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Delhi HC facilitates school admission

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Delhi HC

While emerging as a very strong voice for the voiceless, the Delhi High Court in an extremely laudable, learned, landmark and latest judgment titled Kamini Arya Through Perokar vs The State NCT Of Delhi in Bail Appln. 2165/2022 pronounced as recently as on August 3, 2022 has taken suo motu cognizance to facilitate admission of an 8 year old child to school which could not be facilitated for the reason that her parents were in judicial custody in a murder case since July 2021. It must be mentioned here that the Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Ms Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma minced just no words to espouse child’s cause while observing that, “The court is of the opinion that the child must get admitted in a school at the earliest so that shadow of no unpleasant happening falls upon the child’s life to darken her future.” It is also most pleasing to learn that the Delhi High Court in this notable case made it absolutely clear that the child, being an individual Indian citizen, enjoyed the Fundamental Rights including the Right to Education and that the welfare of child should not only be considered in cases dealing with family disputes but also like the present one.

At the outset, this most commendable, cogent, courageous, composed and convincing judgment authored by the Single Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Ms Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma sets the ball rolling most promptly by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 itself that, “The present application has been filed by the petitioner seeking interim bail for two weeks in FIR No. 323/21 registered at P.S. Mohan Garden under sections 302/365/292/397/411/120-B/201 & 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’). The petitioner and her husband, who is the co-accused in the aforementioned FIR, have been in judicial custody since 11.07.2021. The application has been moved by the mother of the child on the ground that she is concerned about the admission in a school of her child, who is about 8 years of age. It is stated that without her presence, she cannot be admitted in any school.”

No doubt, the grounds forwarded by the mother of the child are bona fide and worth considering seriously by the Court. The child is just about 8 years of age and so definitely the mother’s presence is inevitable to get the child admitted to school. This was considered seriously also by the Court!

To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages in para 2 that, “The interim bail application of the petitioner has been dismissed by the ld. ASJ, Dwarka Court, vide order dated 21.05.2022 wherein the ld. ASJ opined that the ground on which the petitioner has approached the court for bail, i.e. getting her daughters admitted to school, is not of such a nature which can be termed as a compelling circumstance or intolerable grief. The application was thus dismissed by the ld. ASJ.”

As it turned out, the Bench then points out in para 3 that, “The court is informed by the learned counsel for the applicant that the elder sibling of the child is studying in the secondary school branch of Co-Ed Pry. School, West Zone, New Delhi – 110059. It is prayed that the child in the present case may be admitted in Nursery Class in the aforementioned school.”

As we see, the Bench then discloses in para 4 that, “In the present case, it has come to notice of the court that the applicant, i.e. the mother of the minor child, is in judicial custody due to her alleged involvement in the murder of an old lady whose body parts were severed and disposed of in a drain.”

As things stand, the Bench then brings out in para 5 that, “During the course of arguments on the bail application a query was put forth by this court and the court was informed that the presence of the applicant/mother is not required for admission of the child in the school and the Aadhaar Card of the mother shall suffice. The same has been duly verified by the Investigating Officer (IO) who has filed a reply from the Principal of SDMC, Co-Ed Pry. School, West Zone, New Delhi – 110059, wherein it is stated that the child’s admission can be done without the Aadhaar Card if the child has a certificate bearing the child’s date of birth from any government institution. It is further stated that any local guardian of the child can also get him/her admitted in school.”

While unequivocally underscoring the huge importance of education in a child’s life, the Bench then opines in para 6 that, “In my opinion, education is the first step towards tackling social evils, especially poverty, inequality and discrimination. Every child, irrespective of caste, religion, sex, or economic background has been guaranteed right to education. An educated individual can make informed decisions, first for themselves, and then be able to contribute constructively towards the progress of the nation and society at large.”

While sending out the most simple, straightforward and strong message to all the Judges, the Bench then mandates in no uncertain terms in para 7 that, “Once it comes to the notice of the court that a child or an individual is deprived of a fundamental right, the courts have to ensure that the fundamental right is enforced and there is no impediment for any individual to enjoy the same. The court should not fail in its duty at any point of time in this regard.”

