgement and sharp criticism. Sokalo Gond, Nevada Rana, All India Union of Forest Working Peoples and CJP have filed a substantive Intervention Application against the SC order of Evictions and pointing out how evictions are statutorily incompatible with the Forest Rights Act of 2006.

  1. Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad cases

When one of the accused Gautam Navlakha, a senior journalist and activist moved the Delhi High Court for bail amid Covid-19, (Bail App 986 of 2020), it noted that the NIA acted in “unseemly haste” to move Gautam out of the jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court while it was considering his bail application. The exact wordings of the order dated May 27, 2020 are reproduced below:

“While ordinarily this court would not see too much cause for hurry in this case, in view of the inexplicable, frantic hurry shown by the NIA in moving the applicant from Delhi to Mumbai while this matter was pending and the NIA had itself sought time to file status report, this court does get a sense that all proceedings in this jurisdiction would be rendered utterly infructuous if an element of urgency is not brought to bear on the present proceedings. Prima-facie it appears that while on the last date, this court had granted adequate time to the NIA to file its status report in response to the interim bail plea; and while the NIA has filed an affidavit opposing that plea, the NIA has acted in unseemly haste to instead remove the applicant out of the very jurisdiction of this court ; and, if the applicant is right, without even informing the Special Judge (NIA), Mumbai or the Special Judge (NIA), Delhi of the pendency of the present proceedings.”

The NIA then moved the top court. It was none less than Justice Mishra who heard the matter (Cri Appeal 471 of 2020), and predictably, set aside this High Court order, and directed for the expunging of remarks made by the High Court against the NIA.

Related:

SC directs 48,000 shanties to be razed along railways track in Delhi
Prashant Bhushan contempt case: The judgment behind the Re. 1 penalty
SC decision quashing ST reservation reflects Manuwadi mindset: Review petition 
Re-investigate Judge Loya’s death: Sharad Pawar
Even without an investigation, Supreme Court concludes that Judge Loya’s death was natural 

NHRC chairmanship contender Justice Arun Mishra's legacy

High-powered recommendation committee has reportedly proposed Justice Mishra’s name to lead National Human Rights Commission

Image Courtesy:theleaflet.in

The high-powered recommendation committee has proposed Justice Arun Mishra’s name to head the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). While a formal announcement is awaited The Hindu has today reported that it is likely that Justice Mishra who retired as a Supreme Court judge on September 2, 2020, will lead the top human rights body of the nation. The last chairperson, Justice HL Dattu retired in December 2020, the acting chairperson is Justice Prafulla Chandra Pant, a former Supreme Court judge.

Justice Arun Mishra’s name was proposed by a selection panel that included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Harivansh, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge.

According to news reports, senior Congress leader Kharge had recommended that the NHRC chief be a “representative from either a Dalit, Adivasi or a minority committee,” as many complaints of human rights violations come from these sections, and thus the Commission should have the appropriate representation. The other names that were discussed included former Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Mahesh Mittal Kumar and former Director of Intelligence Bureau, Rajiv Jain, stated news reports.

Justice Mishra’s legal career began in 1978 when he enrolled as a lawyer. He was elected youngest chairperson of Bar Council of India in 1998-99, and was appointed judge of Madhya Pradesh High Court in October 1999. He has served as Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court and Calcutta High Court as well and was elevated to the Supreme Court on July 7, 2014. His “tenure at the Supreme Court was marked by various controversies, prominent being the Judge Loya case and the Prashant Bhushan contempt of court case” commented the legal portal, Bar and Bench. 

After he retired last year as the second senior most judge at the Supreme Court, Justice Mishra’s legacy has been conservatively defined as a controversial one: he was the chosen Judge for hearing some high-profile matters despite being considered a more ‘junior’ but influential judge. In fact, as far as influence goes, in 2019, Justice Mishra’s brother, Vishal Mishra, an advocate in the Madhya Pradesh High Court, was made a judge of the High Court before he completed 45 years of age, which is the official minimum age for such an appointment under the draft memorandum of procedure (MOP) for judicial appointments.

Justice Mishra is known to have ruled in favour of the government and his presiding over the case of Justice Loya’s death seemed to have triggered a press conference in 2018 in the lawns of Justice Chelameswar’s residence protesting against sensitive matters being posted by Chief Justice Dipak Mishra before “one particular junior judge”.

According to an Indian Express report, the matter pertaining to Judge BH Loya’s death was assigned to a Bench presided over by Justice Mishra (by former CJI Dipak Mishra), ignoring nine other judges senior to him. Judge Loya, a special CBI judge, was hearing the case of the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife and others, that involved the present Home Minister of India as an accused. As Judge Loya’s sudden demise came as a shock, a petition was filed in the top court seeking a probe by an independent agency. Following the press conference, he felt obligated to recuse and this politically sensitive case was later heard by the then CJI, Dipak Misra, and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y.Chandrachud.

The case (W.P Civ. 19 of 2018), was then dismissed where the three-judge bench said, “There is no reason to disbelieve the sequence of events leading to the death as narrated by the four judicial officers namely Shrikant Kulkarni, Shriram Modak, R. Rathi and Vijay Kumar Barde and the assertions of Bombay High Court Justices Bhushan Gawai and Sunil Shukre”. It also slammed the petitioners by saying, “The conduct of the petitioners and the intervenors is, as we have indicated, lacking in bona fides and reveals a misuse of judicial process.” Justice B.R. Gavai went on to be elevated to the Supreme Court in 2019.

Here’s a look at some of his other controversial pronouncements at the Supreme Court:

  1. Indore Development Authority, the land acquisition case

In February, 2018, a three-judge bench presided over by Justice Arun Mishra in Indore Development Authority v Shailendra by a 2:1 split decision, set aside a 2014 decision in Pune Municipal Corporation v Harakchand Misirmal Solanki delivered by another three-judge Bench.

In the 2014 decision of Pune Municipal Corporation, the Supreme Court Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha, Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph had held that land acquisition could be declared void under section 24(2) of the Land Acquisition Act if monetary compensation had not been deposited in the bank accounts of the land owners or with the court. The judgment had agreed that money in the government treasury would not be treated as a form of payment to a landowner.

But in 2018, when Justice Mishra took up this case, he disagreed with the 2014 decision, and also went to the length of labelling it per incuriam, i.e., he held that the 2014 judgment was delivered through lack of due regard to the law or the facts. So, the Indore Development case held that paying money into the government treasury will be treated as payment for the land acquisition process even if the payment had not been made to the farmer.

Further, Justice Mishra also ruled that land acquisitions will not lapse just because a land owner refused to accept compensation within the prescribed 5 years. It held that in a scenario wherein compensation had been tendered, but the person refused to accept it, it would amount to discharge of obligation under section 31(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. 

This created a lot of confusion as most cases between 2014 and 2018 were settled following the Pune Municipal precedent and some cases were also pending. Post Indore Development Authority, a similar land acquisition matter came up before a three-judge bench on February 21, 2018 in Haryana v. GD Goenka Tourism Corporation, where Justices Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph (who sat on the Pune Municipal Corporation case) raised concerns.

This led to setting up of a constitution bench by the then CJI, Dipak Misra on February 26, 2018 to decide whether and if the 2018 coordinate bench of three judges (with one dissenting opinion) could have overruled the earlier decision of a unanimous three-judge bench in 2014. This judicial interpretation came after the controversial Judge had refused to recuse himself from hearing the case despite a convincing case being made for such a recusal. Ideally Justice Mishra should have recused himself from sitting on this Bench to reconsider a judgment delivered by him but he did not.

According to the judgment, Justice Arun Mishra decided not to recuse in the “interest of the judiciary and the system”. Finally, on March 4, 2020, the five-judge bench overturned Pune Municipal Corporation and held that land acquisition proceedings could not lapse merely due to a failure to pay compensation to landowners. It held that a lapse would only occur if the government failed to take physical possession of the land. J. Arun Mishra’s views were upheld.

  1. 100 Percent Tribal reservation case

In Chebrolu Leela Prasad Rao and Others v State of Andhra Pradesh (2020), he presided over a constitution bench of five judges, and quashed, in a unanimous judgment, a government order followed in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana that provided 100% reservation to Scheduled Tribe candidates out of whom 33.3% was reserved for women for the post of teachers in the schools in the scheduled areas in Andhra Pradesh.

It held that there was “no rhyme or reason” with the State Government to resort to 100% reservation. This judgment led to widespread protests amongst the tribal population that believed that the verdict was against the entire Fifth Schedule of the Constitution that protects tribal interests.

