The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday moved the top court to intervene in a PIL filed by advocate and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay seeking regulation of ‘freebies’. The plea said, “PIL petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay himself has strong links to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (‘BJP’), having served as its spokesperson and as a leader of its Delhi unit in the past. The petitioner’s frivolous petitions, instituted in the name of public interest, often inspired by this party’s political agenda, have come under this court’s criticism in the past.”
“The Petitioner herein is attempting to use the device of PIL to camouflage a thinly veiled attempt at furthering a particular political agenda. The lack of bona fide in the petitioner’s actions is only compounded by the fact that the petitioner does not, at any point in the petition, disclose his present or past ties with a particular ruling party, instead introducing himself generically as a “social political activist,” the plea added.
AAP said, “The petition, while referring vaguely to ‘freebies’, clearly seeks judicial action against a particular model of economic development by exclusively targeting fiscal expenditure on socialist and welfarist measures for the masses.”
“The petitioner, despite claiming to be concerned about the fiscal deficit, ignores the vast fiscal losses to the exchequer caused by tax rebates, subsidies, and other such ‘freebies’ routinely provided to big industries and businesses by the Centre and various state governments alike,” the plea added.
The petitioner further said, “The relief or directions sought by the petitioner does not pertain to actual fiscal restraint in governance or the actual prohibition of ‘freebies’. Rather, the relief sought pertains only to prohibiting political parties from promising such policies that may fall within the petitioner’s label of ‘freebies’, or even continuing to implement such existing policies, in the lead up to elections. The petitioner’s concern is evidently and solely with whether such policies may be advertised or promised by parties in their electoral campaigns, not with whether expenditure on such freebies is actually made by a government once elected. Once this is rendered clear, any veneer of concern with fiscal responsibility that the petition seeks to adorn is destroyed, and the petition is revealed as a transparent instance of “political interest litigation.”
“The petitioner also fails to reckon with the freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and subject to only reasonable restrictions that may be justified on grounds of “sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence. Prima facie, any restriction on electoral speech of the kind prayed for by the petitioner is not justified on any of the grounds listed above,” the plea added.
While considering Upadhyay’s petition on 3 August, a bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana remarked that no political party wants freebies to go, even as the Union Government termed such hand-outs the “road to an economic disaster” and urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) to devise ways to deal with them.
On that day, the court also indicated that it may consider setting up a panel, which can go into the issue “dispassionately” and make recommendations to the Centre and ECI, as it sought suggestions from all parties by 11 August.
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Data Protection Bill likely in next Parliament session
Indian users cannot be discriminated against the other users of WhatsApp, the Central government on Thursday told the Supreme Court saying that a new Data Protection Bill to safeguard citizens’ rights is underway and likely to be placed before Parliament in the upcoming session.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the apex court that the government has already withdrawn the old data protection Bill and a new Bill will be introduced in Parliament.
‘Taliban take over in Afghanistan has effect on J-K’
Challenges have increased manifold in Jammu and Kashmir since Taliban took over Afghanistan, CRPF DG Kuldeep Singh said in a statement a day before his retirement from service.
“The challenges have increased and it is now seen”, there in Jammu and Kashmir with inputs of sometime an increase in the number of foreign terrorists and later a little bit decrease in the number.
Singh, however, clarified that the number of terrorists in current period is very low. “The number of terrorists (active) is below 200 which used to be 240 at some time.”
The CRPF DG said the number of the terrorists are both from abroad and locals as well.
“In last few years, there is a trend that the number of terrorists, both foreign and locals, used to be 230-240. But the number has now remained below 200 as many of them are neutralised time to time by security forces,” Singh further said.
Meanwhile, he expected it cannot be denied that there is no challenge in Jammu and Kashmir.
In his farewell speech, the DG also mentioned that CRPF is entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding the internal security of the country and that it is deployed across the length and breadth of the country for assisting State Police and Civil Administration in discharge of their duties.
He also informed that the CRPF also provides protection to 119 dignitaries out of which 18 are in Z Plus and 27 are in Z category
“The Force now has 246 Battalions (BNs) of which 202 are GD (Ground Futy) BNs, six VIP Security, six Mahila, 15 RAF, 10 CoBRA, five signal, and one each of PDG and SDG. The Force also has 43 Group Centers, four 100 bedded Composite Hospitals,” Singh said.
He pointed out how the Naxal activities have been contained to a very large extent in the left Wing Extremism affected areas.
“There is a discernible improvement in the situation and the areas which were earlier considered to be the stronghold of Maoists are now free of their influence and dominated by Security Forces,” Singh said, adding “the force played a key role in making the state of Bihar Maoist free.”
“Maoists have been pushed out of Chakarbandha and Bheembandh area, and now Bihar has become virtually Maoists free.”
China’s slogan ‘respecting territorial integrity’ draws global criticism
China’s statement at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that “territorial integrity” of all the countries should be respected has drawn sharp criticism from India and various other global quarters.
Taking a dig at Beijing, Indian diplomats here say that China must practice what it is preaching at the UNSC. “While the Xi regime is involved in all sorts of illegal conducts along the Line of Actual Control, disrespecting various written pacts on maintaining peace in the border region, Beijing’s remark underlining the need to respect territorial integrity and sovereignty of other nations is devoid of any seriousness,” point out diplomats.
Sources told The Daily Guardian that envoys of various other countries at the UN including Australia, Japan, US, UK, Germany and France were also critical of the Chinese envoy’s remark as the country’s action has always been at variance with what it was preaching at the UNSC in terms of territorial integrity and sovereignty of other nations.