Most remarkably, the Bench then further adds in para 8 that, “Right to Education is a fundamental right guaranteed to every citizen under Article 21-A of the Constitution. A child must not suffer the consequences, on account of their parents having been in judicial custody for a crime which is yet to be adjudicated upon by the court. This court is duty bound to enforce fundamental rights of every citizen and in this case right to education of the child.”

Most forthrightly, the Bench then also unambiguously maintained in para 9 that, “The Constitution guarantees protection of independent identity and individuality to every Indian citizen. Constitution of India is the supreme law of the land and this court is bound to protect the rights of every individual enshrined and guaranteed by the same. Especially in the present case, where the right to education of a child is at stake, it is imperative that the court intervenes timely and upholds the right envisaged in the Constitution to protect the future of the child.”

Needless to say, the Bench then notes clearly in para 10 that, “This court is of the opinion that the child must get admitted in a school at the earliest so that shadow of no unpleasant happening falls upon the child’s life to darken her future.”

Most significantly, the Bench then state in para 11 what constitutes the cornerstone of this learned judgment that, “At the cost of repetition, it is opined that in the present case, the child is an individual Indian citizen and enjoys her own Fundamental Rights given to her by virtue of her being born in India, Right to Education is the child’s fundamental right. In the present unpleasant situation of the case, the court has to become the voice of the voiceless child. The parents are in judicial custody and the prime concern of the parents is education of the child. It is not only in cases dealing with family disputes that the rights and welfare of the child should be considered but also in the cases as the present one, the courts can become and act as the parent of the child and ensure that the child is not deprived of its Fundamental Right to Education. Depriving any child of education due to family circumstances should not be allowed to every extent possible. An educated child educates the entire family and becomes an asset to the nation.”

Quite forthrightly, the Bench then directs in para 12 that, “In the circumstances, at this stage, this court feels the need to exercise its discretionary powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and take suo-motu cognizance to facilitate the child’s admission in a school so that the child does not lose out on the current academic year i.e. 2022-23. It is therefore directed that the SHO concerned will get the child admitted to the school adjacent to the senior branch of the school in which the older sibling of the child is already enrolled and pursuing her education.”

Furthermore, the Bench then lays down in para 13 that, “The Principal of the school will extend full cooperation for the admission of the child. A compliance report will be filed within 10 days. The identity of the child and the school in question is not being mentioned in this order to protect the privacy and dignity of the child.”

What’s more, the Bench then aptly points out in para 14 that, “It is submitted by the counsel for the petitioner that the petitioner is satisfied with the relief that has been granted. Considering the petitioner was seeking bail only on the ground that she needed to fulfil her responsibilities as a parent and get her child admitted to school, permission is now sought by the counsel of the petitioner to withdraw the present application.”

As a corollary, the Bench then reveals in para 15 that, “In view of this order, the learned counsel for the applicant states that she is satisfied with the order and does not press her application at this stage. Permission is sought to withdraw the same.”

In this context, the Bench then quite ostensibly directs in para 16 that, “In terms of the above, the application is dismissed as withdrawn.” Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in final para 17 that, “Ordered accordingly.”

All told, it definitely merits no reiteration that all the courts must in similar such cases emulate what the Single Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Ms Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma of Delhi High Court has laid down so elegantly, eloquently and effectively in this noteworthy case! In essence, the Courts must definitely become the voice of the voiceless as we see so very ostensibly in this leading case. It also must be definitely underscored that the Courts must also prima facie ensure that the process itself does not become the punishment due to which the long term interest of the child gets jeopardised. No doubt, we saw how in this case the Delhi High Court so very commendably took suo motu cognizance to facilitate the school admission of the child whose parents are in custody and thus ensured that the paramount interest of the child to education is safely protected. Of course, it must be said that this is definitely the best way in which ideally all the Courts in our country must always act and not just turn away their face citing process, procedure etc! There can be certainly just no denying or disputing it!