As per some media reports, the government order of 2000 was issued after complete understanding of the situation and thorough comprehension of the situation of teacher absenteeism in the tribal areas. Non tribal teachers have been reluctant to travel extra miles to teach and settle in tribal areas with no facilities and an established language barrier. This hampers the promotion of education in tribal areas of India but the judgment was tone deaf on these issues.

  1. Jammu and Kashmir detention cases  

Post the abrogation of Article 370 withdrawing Kashmir’s special status, several habeas corpus petitions have been filed in the court against alleged illegal detention. In a 2020 letter written by the Executive Committee members of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court Bar Association to the then Chief Justice, they highlighted that more than 600 habeas corpus petitions have been filed before the High Court and not even 1% of such cases have been decided.

Habeas corpus petitions protect a very important right, a right against detention, which is also internationally recognised. Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights lays down the Right to liberty and security which includes the right of persons detained to challenge their detention. Justice Mishra dealt with cases pertaining to the alleged detention of Jammu and Kashmir leaders like Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Saifuddin Soz but showed a lax attitude in dealing with the matters on an urgent basis.

According to a LiveLaw report, when a habeas corpus petition was filed by Omar Abdullah’s sister against his detention in February 2020, Justice Mishra adjourned the matter for two weeks and was quoted saying, “if the sister could wait for such a long period (one year), then 15 days won’t make a difference”.

Congress leader and former Union Minister Professor Saifuddin Soz’s detention case was closed by Justice Mishra after accepting the central government’s claims that he isn’t under detention. Soon after, media reports surfaced showing Soz under house arrest.

  1. Haren Pandya Murder case

Justice Arun Mishra was assigned the crucial Haren Pandya murder case, in which the Bench comprising him and Justice Vineet Saran, reversed the acquittal of the accused persons by the Gujarat High Court which held that the CBI had botched up the investigation. These 12 people were implicated by Gujarat police in the murder of former Home Minister, Haren Pandya.

Justice Mishra believed the CBI’s version that the motive to kill “was to spread terror amongst Hindus. It was part of an international conspiracy. Mr. Haren Pandya was a BJP leader who earlier held the post of Home Minister. He had played an active role in post-Godhra riots at Ahmedabad.” (Cri. Appeal No. 140-151 of 2012)

The judgment was heavily criticised for ignoring inconsistencies and relying on only one sole eye witness to reverse the acquittals. It declined to order further investigation or re-investigation and said that, “The petition (appeal against conviction) is not maintainable and has been filed with an oblique motive.”

  1. Prashant Bhushan contempt case

Free speech is arguably one of the most important fundamental and human rights in a democracy, but it has also remained one of the most controversial rights over the past few years with several judicial interpretations.

Human rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan was slapped with contempt charges after he tweeted against the then CJI Bobde, insinuating that he was enjoying joy rides on an expensive motorcycle while the Supreme Court was in lockdown. The Supreme Court held him in contempt and said that his tweet was a scandalous and malicious statement.

The judgment by the Arun Mishra Bench did not only neglect the right to free speech but also dismissed legal precedents. The plea against Bhushan was filed by one Mehek Maheswari, who initiated the contempt proceedings without securing the mandatory consent of the attorney general under section 15 of the Contempt of courts Act, 1971, and the administrative order which converted it as a suo motu petition.

This was against the established precedent of Biman Basu case of 2010, where the top court held that the contempt proceedings taken by the Calcutta High Court is not maintainable because first, the mandatory consent of the attorney general was not taken and second, the original contempt petition did not pray for the high court to take suo motu action against the appellant.

  1. Eviction of slum and tribal dwellers

On August 31, 2020, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, unsurprisingly headed by Justice Arun Mishra ordered the removal of nearly 48,000 slum dwellings around the 140-km of railway tracks in Delhi within three months with no “interference”, political or otherwise. (MC Mehta vs Union of India 1985).

This was in direct contravention of the landmark judgment in Oliga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation (1985) that held that the right to shelter and livelihood is a facet of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The judgment in Olga Tellis was delivered by a five-judge bench, which the three-judge should have ought to follow but did not. In addition to this, the order did not provide details of alternative rehabilitation, etc and was passed in the middle of a pandemic against the most disadvantaged.

After J Mishra’s retirement, the appeal against his order was taken up in the SC and the central government had assured that coercive action won’t be taken against the slum clusters, reported The Hindu.

Back in February 2019, he had also ordered for the eviction of tribals and forest dwellers whose claims over land were rejected under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights Act), 2006. But within two weeks this was stayed by a Bench consisting of the Judge himself after dozens of countrywide protests against the ill-thought-out judgement and sharp criticism. Sokalo Gond, Nevada Rana, All India Union of Forest Working Peoples and CJP have filed a substantive Intervention Application against the SC order of Evictions and pointing out how evictions are statutorily incompatible with the Forest Rights Act of 2006.

  1. Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad cases

When one of the accused Gautam Navlakha, a senior journalist and activist moved the Delhi High Court for bail amid Covid-19, (Bail App 986 of 2020), it noted that the NIA acted in “unseemly haste” to move Gautam out of the jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court while it was considering his bail application. The exact wordings of the order dated May 27, 2020 are reproduced below:

“While ordinarily this court would not see too much cause for hurry in this case, in view of the inexplicable, frantic hurry shown by the NIA in moving the applicant from Delhi to Mumbai while this matter was pending and the NIA had itself sought time to file status report, this court does get a sense that all proceedings in this jurisdiction would be rendered utterly infructuous if an element of urgency is not brought to bear on the present proceedings. Prima-facie it appears that while on the last date, this court had granted adequate time to the NIA to file its status report in response to the interim bail plea; and while the NIA has filed an affidavit opposing that plea, the NIA has acted in unseemly haste to instead remove the applicant out of the very jurisdiction of this court ; and, if the applicant is right, without even informing the Special Judge (NIA), Mumbai or the Special Judge (NIA), Delhi of the pendency of the present proceedings.”

The NIA then moved the top court. It was none less than Justice Mishra who heard the matter (Cri Appeal 471 of 2020), and predictably, set aside this High Court order, and directed for the expunging of remarks made by the High Court against the NIA.

Related:

SC directs 48,000 shanties to be razed along railways track in Delhi
Prashant Bhushan contempt case: The judgment behind the Re. 1 penalty
SC decision quashing ST reservation reflects Manuwadi mindset: Review petition 
Re-investigate Judge Loya’s death: Sharad Pawar
Even without an investigation, Supreme Court concludes that Judge Loya’s death was natural 

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Why is the government scared of ex-bureaucrats’ writing books, articles?

An amendment to Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules 1972 now “prohibits” them from publishing statements, books, articles, opinions etc without permission

02 Jun 2021

Image Courtesy:searchengineland.com

The Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG) is a collective of 92 former civil servants, all subject experts who retired at senior positions. They often issue sharp statements and analysis on current affairs, especially on issues concerning human rights. These former IPS, IAS officers bravely voice their concerns about events as they unfold.

An example is this  statement they issued on the farmers' protest that is still holding strong on Delhi borders. They demanded withdrawal of cases against farmers, social media users and journalists, and asked that the vicious and sickening propaganda of calling farmers “Khalistanis,” to create a conducive atmosphere for resumption of talks be stopped. They advised the Government of India to “withdraw the three laws and think of other possible solutions, given the basic Constitutional position that the subject of agriculture is in the States’ list.”

Their missives, and that of other retired civil servants, who continue commenting on, writing about policy and politics seem to have rankled those in power. The Government has made an official move to curb their voice too by notifying an amendment to the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules 1972 that “prohibits” them from making media statements, publishing books, articles, opinions and letters on subjects that fall within the “domain” of the organisations they are writing about without prior clearance. This amendment in Rule 8: ‘Pension subject to future good conduct’. Any pensioner seen in “violation” of the latest amendment can have their pension docked.

The gazette notification issued on May 31, 2021  by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi states: “No Government servant, who, having worked in any Intelligence or Security-related organisation included in the Second Schedule of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (22 of 2005), shall, without prior clearance from the Head of the Organisation, make any publication after retirement, of any material relating to and including:

(i)  domain of the organisation, including any reference or information about any personnel and his designation, and expertise or knowledge gained by virtue of working in that organisation;

(ii)  sensitive information, the disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, or relation with a foreign State or which would lead to incitement of an offence.`` It adds that “The Head of the Organisation shall vest with the authority to decide as to whether the proposed material for publication is sensitive or non-sensitive, and whether it falls in the domain of the organization.”  