In fact, China’s Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun told a Security Council meeting, “Our position and proposition on how to view and handle the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. That is, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected.” Analysing the statement of the Chinese ambassador, diplomats say that Zhang may have made these remarks in the perspective of the Ukraine situation, but the global community expects Beijing to walk the talk in the first place, which is not possible for it to do. China’s LAC misdeeds and its aggression in the Indo-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region are known to the entire world, says a diplomat. Sources told TDG that the Chinese envoy was given a message about the reaction of the global community after he came out of the UNSC meeting. China wants the global community to interpret its envoy’s statement as a message for Russia, but the other part of the statement from Beijing’s representative at UNSC brought to the fore China’s real feeling about the West. Zhang said that isolation and sanctions would only “lead to a dead end” after the United States called for the body to condemn Russia’s referendums in occupied regions of Ukraine. China was prominently and elaborately discussed during the talks between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Tuesday. Beijing’s misconduct on LAC also figured during the talks, sources said.
Mandatory 6 airbags in cars from October next year
Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari approved the proposal mandating a minimum of 6 airbags in passenger cars and said the new rule will come into effect from 1 October 2023.
In a series of tweets Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said the safety of all passengers travelling in motor vehicles irrespective of their cost and variants is the foremost priority. “Considering the global supply chain constraints being faced by the auto industry and its impact on the macroeconomic scenario, it has been decided to implement the proposal mandating a minimum of 6 Airbags in Passenger Cars (M-1 Category) w.e.f 01st October 2023,” tweeted Gadkari.
Earlier in order to enhance the safety of occupants of the motor vehicle against lateral impact, it had been decided to enhance safety features by amending the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR), 1989.
A draft notification had been issued on 14 January 2022.
“ The draft mandated that vehicles of category M1, manufactured after 1st October 2022, shall be fitted with two side/side torso airbags, one each for the persons occupying front row outboard seating positions, and two side curtain/tube airbags, one each for the persons occupying outboard seating positions,” read a statement by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
India-US relationship impacts rest of world: Jaishankar
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during a press briefing on Wednesday said that the relationship between India and US today impacts the rest of the world as there are a lot of countries which look to the association individually and bilaterally and hope for solutions which the world is searching for in many aspects.
“I think our relationship today impacts the rest of the world. There are a lot of countries which look to us individually and bilaterally for some part of the betterment which they hope for solutions which the world is searching for in many respects,” Jaishankar said during the press briefing. Referring to the bilateral consultations between the two countries as solid, positive and productive, Jaishankar underscored that the visit was very comfortable and he had some very good conversations with the Ministers in the US.
He further added that the bilateral conversations were framed under the pretext of larger global challenges and there was a very high degree of convergence as the priorities of India and the US, at times, have been different.
“That’s the sort of broad sense that I want to give you of a very solid, positive, productive bilateral conversation but framed in the context of larger global challenges where there was a very high degree of convergence on how we look at those challenges, we may articulate it a bit differently as we are oppositions and our priorities at some times will be different,” Jaishankar said in a statement during the briefing.
Describing the Washington visit as a comfortable one, the External Affairs Minister underscored that both the nations understand on how to make space for each other and work despite not entirely agreeing on every aspect of every issue. “The good part of the relationship is today that we understand that we have to make space for each other and that we can work with each other even if we do not entirely agree on every aspect of every issue,” said Jaishankar.
‘PFI had plans to turn India into Islamic nation by 2047, RSS, BJP leaders were on radar’
Emphasizing the urgent need to ban the Popular Front of India (PFI), Maharashtra ATS chief Vineet Agarwal on Thursday said that the outfit was planning to turn India into an Islamic nation by 2047 and big leaders of the country including from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were their target.
Agarwal said that it was very important to ban PFI because they were slow poison for the country. “PFI was banned in time. Maharashtra ATS raided many places and arrested a total of 21 people and many electronic gadgets were also confiscated. Post the ban the organisation has been dissolved. Now, they don’t have any right to regroup or protest on any platform except on the legal platform,” said the ATS chief.
Agarwal said that the big leaders of the country and the people of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were on the target of PFI.
He further said that the PFI members used to portray themselves as persons associated with social development and physical education to give lectures to incite people. “PFI had opened training centers in many places of the state and used to do anti-national work. PFI used to tell people in their coaching center by referring to old videos and incidents that your people have been subjected to a lot of atrocities, Mughals will not come to save you, you have to save yourself. PFI used to tell participants to keep items for self-defence like stones, knives, swords, bricks, sharp objects and other things on their terraces,” he said.
The ATS Chief said that till now more than 2,000 people were trained in Maharashtra.
“We are using tools to recover their data, they had planned to make India an Islamic country by 2047 by motivating people to commit hate crimes when India will complete 100 years of independence, but the government’s decision has toppled their plan. Every 5 years an agenda was prepared for the same but they have been stopped in the middle and the right steps have been taken,” said Agarwal.
“Target killing was their modus operandi by identifying the target,” he added.
He further said that the ATS has also seized the bank accounts of the arrested PFI members and terror funding is also being investigated.
“There are lakhs of rupees in the seized bank accounts of the PFI members and the money was being spent in the name of the outfit. After verifying the information from where the money was coming into the PFI fund, the ATS came to know that the money was coming from different places,” he added.
Earlier, Maharashtra Home Department has issued an order using powers under Section 42 of UAPA authorizing the Police commissioners and District magistrates to exercise their powers against the PFI.
The move comes a day after the Union Home Ministry imposed a ban on the Popular Front of India for “terror links”. Other states including Kerala and Tamil Nadu have passed such orders declaring the PFI as an unlawful association.
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