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Policy & Politics

India today aspires to take our ranking in the GII Index to the top 25: Piyush Goyal

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Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal said that India had come a long way in the Global Innovation Index (GII) from the 81st spot in 2015 to the 40th spot in 2022 today. ‘We were 46 last time the ranking was done. We have also maintained 1st rank in ICT services exports over the years’ he added. Shri Goyal was delivering a virtual message to mark the launch of the Global Innovation Index, 2022 by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
The Minister said that GII has established itself as a tool for Governments across the world to reflect upon policies and their impact. “GII has over the years recognized India’s continuous rise due to the progressive measures taken by the government and industry working hand in hand”, he added. He also expressed his gratitude to WIPO on behalf of 1.3 billion Indians and said that India today aspires to take our ranking in the GII Index amongst top 25, he said.
India Innovating Like Never Before!
India climbs to the 40th rank in the Global Innovation Index of @WIPO, a huge leap of 41 places in 7 years.
The steady rise testifies that India under the leadership of PM @NarendraModi ji is rapidly emerging as the global innovation hub. pic.twitter.com/pltqW8kdUh
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) September 29, 2022
Goyal said that Innovation has been a catalytic force for the economy and society. “Though innovation implies novelty, it is also rooted in tradition for us in India. Ancient scientific knowledge including the Vedas and traditional medicine are a testament to India’s innovative spirit”, he added.
The Minister said that India had established the first of its kind Global Centre for Traditional Medicines in collaboration with the WHO, representing India’s ancient scientific prowess.
Goyal said that as the importance of the ‘knowledge economy’ grows, innovation will lay the roadmap for development in India. “We have been working to strengthen Research & Development across sectors as amplified by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s clarion call to make innovation our nation’s mission”, he added.
The Minister noted that agility, enthusiasm and energy of our youth are powering the start-up ecosystem. He observed that India today the 3rd largest start-up ecosystem and is home to over a 100 unicorns. “Start up revolution has spread across India. Over half the start-ups are from remote small towns”, he said.
Goyal opined that incubation, handholding, funding, industry-academia partnership and mentorship have stirred entrepreneurial spirit across the country. He said that India had embarked on the ‘Digital India’ journey in 2015 and have set up a goal of a trillion-dollar digital economy in the next few years. “Digitization of Government initiatives and public services has been our continuous focus”, he observed.
The Minister outlined several areas in which digital technologies are employed from mapping capital assets using GIS technology to revolutionizing payments through UPI. In fact, 40% of global real-time digital transactions happened in India last year, he underscored. “To further strengthen innovation, we have introduced the National Education Policy, which promotes the spirit of enquiry by setting up incubation & technology development centers. With over 9000 Atal Tinkering Labs, we encourage youth to develop solutions to society’s problems”, he added.
Shri Goyal also stressed that India has taken up structural reforms to strengthen its IPR regime including modernization of IP office, reducing legal compliances and facilitating IP filing for start-ups, women entrepreneurs, the small industries and others. “Domestic filing of Patents registered a 46% growth in the last 5 years. We are now transitioning to a knowledge-based economy”

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THE TRAGIC DEATH OF LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI AND THE MYSTIFYING NETAJI SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE ANGLE

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The unimpeachably honest 5 feet 2 inches tall mighty second Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri was born on 2nd October, 1904 in Mughalsarai, officially known as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Nagar, a small but bustling railway town close to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Shastri’s birthday happily coincides with that of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi. On the auspicious occasion of his 117th birthday in 2021, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi twittered his personal homage, ‘Tributes to former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri ji on his birth anniversary. His life based on values and principles will always remain a source of inspiration for the countrymen’ Significantly, Shastri coined the eternally electrifying seminal slogan ‘Jai Jawan! Jai Kisan!’ and fathered the “Green Revolution” (the agrarian movement that catapulted India to self-sufficiency in foodgrain production enabling it to achieve a record level of over 300 million tonnes in 2021-2022!) as well as the ‘White Revolution’ (the national campaign to increase the production of milk that eventually culminated in India becoming the largest milk producer in the world with a staggering output of over 200 million metric tons in 2021-22!).
On 11th January, 1966, a date which will live in infamy as one of the darkest days in India’s chequered history, this proud and noble son of India was unexpectedly snatched away from our midst by the cruel hand of death barely one and a half years after his taking over as the Prime Minister under the most mysterious circumstances. This tragic death took place in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan (the ‘City of Stones’ that was to be literally reduced to rubble by an earth shattering earthquake on 26th April, 1966!), after Shastri had signed the historic Tashkent Declaration with the Pakistani President Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan, with the Soviet Premier Alexei Nikolayevich Kosygin acting as the peace mediator, that brought the curtain down on the fierce seventeen day 1965 Indo-Pakistan war.