There is also a declaration form where the retired Government Servant has to make this declaration: “I am aware that the pension which may be granted to me after retirement, in terms of the relevant pension rules, can be withheld or withdrawn, in full or part, for any failure of this undertaking given.”
 

The Gazette notification may be accessed here: https://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2021/227308.pdf

The 18 organisations covered by the new rule, reported The Wire, include: the Intelligence Bureau, the Research and Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, the Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Aviation Research Centre, Special Frontier Force, Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, National Security Guards, Assam Rifles, Special Service Bureau, Special Branch (CID) of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, Crime Branch-C.I.D.-CB of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and the Special Branch, Lakshadweep Police.

Now, none of the offices who have ever served in the above listed departments can only write news reports or opinions or comments on the subjects that they are experts on, after getting written permission from the concerned department. 

This comes close on the heels of the former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay retiring and being appointed Chief Adviser to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Bandyopadhyay was issued notice under the Disaster Management Act, and the Centre asked him to explain in writing by Thursday as to why action should not be initiated against him for failing to attend a Cyclone Yaas review meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kalaikunda. Meanwhile the hashtag ‘ModiAgainst_IAS_IPS’ has continued to trend for two days with social media users expressing support towards Bandyopadhyay and other former civil servants.

Related:

Handling of electronic evidence by agencies a perversion of criminal justice: CCG
If the gov’t wants a resolution, it should repeal laws: CCG

Why is the government scared of ex-bureaucrats’ writing books, articles?

An amendment to Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules 1972 now “prohibits” them from publishing statements, books, articles, opinions etc without permission

Image Courtesy:searchengineland.com

The Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG) is a collective of 92 former civil servants, all subject experts who retired at senior positions. They often issue sharp statements and analysis on current affairs, especially on issues concerning human rights. These former IPS, IAS officers bravely voice their concerns about events as they unfold.

An example is this  statement they issued on the farmers' protest that is still holding strong on Delhi borders. They demanded withdrawal of cases against farmers, social media users and journalists, and asked that the vicious and sickening propaganda of calling farmers “Khalistanis,” to create a conducive atmosphere for resumption of talks be stopped. They advised the Government of India to “withdraw the three laws and think of other possible solutions, given the basic Constitutional position that the subject of agriculture is in the States’ list.”

Their missives, and that of other retired civil servants, who continue commenting on, writing about policy and politics seem to have rankled those in power. The Government has made an official move to curb their voice too by notifying an amendment to the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules 1972 that “prohibits” them from making media statements, publishing books, articles, opinions and letters on subjects that fall within the “domain” of the organisations they are writing about without prior clearance. This amendment in Rule 8: ‘Pension subject to future good conduct’. Any pensioner seen in “violation” of the latest amendment can have their pension docked.

The gazette notification issued on May 31, 2021  by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi states: “No Government servant, who, having worked in any Intelligence or Security-related organisation included in the Second Schedule of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (22 of 2005), shall, without prior clearance from the Head of the Organisation, make any publication after retirement, of any material relating to and including:

(i)  domain of the organisation, including any reference or information about any personnel and his designation, and expertise or knowledge gained by virtue of working in that organisation;

(ii)  sensitive information, the disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, or relation with a foreign State or which would lead to incitement of an offence.`` It adds that “The Head of the Organisation shall vest with the authority to decide as to whether the proposed material for publication is sensitive or non-sensitive, and whether it falls in the domain of the organization.”  

There is also a declaration form where the retired Government Servant has to make this declaration: “I am aware that the pension which may be granted to me after retirement, in terms of the relevant pension rules, can be withheld or withdrawn, in full or part, for any failure of this undertaking given.”
 

The Gazette notification may be accessed here: https://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2021/227308.pdf

The 18 organisations covered by the new rule, reported The Wire, include: the Intelligence Bureau, the Research and Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, the Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Aviation Research Centre, Special Frontier Force, Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, National Security Guards, Assam Rifles, Special Service Bureau, Special Branch (CID) of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, Crime Branch-C.I.D.-CB of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and the Special Branch, Lakshadweep Police.

Now, none of the offices who have ever served in the above listed departments can only write news reports or opinions or comments on the subjects that they are experts on, after getting written permission from the concerned department. 

This comes close on the heels of the former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay retiring and being appointed Chief Adviser to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Bandyopadhyay was issued notice under the Disaster Management Act, and the Centre asked him to explain in writing by Thursday as to why action should not be initiated against him for failing to attend a Cyclone Yaas review meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kalaikunda. Meanwhile the hashtag ‘ModiAgainst_IAS_IPS’ has continued to trend for two days with social media users expressing support towards Bandyopadhyay and other former civil servants.

Related:

Handling of electronic evidence by agencies a perversion of criminal justice: CCG
If the gov’t wants a resolution, it should repeal laws: CCG

Related Articles


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Huge mismatch between Gujarat’s Covid records and data from crematoria, cemeteries

Despite ranking among the top three states in terms of vaccination drive, the state’s data in terms of Covid-deaths barely accounts for even 10 percent of the actual data presented on-ground.

02 Jun 2021

Image Courtesy:businesstoday.in

Three months into the second wave of Covid-19, newspapers continue to document the gulf-like disparity between the government Covid-data and on-ground reports. Such is the difference between the two numbers that media reports claim Surat's crematorium data records 11 times more Covid-deaths than official figures.

According to Reuters, at least seven cemeteries, including graveyards, in the city conducted more than three-fold cremations and burials in April compared with a year ago. Site visits and logs revealed 6,520 deaths in April compared to 1,980 deaths in the same month last year. Yet, the administration recognises only 585 Covid-deaths for both city and district toll.

Similarly, Surat’s renowned Ashwini Kumar crematorium claimed 3,129 cremations in April, Trustee Prashant Kabrawala told the news agency. Last year in April, the same place conducted 1,200 cremations. Workers at the crematorium reported incessant arrival of bodies even at night with nine gas crematoriums working non-stop.

The consequences of such stress on infrastructure were survived by people at the Kurukshetra crematorium where a chimney collapsed due to overheating as furnaces ran without break for a prolonged period of time. As per records, the facility cremated over 100 bodies a day on several days. Another place in Umra area, recorded 874 deaths in April, 2021 as opposed to 212 bodies in April, 2020.

Meanwhile, four Muslim burial grounds said that workers had to hire mechanical excavators to keep up with demand. The largest one in Surat, Gore Gariba Kabrastan, said burials spiked to an all-time high of 91 bodies in April 2021. According to Secretary and Managing Trustee Aiyub Mohamed Yacoobali the average number of burials prior to the second wave was around 20 burials per month.

Later in May, The Wire reported severe space constraints for two small graveyards in Muslim-populated Juhapura in Ahmedabad district. Steadily decreasing labour force resulted in a six-hour waiting period for a burial. Grave diggers that are joined by volunteers end up working till 3 AM.

Last year, mechanical excavators dug the ground at Namara Chhota Kabrastan as deep as 10 feet. Workers are now digging up the same spots six feet deep to bury this year’s casualties. As for Christian and Parsi communities in the state, members agreed to cremate their dead instead of conventional burials.

Recently, local Gujarati paper Gujarat Samachar announced 783 official deaths recorded during the first five months of the year at Modasa town of Aravalli district. Journalist Deepak Patel, who has been vigilantly recording the gaps between state and newspaper obituaries, stated that in the pre-pandemic era, the town noted an average of 60 deaths per month. This means that there are nearly 483 deaths in 2021 that have not been accounted for by officials.

Moreover, the state government data states 74 Covid-death in the whole Aravalli district between 2020 and 2021, even though there are more than 680 villages in the area. On June 2, Patel noted that 750 bodies were cremated as per Covid protocol at a cremation ground in Navsari, Gujarat within the last 2 months. However, Gujarat official data only recognised 23 people who died due to Covid-19 in the area.

Reports comparing obituary entries and government figures have become routine reports. Most recent data sourced from Gujarat Samchar of June 1 alone shows the significance of such articles in the state:

District

Gujarat Samachar deaths

Official deaths

Gandhinagar

5

0

Vadodara

35

3

Kheda

8

0

Surat

12 (at least)

3

Bharuch

6 (at least)

0

All

66 (at least)

6

Aside from this, the newspaper also recorded 34 Covid-deaths in Jamnagar, Rajkot and Gir Somnath districts on Tuesday while government data showed only five deaths in the three places. Similarly, Navsari and Valsad reported five Covid-deaths but government figures did not note any of these deaths.