Prior to his demise, Shastri looked superbly agile and brimming with boundless energy. Following the signing of the Declaration at 4 p.m. and a grand reception at 8 p.m. hosted by Kosygin, Shastri returned to his ‘dacha’ around 10 p.m. He instructed his faithful personal valet Ram Nath to fetch his dinner which turned out to be a light meal comprising spinach, potatoes and curry specially prepared by Jan Mohammed, the personal chef of the Indian Ambassador Triloki Nath ‘Tikki’ Kaul. At 11.30 p.m., Nath gave Shastri a glass of milk. Shastri asked Nath to retire to his room and snatch some sleep as he had to catch a flight the very next morning to Kabul where he was scheduled to meet the ‘Frontier Gandhi’ Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. At 1.25 a.m., Shastri was afflicted by a sudden bout of convulsive coughing. He staggered out from his suite and asked his Personal Assistant J.N.Sahai, ‘Where is Doctor Sahib?’ Sahai immediately rushed to summon Shastri’s personal physician Dr.R.N.Chugh who had accompanied him to Tashkent. A Personal Assistant M.M.N.Sharma placed Shastri’s head on his lap, whereupon Shastri kept pointing suggestively to a thermos flask containing water placed on the dressing table. Dr.Chugh arrived to find Shastri in a most critical condition. He made frantic efforts to revive Shastri, but in vain. A team of Russian doctors also arrived on the scene, but by then Shastri’s pulse had stopped, his heart was silent and he was bereft of his breath and corneal reflexes. The veteran Indian journalist and my late father’s close friend Kuldip Nayar recorded later, ‘In a corner of the room, however, on a dressing table, there was an overturned thermos flask. It appeared that Shastri had struggled to open it.’ Russia’s leading news agency TASS issued a terse message, ‘The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and the Council of Ministers of the USSR is sad to notice that 11 Jan, 1966 in 1 hour and 32 minutes in Tashkent died a distinguished statesman, Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri.’ In 2009, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs revealed that no ‘post mortem was conducted by the authorities of the former USSR’. The solitary available record emanated from the joint medical investigation conducted by Dr.Chugh and some Russian doctors and attributed Shastri’s death to ‘an acute attack of INFARKTMIOCARDIA’. Akhmed Sattarov, the Uzbek butler assigned to Shastri, was summarily arrested and handcuffed, subjected to an excruciating interrogation and eventually let off the hook by the Ninth Directorate of the dreaded ‘Committee for State Security’, better known as the ‘KGB’. It is not known whether Jan Mohammed, who effortlessly joined the Rashtrapati Bhavan staff in Delhi subsequent to Kaul becoming India’s Foreign Secretary, was also interrogated.
When Shastri’s body was brought home to 1, Janpath in Delhi, his mother Ramdulari Devi noticed that his face had turned blue and rigid with white patches and shrieked, ‘Mere bitwa ko jahar de diya!’ (‘My son has been poisoned!’).Thereafter, Shastri’s family spearheaded by his wife Lalita Shastri, emphatically alleged that he was poisoned because his face and neck had turned dark blue and there were fresh incision marks on his abdomen. The prodigious Barrister and my legal Guru Asoke Sen, who was the Union Law Minister in Shastri’s Cabinet, also observed clearly discernible blue patches on Shastri’s body much to his consternation. In February, 1966, the issue of Shastri’s death was raised for the first time in the Indian Parliament. In April,1970, Shastri’s childhood friend Tribhuvan Narain Singh (the former Governor of West Bengal who was personally known to me), demanded a comprehensive enquiry into his death as he had not been autopsied. The maiden inquiry into Shastri’s death was conducted by the Raj Narain Inquiry Committee in 1977 which proved to be utterly abortive and lamentably not a trace of the inquiry survives even in the archives of Parliament House. An epic Hindi poetry book titled ‘Lalita Ke Aansoo’(‘Tears of Lalita’) penned by the celebrated Indian poet and writer Dr. Krant M. L.Verma was published in 1978 containing a narrative of the Tashkent whodunit. In response to a RTI by the celebrated writer and journalist Anuj Dhar, the Indian Prime Minister’s Office in 2009 glibly admitted that it had one document relating to Shastri’s death which could not be declassified for security reasons. Not so very long ago, I had a prolonged, animated tête-à-tête in the Delhi Gymkhana Club with my dear friend and popular Kisan leader Sanjay Nath Singh (the elder son of Shastri’s second daughter Suman Singh who was around 9 years old at the time of Shastri’s demise).Giving a rare insight into Shastri’s death, Sanjay told me in chaste Hindi, ‘Amma (his grandmother) invariably travelled with Babuji (Shastri) on his overseas trips, but this time she did not travel with him. In fact, Amma and Anil Mama (maternal uncle) were supposed to have travelled with Babuji to Tashkent, but at the last minute their trip was cancelled by Babuji. Babuji was to be booked at a hotel in Tashkent. But, he was put up in a dacha far away from the venue of the conference. His suite did not have any telephone, buzzer or teleprinter. When his body reached Delhi, blood was oozing from his mouth and nostrils. There were fresh cuts on his abdomen which had been strapped with adhesive tape bandage. Amma dipped her fingers into a bowl of ghee and smeared ghee on Babuji’s lips. When she put her fingers back into the bowl, the ghee turned dark blue and became hard. Babuji’s personal diary as well as his ‘Action Plans’ diary went missing. Babuji’s spectacle case came back to Delhi along with his body. Rummaging inside the spectacle case, Amma stumbled across a minute strip of paper containing Babuji’s last hastily scribbled message which visibly shocked her.’ Shastri’s third son Sunil Shastri, another close friend of mine, had earlier told me about the spectacle case which had ‘miraculously’ escaped the scrutiny of his father’s detractors and had reached his mother’s safe hands. What adds grist to the rumour mill is the fact that Dr.Chugh met with a fatal road accident on 5th February,1977. In a spine chilling judgement of the Delhi High Court dated 11th February,2004, Justice Madan Bhimrao Lokur (an old friend from my college days and a former judge of the Supreme Court of India), observed, ‘On 5th March, 1977, a horrific accident took place between a truck driven by Wasan Singh and a car driven by Dr. R.N. Chugh…Dr. R.N. Chugh and his wife Dr. (Mrs.) Sarojni Chugh and their minor son Master Shailender Chugh died. Their daughter Ms. Shobha Chugh..received grievous injuries on her head and other parts of her body.As a result of the injuries, she is facially permanently scarred, her memory was affected and her concentration impaired.’ On 6th March,1997, Ram Nath, whilst astride a bicycle was hit by a speeding bus. Both his legs were crushed, necessitating amputation, and he became mentally unstable. Both of them were on the verge of deposing before the Inquiry Committee!

Startingly, there is a mystifying Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose angle to the whole episode. Shastri was an indefatigable champion of Netaji. Jagdish Kodesia, a former Delhi Congress chief and a confidante of Shastri, appeared before the Khosla Commission in March, 1971 as a witness. He deposed that Shastri did not believe in Netaji’s death in a plane crash and went on to assert, ‘When he became Home Minister, he wanted to know the truth whether Subhas Bose was alive or not.’ Shastri also showed a deep interest in the antecedents of Gumnami Baba of Faizabad who was rumoured to be Netaji. It is widely believed that Netaji was present at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s funeral on 27th May,1964 at Teen Murti Bhavan dressed as a monk. According to Capt. Ajit Vadakayil, the well known blogger, Netaji came in a taxi and sent an envelope to Shastri whereupon Shastri came running out to meet him. Then Shastri and Netaji went inside Teen Murti Bhavan. Netaji took out a package, stood beside Nehru’s body and offered a giant garland of roses with an attached note saying ‘Another name of Jawaharlal Nehru is courage. Let us confront the crisis of our nation for the future of India’. The note was undersigned as ‘Subhas Chandra Bose’. After Shastri became the Prime Minister, 80 Members of Parliament visited him and proclaimed that the monk was none other than Netaji without any shadow of doubt! Shastri decided to set up a second inquiry commission to investigate the mystery behind Netaji’s death.