Using such data, Patel also created a detailed table that compared data collated using Sandesh newspaper reports and Gujarat government information from April 25 to May 24.

What about vaccination?

On May 5, experts had questioned government data that showed 60 percent of the 86,023 people vaccinated by then were administered in Gujarat. Indeed, Gujarat is among the nine states that has vaccinated more than one crore people in its jurisdiction.

However, this huge lead has not helped the state considering Gujarat ranks only third in terms of number of vaccinations.

Maharashtra, leading in terms of vaccination, records 2,30,24,889 doses while Gujarat has conducted only 1,74, 53,553 doses in all. Even compared to Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat lags behind by more than 15 lakh doses.

The state is also not exempt from peculiarities such as incidents wherein people who had died years ago have been declared as vaccinated. According to India Today, more than 10 such cases have been observed so far. Among them, a man named Natwarlal Desai died in 2011. Angered families have demanded an investigation into the matter.

As of June 1, Covid19India records 8,10,730 confirmed cases with 29,015 confirmed cases and 9,855 deaths. Including the 60 outstanding deaths mentioned by Gujarat Samachar on Tuesday, this brings the death toll to at least 9,915 deaths.

Related:

Covid-19: Which Indian states failed miserably in tackling the pandemic?
Did Gujarat get preference over other states in Covid vaccination for 18-44 year olds?
Anger simmers as bodies pile up outside crematoria in Gujarat
Are obituaries in Gujarat newspapers a better indicator of real Covid-deaths?

Huge mismatch between Gujarat’s Covid records and data from crematoria, cemeteries

Despite ranking among the top three states in terms of vaccination drive, the state’s data in terms of Covid-deaths barely accounts for even 10 percent of the actual data presented on-ground.

Image Courtesy:businesstoday.in

Three months into the second wave of Covid-19, newspapers continue to document the gulf-like disparity between the government Covid-data and on-ground reports. Such is the difference between the two numbers that media reports claim Surat's crematorium data records 11 times more Covid-deaths than official figures.

According to Reuters, at least seven cemeteries, including graveyards, in the city conducted more than three-fold cremations and burials in April compared with a year ago. Site visits and logs revealed 6,520 deaths in April compared to 1,980 deaths in the same month last year. Yet, the administration recognises only 585 Covid-deaths for both city and district toll.

Similarly, Surat’s renowned Ashwini Kumar crematorium claimed 3,129 cremations in April, Trustee Prashant Kabrawala told the news agency. Last year in April, the same place conducted 1,200 cremations. Workers at the crematorium reported incessant arrival of bodies even at night with nine gas crematoriums working non-stop.

The consequences of such stress on infrastructure were survived by people at the Kurukshetra crematorium where a chimney collapsed due to overheating as furnaces ran without break for a prolonged period of time. As per records, the facility cremated over 100 bodies a day on several days. Another place in Umra area, recorded 874 deaths in April, 2021 as opposed to 212 bodies in April, 2020.

Meanwhile, four Muslim burial grounds said that workers had to hire mechanical excavators to keep up with demand. The largest one in Surat, Gore Gariba Kabrastan, said burials spiked to an all-time high of 91 bodies in April 2021. According to Secretary and Managing Trustee Aiyub Mohamed Yacoobali the average number of burials prior to the second wave was around 20 burials per month.

Later in May, The Wire reported severe space constraints for two small graveyards in Muslim-populated Juhapura in Ahmedabad district. Steadily decreasing labour force resulted in a six-hour waiting period for a burial. Grave diggers that are joined by volunteers end up working till 3 AM.

Last year, mechanical excavators dug the ground at Namara Chhota Kabrastan as deep as 10 feet. Workers are now digging up the same spots six feet deep to bury this year’s casualties. As for Christian and Parsi communities in the state, members agreed to cremate their dead instead of conventional burials.

Recently, local Gujarati paper Gujarat Samachar announced 783 official deaths recorded during the first five months of the year at Modasa town of Aravalli district. Journalist Deepak Patel, who has been vigilantly recording the gaps between state and newspaper obituaries, stated that in the pre-pandemic era, the town noted an average of 60 deaths per month. This means that there are nearly 483 deaths in 2021 that have not been accounted for by officials.

Moreover, the state government data states 74 Covid-death in the whole Aravalli district between 2020 and 2021, even though there are more than 680 villages in the area. On June 2, Patel noted that 750 bodies were cremated as per Covid protocol at a cremation ground in Navsari, Gujarat within the last 2 months. However, Gujarat official data only recognised 23 people who died due to Covid-19 in the area.

Reports comparing obituary entries and government figures have become routine reports. Most recent data sourced from Gujarat Samchar of June 1 alone shows the significance of such articles in the state:

District

Gujarat Samachar deaths

Official deaths

Gandhinagar

5

0

Vadodara

35

3

Kheda

8

0

Surat

12 (at least)

3

Bharuch

6 (at least)

0

All

66 (at least)

6

Aside from this, the newspaper also recorded 34 Covid-deaths in Jamnagar, Rajkot and Gir Somnath districts on Tuesday while government data showed only five deaths in the three places. Similarly, Navsari and Valsad reported five Covid-deaths but government figures did not note any of these deaths.

Using such data, Patel also created a detailed table that compared data collated using Sandesh newspaper reports and Gujarat government information from April 25 to May 24.

What about vaccination?

On May 5, experts had questioned government data that showed 60 percent of the 86,023 people vaccinated by then were administered in Gujarat. Indeed, Gujarat is among the nine states that has vaccinated more than one crore people in its jurisdiction.

However, this huge lead has not helped the state considering Gujarat ranks only third in terms of number of vaccinations.

Maharashtra, leading in terms of vaccination, records 2,30,24,889 doses while Gujarat has conducted only 1,74, 53,553 doses in all. Even compared to Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat lags behind by more than 15 lakh doses.

The state is also not exempt from peculiarities such as incidents wherein people who had died years ago have been declared as vaccinated. According to India Today, more than 10 such cases have been observed so far. Among them, a man named Natwarlal Desai died in 2011. Angered families have demanded an investigation into the matter.

As of June 1, Covid19India records 8,10,730 confirmed cases with 29,015 confirmed cases and 9,855 deaths. Including the 60 outstanding deaths mentioned by Gujarat Samachar on Tuesday, this brings the death toll to at least 9,915 deaths.

Related:

Covid-19: Which Indian states failed miserably in tackling the pandemic?
Did Gujarat get preference over other states in Covid vaccination for 18-44 year olds?
Anger simmers as bodies pile up outside crematoria in Gujarat
Are obituaries in Gujarat newspapers a better indicator of real Covid-deaths?

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Petrol, diesel prices hiked for the 17th time in a month!

Rate crosses Rs 100 per litre in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, as government continues to raise taxes yet again

02 Jun 2021

Image Courtesy:indiatvnews.com

At around Rs 100.72 per litre on June 1, Petrol in Mumbai costs twice as much as it does in New York, where it sells for $0.79 (approximately Rs 57) per litre! Not a line from a meme, but a report in Business Today when fuel prices were hiked, yet again.

The price hike is akin to an inflation pandemic, which continues to attack citizens already dealing with Covid-19, lockdown, job loss, and more. According to reports, Rajasthan has the costliest Petrol at Rs 105.53 per litre and diesel at Rs 98.32 on Tuesday, at Sri Ganganagar, near the India-Pakistan border.

In Delhi, petrol was selling at Rs 94.49 per litre and diesel was at Rs 85.38 per litre. In Kolkata it was Rs 94.50 for a litre of petrol, and diesel was at Rs 88.23, while in Chennai, petrol was at Rs 95.99 per litre and diesel reached Rs 90.12 per litre, reported BT. 

According to the news report, the steep rise in fuel prices across India has been happening over the past year. “The government has repeatedly raised taxes to provide a cushion for worsening public finances” reported BT adding that the taxes “make up nearly 60 per cent of the retail price.”  The taxes on petrol and diesel have increased almost six-fold since 2013, however, according to the report “the sale of petrol and diesel in May still hasn't reached the pre-pandemic level and is nearly a third of that in 2019 as large parts of the nation are under local lockdowns to battle the coronavirus second wave.”

A report by The Hindu stated that this is the 17th hike in petrol and diesel prices in a month! Overall the Petrol price was increased by 26 paise per litre and diesel by 23 paise a litre this time, this is according to a price notification of State-owned fuel retailers, stated the news report. It explained that “fuel prices differ from State to State depending on the incidence of local taxes such as VAT and freight charges. Rajasthan levies the highest value-added tax (VAT) on petrol in the country, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.”

In May, petrol price has risen by ₹4.09 per litre and diesel by ₹4.65 a litre reported The Hindu, adding that “oil companies revise rates of petrol and diesel daily based on the average price of benchmark fuel in the international market in the preceding 15-days, and foreign exchange rates. Brent crude oil — the most widely used international benchmark — has risen 36% this year to more than $70 a barrel. This has prompted an increase in retail fuel prices.” 

And at the receiving end is the common citizen, for whom any hike in fuel price translates into a spike in the rates of daily essentials, most of which are dependent on petrol-diesel fueled transport to reach the retail market. Many on social media have decided to remind the Prime Minister of what he said about price hikes when he was Gujarat Chief minister.

Related:

PMO announces old fertilizer rates for farmers with 140% hiked subsidy on DAP fertiliser
Mamata Banerjee rides electric scooty to protest rising fuel prices
Withdraw excise duty hikes on petroleum products: CPI (M)
Retail inflation rises to over 5 percent while factory output decreases: NSO data

Petrol, diesel prices hiked for the 17th time in a month!

Rate crosses Rs 100 per litre in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, as government continues to raise taxes yet again

Image Courtesy:indiatvnews.com

At around Rs 100.72 per litre on June 1, Petrol in Mumbai costs twice as much as it does in New York, where it sells for $0.79 (approximately Rs 57) per litre! Not a line from a meme, but a report in Business Today when fuel prices were hiked, yet again.

The price hike is akin to an inflation pandemic, which continues to attack citizens already dealing with Covid-19, lockdown, job loss, and more. According to reports, Rajasthan has the costliest Petrol at Rs 105.53 per litre and diesel at Rs 98.32 on Tuesday, at Sri Ganganagar, near the India-Pakistan border.

In Delhi, petrol was selling at Rs 94.49 per litre and diesel was at Rs 85.38 per litre. In Kolkata it was Rs 94.50 for a litre of petrol, and diesel was at Rs 88.23, while in Chennai, petrol was at Rs 95.99 per litre and diesel reached Rs 90.12 per litre, reported BT. 

According to the news report, the steep rise in fuel prices across India has been happening over the past year. “The government has repeatedly raised taxes to provide a cushion for worsening public finances” reported BT adding that the taxes “make up nearly 60 per cent of the retail price.”  The taxes on petrol and diesel have increased almost six-fold since 2013, however, according to the report “the sale of petrol and diesel in May still hasn't reached the pre-pandemic level and is nearly a third of that in 2019 as large parts of the nation are under local lockdowns to battle the coronavirus second wave.”

A report by The Hindu stated that this is the 17th hike in petrol and diesel prices in a month! Overall the Petrol price was increased by 26 paise per litre and diesel by 23 paise a litre this time, this is according to a price notification of State-owned fuel retailers, stated the news report. It explained that “fuel prices differ from State to State depending on the incidence of local taxes such as VAT and freight charges. Rajasthan levies the highest value-added tax (VAT) on petrol in the country, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.”

In May, petrol price has risen by ₹4.09 per litre and diesel by ₹4.65 a litre reported The Hindu, adding that “oil companies revise rates of petrol and diesel daily based on the average price of benchmark fuel in the international market in the preceding 15-days, and foreign exchange rates. Brent crude oil — the most widely used international benchmark — has risen 36% this year to more than $70 a barrel. This has prompted an increase in retail fuel prices.” 

And at the receiving end is the common citizen, for whom any hike in fuel price translates into a spike in the rates of daily essentials, most of which are dependent on petrol-diesel fueled transport to reach the retail market. Many on social media have decided to remind the Prime Minister of what he said about price hikes when he was Gujarat Chief minister.

Related:

PMO announces old fertilizer rates for farmers with 140% hiked subsidy on DAP fertiliser
Mamata Banerjee rides electric scooty to protest rising fuel prices
Withdraw excise duty hikes on petroleum products: CPI (M)
Retail inflation rises to over 5 percent while factory output decreases: NSO data

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Alapan Bandyopadhyay issued notice under Disaster Management Act

Asked to explain in writing by Thursday why action should not be taken against him for skipping PM’s cyclone review meeting

02 Jun 2021

Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

Just when Mamata Banerjee thought she had won the round by appointing Alapan Bandyopadhyay as her Chief Adviser after his retirement, thus preventing his transfer to Delhi, the former West Bengal Chief Secretary has been issued notice under the Disaster Management Act.

The Centre has asked him to explain in writing by Thursday as to why action should not be initiated against him for failing to attend a Cyclone Yaas review meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kalaikunda.

The Telegraph reports that the Centre’s stand is that by abstaining from the meeting Bandyopadhyay had violated section 51 (b) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

However, it may be recalled that in her letter to the Prime Minister on Monday, Banerjee had clearly explained the circumstances that led to her and Bandyopadhyay not attending the meeting on May 28, 2021. Banerjee had said in her letter, “I had pre-scheduled aerial surveys and review meetings in the affected areas myself, but I re-scheduled everything to rush to Kalaikunda to attend the meeting with you accompanied by the Chief Secretary of my State.” Banerjee did aerial surveys in North and South Parganas before flying to Kalaikunda, but they got stuck in Sagar as flight permissions were delayed to accommodate the PM’s movement. However, both still managed to reach by 2:30, well in time for the meeting.

“I wanted to have a quiet word with you, a meeting between the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister as usual. However, you revised the structure of the meeting to include a local MLA from your party and I am of the view (based on my knowledge of affairs of the State for about 40 years) that he has no locus to be present in a PM-CM meeting,” Banerjee had reminded Modi in her letter. Thereafter, Bandyopadhyay was in touch with a senior official accompanying Modi, requesting him to sort out the matter or organise a PM-CM meeting. However, “Despite a series of messages, we got no positive result or response.”

Thereafter Banerjee’s letter reveals that she did indeed meet Modi and personally hand over a report to him, and sought permission to proceed to Digha where a meeting was due and participants were waiting. “You expressly permitted us to take our leave. The matter must and ought to end there,” Banerjee had said in her letter.

However, some parts of this narrative do not match with the Centre’s version of events. The Telegraph reports that in their letter sent to Bandyopadhyay on Monday night the Centre claims, “The Prime Minister and other members of his entourage waited for nearly 15 minutes for the officers of the state government to arrive.” The Centre’s letter goes on to say, “In view of the absence, the Chief Secretary was called by an official as to whether they wanted to participate in the review meeting or not. Thereafter, Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal, arrived, along with the Chief Minister of West Bengal, inside the meeting room and left thereafter immediately.”

This clearly establishes that both Bandyopadhyay and Banerjee did indeed arrive in the meeting room, though does not mention anything about handing over of the report and skips straight to both leaving immediately, leaving the matter of seeking permission before leaving rather nebulous. However, it is hard to believe that a CM could just walk away from a PM’s meeting without his permission, and if permission to leave was indeed granted, how can the Centre still claim that they skipped the meeting?

SabrangIndia had previously reported that on May 28, the Centre had passed an order asking Alapan Bandyopadhyay to report to Delhi on May 31 by 10 A.M. The timing of the order was interesting given how Bandyopadhyay was all set to retire on May 31, but was given a three-month extension by the Centre on May 24 at the request of the state government.

The reason behind the sudden volte face was widely believed to be Banerjee and Bandyopadhyay’s alleged absence during the Kalaikunda meeting. In fact, Banerjee had addressed the elephant in the room in her letter to the PM saying, “I really and sincerely hope that this latest order is not related to my meeting with you at Kalaikunda. If that be the reason, it would be sad, unfortunate and would amount to sacrificing public interest at the altar of misplaced priorities.”

Related:

WB Chief Secy retires, becomes Mamata Banerjee’s Chief Adviser
Untenable, unprecedented and unconstitutional: Mamata Banerji on WB Chief Secy’s transfer order
 Mamata Banerjee transfers IPS, IAS officers shortly after taking oath

Alapan Bandyopadhyay issued notice under Disaster Management Act

Asked to explain in writing by Thursday why action should not be taken against him for skipping PM’s cyclone review meeting

Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

Just when Mamata Banerjee thought she had won the round by appointing Alapan Bandyopadhyay as her Chief Adviser after his retirement, thus preventing his transfer to Delhi, the former West Bengal Chief Secretary has been issued notice under the Disaster Management Act.