In 1965, Shastri was invited to unveil Netaji’s statue on the occasion of his 68th birth anniversary on 23rd January,1966 at Mayo Road in Kolkata. For some inexplicable reason, Shastri preponed the ceremony and unveiled the statue in December,1965, three weeks prior to his Tashkent visit. Netaji’s nephew Amiya Nath Bose, the eminent lawyer and parliamentarian, who happened to be at the ceremony requested Shastri to probe into the circumstances relating to Netaji’s death whereupon Shastri assured him that he would personally pursue the matter in Russia. Bose was extremely close to our family. After my father retired from government service in 1966 shortly after Shastri’s death, we stayed for a few months at his 10, South Avenue flat. During those days, he used to regale us with his personal reminiscences of the intense relationship that existed between Shastri and Netaji and was never tired of telling us about the Mayo Road ceremony. In 1976, I joined the legal profession and became a member of the Bar Library Club within the majestic confines of the Calcutta High Court in 1991. Bose, who used to come infrequently to the High Court, most graciously allowed me to sit on his hand crafted Elizabethan chair in the Library which fortuitously happened to be right next to the chair of Asoke Sen. After his death, the chair was permanently allotted to me prompting Sen to remark in a jocular vein, ‘The chair moves from Bose to Bose!’ I continue to occupy that chair to this day with a sense of immense pride.
On 12th December,2015, the Times of India added an intriguing twist to the whole matter by divulging that a forensic face-mapping report submitted by a British expert Neil Miller had found a strong resemblance between Netaji and a man photographed in Tashkent. According to Miller, the face mapping of the mystery man seen in Tashkent ‘lends support leaning on strong support to the contention that the person seen in the picture and Subhas Chandra Bose are one and the same person.’ Shastri had made a call before his death to his family members. In a moment of helpless nostalgia, Sanjay, who was standing right beside the telephone, vividly recalled, ‘Amma first spoke to Babuji but could hardly hear his voice. Then Hari Mama (Shastri’s eldest son) exchanged a few words with him. Lastly, Ramji (his father Vijay Nath Singh) spoke to Babuji who asked him about the reaction in India to the Declaration. When Ramji told him that certain prominent opposition leaders were planning to hold a black flag demonstration against him for having returned Haji Pir Pass, Babuji clearly told him that he would bring forth such a thing that would make his countrymen forget about the return of the Pass and any criticism about the Declaration. He was alluding to Netaji! Within a fraction of minutes, we got a call saying Babuji had taken ill. This was followed by another call after 10 minutes announcing his death.’ On 16th August,2015, Sunil disclosed on Zee 24 Ghanta that his father told him shortly before his death about a ‘special person’ he was going to meet. Was this ‘special person’ Netaji? Was Shastri planning to present Netaji before his countrymen on the occasion of Netaji’s 69th birthday on 23rd January,1966? Did he intend to invite Netaji as the Chief Guest to the Republic Day parade on 26th January,1966? Was he going to abdicate in favour of Netaji? These questions will perhaps remain inscrutable.
The uncanny circumstances surrounding Shastri’s death have received wide and extensive coverage in India and even beyond its frontiers, thanks to the bold and tell-all revelations made in the National Film Award winning ‘crowd sourced’ thriller film ‘The Tashkent Files’ written and directed by the noted film director and screenwriter Vivek Agnihotri, who is a member on the board of India’s Central Board of Film Certification and a cultural representative of Indian Cinema at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Interestingly, Sanjay was the guiding spirit behind the film and had been specially interviewed in the film itself by Agnihotri.
Last but not the least, there is an imperative need to declassify the files relating to Shastri’s death in the national interest to clear the air once and for all on the factual plane. In fact, Shastri’s second son Anil Shastri made an impassioned plea for such declassification as far back as on 22nd June, 2018 at a solemn function to mark the release of a Punjabi translation of the bestseller ‘Lal Bahadur Shastri: Lessons in Leadership’ by the well known writer Pavan Choudary. The time has now inevitably arrived for Modi to step in readily and play the role of the crusader in baring all for posterity’s sake. I shall leave it at that for the present moment!