The Centre has asked him to explain in writing by Thursday as to why action should not be initiated against him for failing to attend a Cyclone Yaas review meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kalaikunda.

The Telegraph reports that the Centre’s stand is that by abstaining from the meeting Bandyopadhyay had violated section 51 (b) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

However, it may be recalled that in her letter to the Prime Minister on Monday, Banerjee had clearly explained the circumstances that led to her and Bandyopadhyay not attending the meeting on May 28, 2021. Banerjee had said in her letter, “I had pre-scheduled aerial surveys and review meetings in the affected areas myself, but I re-scheduled everything to rush to Kalaikunda to attend the meeting with you accompanied by the Chief Secretary of my State.” Banerjee did aerial surveys in North and South Parganas before flying to Kalaikunda, but they got stuck in Sagar as flight permissions were delayed to accommodate the PM’s movement. However, both still managed to reach by 2:30, well in time for the meeting.

“I wanted to have a quiet word with you, a meeting between the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister as usual. However, you revised the structure of the meeting to include a local MLA from your party and I am of the view (based on my knowledge of affairs of the State for about 40 years) that he has no locus to be present in a PM-CM meeting,” Banerjee had reminded Modi in her letter. Thereafter, Bandyopadhyay was in touch with a senior official accompanying Modi, requesting him to sort out the matter or organise a PM-CM meeting. However, “Despite a series of messages, we got no positive result or response.”

Thereafter Banerjee’s letter reveals that she did indeed meet Modi and personally hand over a report to him, and sought permission to proceed to Digha where a meeting was due and participants were waiting. “You expressly permitted us to take our leave. The matter must and ought to end there,” Banerjee had said in her letter.

However, some parts of this narrative do not match with the Centre’s version of events. The Telegraph reports that in their letter sent to Bandyopadhyay on Monday night the Centre claims, “The Prime Minister and other members of his entourage waited for nearly 15 minutes for the officers of the state government to arrive.” The Centre’s letter goes on to say, “In view of the absence, the Chief Secretary was called by an official as to whether they wanted to participate in the review meeting or not. Thereafter, Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal, arrived, along with the Chief Minister of West Bengal, inside the meeting room and left thereafter immediately.”

This clearly establishes that both Bandyopadhyay and Banerjee did indeed arrive in the meeting room, though does not mention anything about handing over of the report and skips straight to both leaving immediately, leaving the matter of seeking permission before leaving rather nebulous. However, it is hard to believe that a CM could just walk away from a PM’s meeting without his permission, and if permission to leave was indeed granted, how can the Centre still claim that they skipped the meeting?

SabrangIndia had previously reported that on May 28, the Centre had passed an order asking Alapan Bandyopadhyay to report to Delhi on May 31 by 10 A.M. The timing of the order was interesting given how Bandyopadhyay was all set to retire on May 31, but was given a three-month extension by the Centre on May 24 at the request of the state government.

The reason behind the sudden volte face was widely believed to be Banerjee and Bandyopadhyay’s alleged absence during the Kalaikunda meeting. In fact, Banerjee had addressed the elephant in the room in her letter to the PM saying, “I really and sincerely hope that this latest order is not related to my meeting with you at Kalaikunda. If that be the reason, it would be sad, unfortunate and would amount to sacrificing public interest at the altar of misplaced priorities.”

Related:

WB Chief Secy retires, becomes Mamata Banerjee’s Chief Adviser
Untenable, unprecedented and unconstitutional: Mamata Banerji on WB Chief Secy’s transfer order
 Mamata Banerjee transfers IPS, IAS officers shortly after taking oath

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What do Ramdev and Adityanath have in common?

The two saffron clad men, will now be hailed as philosophers, their books will be included in philosophy syllabus at Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut

01 Jun 2021

Image Courtesy:economictimes.indiatimes.com

Yoga teacher, businessman, televangelist, author Ramdev has a rather heavy bio-data but it still pales in comparison to that of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath, who heads both a religious congregation, as well as a state. Now the two saffron-clad men, will also be known as philosophers, the study of  whose thoughts will be included in the philosophy syllabus at the state government-run Chaudhary Charan Singh University.

The university, once known as Meerut university, will include books by Ramdev and Adityanath following a recommendation from the Uttar Pradesh government, reported The Telegraph. Uttar Pradesh  Governor Anandiben Patel is its Chancellor and  Prof. Narendra Kumar Taneja is the vice-chancellor. The university on its website describes its vision thus: 

"To produce such professionals who have global competence, vision, and skills as are necessary to meet the challenges of emerging global knowledge economy, by the power of innovation, creativity and efficient learning ability."

Now, as reported by The Telegraph, the students reading philosophy at the university will have to study by Ramdev and Adityanath as well. According to the news report the addition to the  philosophy syllabus has been recommended by the Uttar Pradesh government. A quick internet search reveals that the two men have, to their credit, books mainly on Yoga. And according to the news report, the books that have made it to the philosophy syllabus include: Ramdev’s ‘Yoga Chikitsa Rahasya’, which reportedly ‘deals with yoga’s proficiency in curing illnesses’. The other book is Hathyoga: Swaroop evam Sadhana,  authored by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath. 

University authorities told the media that the recommendations to include these books had come last week. Patanjali boss Ramdev has been in the news for over a week now after he called allopathy a “stupid science” and was countered by The Indian Medical Association (IMA). The IMA filed a police complaint in Delhi and sought that an FIR be registered against Ramdev accusing him of “illegal and dishonest intention with a view of obtaining wrongful gain and consequently causing wrongful loss to the medical fraternity and general public in large". The IMA stated that Ramdev “has committed cognizable offences and are liable to be prosecuted under all applicable and relevant provisions of the law, including Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897."

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Ajay Bisht alias Yogi Adityanath has been under fire for the spiraling Covid-19 situation in the state, and the shortage of oxygen which prompted the Allahabad High Court to observe that the death of Covid patients due to oxygen shortage was not less than genocide. The state has the highest percentage of rural population, with approximately over 15 crore people, constituting 18.62 percent of the country’s rural population, but has only 2,936 PHCs.  The Allahabad High Court criticised the affidavit submitted by the government while noting that albeit the portal showed availability of vacant beds, no hospital could offer any, “This state of affairs that we have come to know about the management of online portal created by the Government today casts shadow upon the Covid Hospital Management,” opined the court. Then there are regular reports of communal attacks in the state by cow vigilantes, or even by police themselves.

But then this is not a deterrent to the committee that recommended the two be now considered philosophers and their books included in the philosophy syllabus.  According to the TT report, Y. Vimala, pro-vice-chancellor of the university, said, “We didn’t take the decision on our own. We received a recommendation from the state government and included it in the undergraduate philosophy syllabus.” The report also quoted N.C. Lohani, Dean of Arts, who added that works by the two were added “keeping in view the need of the times.”

According to the news report, a few months ago, the university administration had its board painted saffron. A teacher at the university, who chose to remain anonymous, told the media that “asking people to practise yoga isn’t the same thing as forcing them to read the books of people with half-baked knowledge.” However, the news report added that the varsity academic panel also made sure that works by poets Bashir Badra and Kunwar Bechain of Meerut and Dushyant Kumar of Bijnore were also added to the list.

Related:

Covid-19: Which Indian states failed miserably in tackling the pandemic?
UP blunder: 20 jabbed with Covaxin after getting Covishield as first dose
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Unnao: Faisal Hussain died after head injury, had 12 contusions on body
Unnao: Teenaged Muslim vendor dies after police beating for violating Corona curfew

What do Ramdev and Adityanath have in common?

The two saffron clad men, will now be hailed as philosophers, their books will be included in philosophy syllabus at Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut

Image Courtesy:economictimes.indiatimes.com

Yoga teacher, businessman, televangelist, author Ramdev has a rather heavy bio-data but it still pales in comparison to that of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath, who heads both a religious congregation, as well as a state. Now the two saffron-clad men, will also be known as philosophers, the study of  whose thoughts will be included in the philosophy syllabus at the state government-run Chaudhary Charan Singh University.

The university, once known as Meerut university, will include books by Ramdev and Adityanath following a recommendation from the Uttar Pradesh government, reported The Telegraph. Uttar Pradesh  Governor Anandiben Patel is its Chancellor and  Prof. Narendra Kumar Taneja is the vice-chancellor. The university on its website describes its vision thus: 

"To produce such professionals who have global competence, vision, and skills as are necessary to meet the challenges of emerging global knowledge economy, by the power of innovation, creativity and efficient learning ability."

Now, as reported by The Telegraph, the students reading philosophy at the university will have to study by Ramdev and Adityanath as well. According to the news report the addition to the  philosophy syllabus has been recommended by the Uttar Pradesh government. A quick internet search reveals that the two men have, to their credit, books mainly on Yoga. And according to the news report, the books that have made it to the philosophy syllabus include: Ramdev’s ‘Yoga Chikitsa Rahasya’, which reportedly ‘deals with yoga’s proficiency in curing illnesses’. The other book is Hathyoga: Swaroop evam Sadhana,  authored by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath. 

University authorities told the media that the recommendations to include these books had come last week. Patanjali boss Ramdev has been in the news for over a week now after he called allopathy a “stupid science” and was countered by The Indian Medical Association (IMA). The IMA filed a police complaint in Delhi and sought that an FIR be registered against Ramdev accusing him of “illegal and dishonest intention with a view of obtaining wrongful gain and consequently causing wrongful loss to the medical fraternity and general public in large". The IMA stated that Ramdev “has committed cognizable offences and are liable to be prosecuted under all applicable and relevant provisions of the law, including Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897."

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Ajay Bisht alias Yogi Adityanath has been under fire for the spiraling Covid-19 situation in the state, and the shortage of oxygen which prompted the Allahabad High Court to observe that the death of Covid patients due to oxygen shortage was not less than genocide. The state has the highest percentage of rural population, with approximately over 15 crore people, constituting 18.62 percent of the country’s rural population, but has only 2,936 PHCs.  The Allahabad High Court criticised the affidavit submitted by the government while noting that albeit the portal showed availability of vacant beds, no hospital could offer any, “This state of affairs that we have come to know about the management of online portal created by the Government today casts shadow upon the Covid Hospital Management,” opined the court. Then there are regular reports of communal attacks in the state by cow vigilantes, or even by police themselves.

But then this is not a deterrent to the committee that recommended the two be now considered philosophers and their books included in the philosophy syllabus.  According to the TT report, Y. Vimala, pro-vice-chancellor of the university, said, “We didn’t take the decision on our own. We received a recommendation from the state government and included it in the undergraduate philosophy syllabus.” The report also quoted N.C. Lohani, Dean of Arts, who added that works by the two were added “keeping in view the need of the times.”

According to the news report, a few months ago, the university administration had its board painted saffron. A teacher at the university, who chose to remain anonymous, told the media that “asking people to practise yoga isn’t the same thing as forcing them to read the books of people with half-baked knowledge.” However, the news report added that the varsity academic panel also made sure that works by poets Bashir Badra and Kunwar Bechain of Meerut and Dushyant Kumar of Bijnore were also added to the list.

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WB Chief Secy retires, becomes Mamata Banerjee’s Chief Adviser

Another power move by the Bengal CM who recently crushed the BJP’s dreams of ruling Bengal by retaining power in her state via a landslide victory in the assembly elections

01 Jun 2021

Image Courtesy:morungexpress.com

West Bengal Chief Minister has secured yet another victory in her battle against the Central regime by managing to hold on to Alapan Bandyopadhyay. The Chief Secretary has now retired in accordance with his previously scheduled superannuation and Banerjee has appointed him her Chief Adviser for three years. This probably puts an end to high drama that has been ensuing over his forced transfer to Delhi.

On May 28, the Centre had passed and order asking Alapan Bandyopadhyay to report to Delhi on May 31 by 10 A.M. The timing of the order was interesting given how Bandyopadhyay was all set to retire on May 31, but was given a three-month extension by the Centre on May 24 at the request of the state government.

Banerjee told The Telegraph, “We wanted Alapan only for three months to take care of the pandemic situation, but see how they behaved…. Now I have managed to keep him for three years,” adding, “It was proven one more time that they cannot dictate to or browbeat Bengal.”

It is believed that calling Bandyopadhyay to Delhi was a move by Delhi to chastise Banerjee for raising objections to the presence of a local BJP MLA at a meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kalaikunda.

Banerjee had then written to the Prime Minister saying that she was “shocked and stunned by the unilateral order” of May 28, and that the order “came without any prior consultation with the Government of West Bengal”. Banerjee had said, “The unilateral order / directive is legally untenable, historically unprecedented and wholly unconstitutional.”

She had also addressed the elephant in the room saying, “I really and sincerely hope that this latest order is not related to my meeting with you at Kalaikunda. If that be the reason, it would be sad, unfortunate and would amount to sacrificing public interest at the altar of misplaced priorities.”

Alapan is a 1987 batch Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer and Banerjee’s latest move in retaining him is expected to inspire confidence among the state bureaucracy that she stands by her team and is not afraid of going the extra mile for them. She has displayed similar loyalty toward several top police officers in her state. In her first action after taking oath on May 5, Mamata Banerjee had transferred as many as 29 IPS officers and one IAS officer. Banerjee also brought back Virendra as Director General of Police (DGP) and Javed Shamim as Additional Director General (ADG) Law and Order. Both men had been shunted out by the Election Commission (EC).

Related:

Untenable, unprecedented and unconstitutional: Mamata Banerji on WB Chief Secy’s transfer order
 Mamata Banerjee transfers IPS, IAS officers shortly after taking oath

WB Chief Secy retires, becomes Mamata Banerjee’s Chief Adviser

Another power move by the Bengal CM who recently crushed the BJP’s dreams of ruling Bengal by retaining power in her state via a landslide victory in the assembly elections

Image Courtesy:morungexpress.com

West Bengal Chief Minister has secured yet another victory in her battle against the Central regime by managing to hold on to Alapan Bandyopadhyay. The Chief Secretary has now retired in accordance with his previously scheduled superannuation and Banerjee has appointed him her Chief Adviser for three years. This probably puts an end to high drama that has been ensuing over his forced transfer to Delhi.

On May 28, the Centre had passed and order asking Alapan Bandyopadhyay to report to Delhi on May 31 by 10 A.M. The timing of the order was interesting given how Bandyopadhyay was all set to retire on May 31, but was given a three-month extension by the Centre on May 24 at the request of the state government.

Banerjee told The Telegraph, “We wanted Alapan only for three months to take care of the pandemic situation, but see how they behaved…. Now I have managed to keep him for three years,” adding, “It was proven one more time that they cannot dictate to or browbeat Bengal.”

It is believed that calling Bandyopadhyay to Delhi was a move by Delhi to chastise Banerjee for raising objections to the presence of a local BJP MLA at a meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kalaikunda.

Banerjee had then written to the Prime Minister saying that she was “shocked and stunned by the unilateral order” of May 28, and that the order “came without any prior consultation with the Government of West Bengal”. Banerjee had said, “The unilateral order / directive is legally untenable, historically unprecedented and wholly unconstitutional.”

She had also addressed the elephant in the room saying, “I really and sincerely hope that this latest order is not related to my meeting with you at Kalaikunda. If that be the reason, it would be sad, unfortunate and would amount to sacrificing public interest at the altar of misplaced priorities.”

Alapan is a 1987 batch Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer and Banerjee’s latest move in retaining him is expected to inspire confidence among the state bureaucracy that she stands by her team and is not afraid of going the extra mile for them. She has displayed similar loyalty toward several top police officers in her state. In her first action after taking oath on May 5, Mamata Banerjee had transferred as many as 29 IPS officers and one IAS officer. Banerjee also brought back Virendra as Director General of Police (DGP) and Javed Shamim as Additional Director General (ADG) Law and Order. Both men had been shunted out by the Election Commission (EC).

Related:

Untenable, unprecedented and unconstitutional: Mamata Banerji on WB Chief Secy’s transfer order
 Mamata Banerjee transfers IPS, IAS officers shortly after taking oath

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My goal is to save lives, not vaccines: Arvind Kejriwal

In trying to taunt Delhi CM Kejriwal’s constant SoS on shortage of the Covid vaccine, Haryana's ML Khattar said vaccines should be rationed, so stocks last longer

01 Jun 2021

Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar was trying to give Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal a dose on how to manage the shortage of Covid-19 vaccines in the National Capital. However, Khattar ended up exposing that the Haryana government was in fact administering a limited number of vaccines to the people so they could apparently ‘manage’ the stocks better.

In a video clip he appeared to be reacting to the Kejriwal-led government’s regular alerts on shortage of vaccines, and suggested that the Delhi government was using up vaccine stocks too fast, and running low on it leading to the pause in administering shots to the 18-44 age group. 

He also accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who along with senior members of his team, have been talking about the shortage of vaccines almost daily, of "indulging in politics". Kejriwal replied, "My goal is not to save vaccines, it is to save lives." He said it was only the vaccine that will save lives, and the more people are vaccinated, more lives will be saved.

Khattar, on Sunday accused Kejriwal of indulging in “drama” as the latter had announced a shut down of vaccination centres due to a shortfall. However the Haryana CM’s formula to ration the vaccine to a limited number each day so it lasts longer is flawed to even a lay person. "Like other states, should we also finish all 2 lakh doses in a day? We use 50,000-60,000 doses a day. All this... Arvind Kejriwal should see. But his intention is to indulge in politics and he does that. Nobody should play politics during a pandemic," said Khattar.

Meanwhile, Kejriwal asked, “If we go at a slower pace to save the vaccines, how will we ensure vaccination for all our people to protect them from Corona?” He put the ball back in the Central government’s court and said that, states are unable to procure vaccines on their own, as manufacturers want to deal with the Centre directly. Kejriwal said, “Procurement, production, and distribution of the vaccines is the responsibility of the Central government,” whereas  administering the vaccines to the people was the state governments’ responsibility.

He also said that Delhi is also facing a low supply of injections needed to treat black fungus cases. "There are 300 cases of Black Fungus in Central government hospitals and around 650 in Delhi government hospitals. However, the supply of injections is low. We had received 1,000 injections the day before yesterday, but did not receive any injections yesterday. It takes 3-4 injections per person per day," he said. 

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Can't say you’re the Centre and you know what’s right: SC questions Centre’s vaccine strategy
Covid-19: Which Indian states failed miserably in tackling the pandemic?

My goal is to save lives, not vaccines: Arvind Kejriwal

In trying to taunt Delhi CM Kejriwal’s constant SoS on shortage of the Covid vaccine, Haryana's ML Khattar said vaccines should be rationed, so stocks last longer

Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar was trying to give Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal a dose on how to manage the shortage of Covid-19 vaccines in the National Capital. However, Khattar ended up exposing that the Haryana government was in fact administering a limited number of vaccines to the people so they could apparently ‘manage’ the stocks better.

In a video clip he appeared to be reacting to the Kejriwal-led government’s regular alerts on shortage of vaccines, and suggested that the Delhi government was using up vaccine stocks too fast, and running low on it leading to the pause in administering shots to the 18-44 age group. 

He also accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who along with senior members of his team, have been talking about the shortage of vaccines almost daily, of "indulging in politics". Kejriwal replied, "My goal is not to save vaccines, it is to save lives." He said it was only the vaccine that will save lives, and the more people are vaccinated, more lives will be saved.

Khattar, on Sunday accused Kejriwal of indulging in “drama” as the latter had announced a shut down of vaccination centres due to a shortfall. However the Haryana CM’s formula to ration the vaccine to a limited number each day so it lasts longer is flawed to even a lay person. "Like other states, should we also finish all 2 lakh doses in a day? We use 50,000-60,000 doses a day. All this... Arvind Kejriwal should see. But his intention is to indulge in politics and he does that. Nobody should play politics during a pandemic," said Khattar.

Meanwhile, Kejriwal asked, “If we go at a slower pace to save the vaccines, how will we ensure vaccination for all our people to protect them from Corona?” He put the ball back in the Central government’s court and said that, states are unable to procure vaccines on their own, as manufacturers want to deal with the Centre directly. Kejriwal said, “Procurement, production, and distribution of the vaccines is the responsibility of the Central government,” whereas  administering the vaccines to the people was the state governments’ responsibility.

He also said that Delhi is also facing a low supply of injections needed to treat black fungus cases. "There are 300 cases of Black Fungus in Central government hospitals and around 650 in Delhi government hospitals. However, the supply of injections is low. We had received 1,000 injections the day before yesterday, but did not receive any injections yesterday. It takes 3-4 injections per person per day," he said. 

Related

Can't say you’re the Centre and you know what’s right: SC questions Centre’s vaccine strategy
Covid-19: Which Indian states failed miserably in tackling the pandemic?

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Wayanad citizens demand immediate end to draconian changes in Lakshadweep

In a letter to Prime Minister Modi, environmental group members remind him how the time-tested ways of the islanders that stand to be destroyed by new laws

31 May 2021

Members of the Wayanad Prakruti Samrakshana Samiti (WPSS) in Kerala appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 25, 2021 to immediately stop all "reforms" recently introduced in Lakshadweep as they will affect the life and livelihood of the community there.

“We are a group of concerned citizens, who have been shocked since a few days with news about the happenings in Lakshadweep. We call for an urgent review of recent draconian changes that should be implemented only after a thorough consultative process. The programs being planned there should have a long-term vision that takes into consideration regional, need based, consultative approach rather than the top-bottom way being envisaged now,” said WPSS President N. Badusha in the letter, also sent to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel.

The changes referred to draft proposals such as the Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation, Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation and amendment to the Lakshadweep Panchayat Staff Rules, that did not consult people’s representatives prior to their introduction. Moreover, the severe changes in a Muslim-dominated area was seen as a discriminatory move by the ruling government.

Badusha said that various studies by credible historical, cultural and ecological institutions have proved that the stability of coral reefs that protect the islands was nurtured and maintained by the culture of the homogenous community of islanders. They built an ecosystem-based economy linked to fishing through cooperation, tolerance and mutual dependence. Yet the recent changes do not consider or respect the time-tested ways of land use, ocean resource utilisation and or livelihood options adopted by the community, said the letter.

It argued that instead of the Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021, the Planning and Development program, beef ban, etc. the government should work on access to safe and secure healthcare, education, just governance, food security and livelihood options connected to the island’s ecosystem. Such measures will work towards preserving human rights, democracy and ethnicity of the island community as envisioned in the Preamble to the Indian constitution.

“We look upon you with expectation and hope that you will intervene and set things right in the coral islands where each citizen has equal rights to options of livelihood, nutrition, land use and all other choices that hold a community together. We have much to learn from this community and let us not miss the chance and be remembered as being part of a generation that conducted a deliberate overkill of a way of life,” said the letter.

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Wayanad citizens demand immediate end to draconian changes in Lakshadweep

In a letter to Prime Minister Modi, environmental group members remind him how the time-tested ways of the islanders that stand to be destroyed by new laws

Members of the Wayanad Prakruti Samrakshana Samiti (WPSS) in Kerala appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 25, 2021 to immediately stop all "reforms" recently introduced in Lakshadweep as they will affect the life and livelihood of the community there.

“We are a group of concerned citizens, who have been shocked since a few days with news about the happenings in Lakshadweep. We call for an urgent review of recent draconian changes that should be implemented only after a thorough consultative process. The programs being planned there should have a long-term vision that takes into consideration regional, need based, consultative approach rather than the top-bottom way being envisaged now,” said WPSS President N. Badusha in the letter, also sent to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel.

The changes referred to draft proposals such as the Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation, Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation and amendment to the Lakshadweep Panchayat Staff Rules, that did not consult people’s representatives prior to their introduction. Moreover, the severe changes in a Muslim-dominated area was seen as a discriminatory move by the ruling government.

Badusha said that various studies by credible historical, cultural and ecological institutions have proved that the stability of coral reefs that protect the islands was nurtured and maintained by the culture of the homogenous community of islanders. They built an ecosystem-based economy linked to fishing through cooperation, tolerance and mutual dependence. Yet the recent changes do not consider or respect the time-tested ways of land use, ocean resource utilisation and or livelihood options adopted by the community, said the letter.

It argued that instead of the Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021, the Planning and Development program, beef ban, etc. the government should work on access to safe and secure healthcare, education, just governance, food security and livelihood options connected to the island’s ecosystem. Such measures will work towards preserving human rights, democracy and ethnicity of the island community as envisioned in the Preamble to the Indian constitution.

“We look upon you with expectation and hope that you will intervene and set things right in the coral islands where each citizen has equal rights to options of livelihood, nutrition, land use and all other choices that hold a community together. We have much to learn from this community and let us not miss the chance and be remembered as being part of a generation that conducted a deliberate overkill of a way of life,” said the letter.

Related:

Lakshadweep: Praful Khoda Patel’s proposals will destroy life of the people, warn experts
Kerala HC refuses to stay Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority 
Lakshadweep: Is Praful Khoda Patel fishing in troubled waters now?
Lakshadweep: Beef Ban, Goonda Act proposed by Administrator Praful Khoda 

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