(The author is an internationally reputed senior lawyer practising in the Supreme Court of India and various High Courts and Tribunals in India)

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Sashi Tharoor to file nomination tomorrow for party’s top post

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His office announced on Thursday that Congress MP Shashi Tharoor will file his papers for the AICC presidential elections on Friday at 12:15 p.m. at 24 Akbar Road in New Delhi. At 1 pm, Tharoor will host a press conference at his official residence as well.

Tharoor is now thought to be the front-runner for the Congress’ top post after Rajasthan’s chief minister, Ashok Gehlot, on Thursday decided to withdraw from the race. Digvijaya Singh, a senior Congress leader, is expected to submit his nomination for the position of Congress president on Friday, making it difficult for him to win the election.

On Thursday, Singh met with Tharoor, who said they agreed that theirs is “not a battle between rivals but a friendly contest” among colleagues.

After collecting nomination papers for the polls, Singh met the party MP from Thiruvananthapuram. “I received a visit from Digvijaya Singh this afternoon. I welcome his candidacy for the Presidency of our Party,” Tharoor said in a tweet.

“We both agreed that ours is not a battle between rivals but a friendly contest among colleagues. All we both want is that whoever prevails, @incIndia will win!” he said.

On October 17, voting for the position will begin, and on October 19, the results will be announced.

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After re-elected as SP chief, Akhilesh Yadav calls for BJP’s removal from power

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Akhilesh Yadav, the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, asked voters on Thursday to assist the Samajwadi Party (SP) become a national party in the following five years by removing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from power in the national elections of 2024.

He said the people voted for the SP in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls but the BJP snatched away their government and installed its own with malpractices and misuse of the official machinery. “They did this because the exit from Uttar Pradesh would have meant the exit of the government from the Centre as well. That is why they did all that they could.”

He added the Election Commission of India (ECI), an institution they had the highest faith in, also let them down. “The ECI sided with the booth in charges of the BJP. That is why now we have to become very strong at the booth level.”

He vowed to carry on the fight against the BJP regimes in the state and at the central level, even if it meant overcrowding jails. He claimed that the institutions had been taken over by the governments in Delhi and Lucknow, putting democracy and the Constitution in danger.

“[We] do not fear struggle,” said Yadav at the party’s national convention in Lucknow after he was declared the SP national president unopposed.

Yadav highlighted the solidarity among socialists and Dalits, who are enlisting in the SP in significant numbers. He referred the BJP officials as propagandists and liars.

“As we are celebrating Navratis…let us make a prayer to Goddess Durga that the BJP leaders stop lying…Farmers are distressed, but maximum loan waivers were given to Gujarat businessmen…Industries are being taken to Gujarat. Why not to the state [Uttar Pradesh], which gave maximum seats to BJP and helped it form the government at the Centre twice?”

The former chief minister was the only nominee and was chosen to lead the SP for a period of five years, according to SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav. Naresh Uttam Patel was re-elected as president of the Uttar Pradesh SP on Wednesday.

Akhilesh Yadav thanked the party for the trust it has shown in him. “It is not just a post, but a great responsibility. I assure you that for the responsibility that you have given me, even if I have to devote every day of life and every moment to work and struggle, I will.”

He said the SP founder and his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, always wanted it to become a national party. “…we tried and did a lot of hard work to do that…”

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Ahead of Gujarat polls, PM Modi on two-day Gujarat visit from today

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PM Narendra Modi

On his two-day visit to his native Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch and lay the foundation stones for initiatives worth about $29,000 crore in Surat, Bhavnagar, Ahmedabad, and Ambaji. On Thursday, he will also be present at the 36th National Games’ opening ceremony.

He will inaugurate the first phase of a metro rail project in Ahmedabad. He will lay the foundation stones for and dedicate more than 3,400 crore worth of projects in Surat, including those for the city’s biodiversity park, Diamond Research and Mercantile City, and water supply. Additionally, Khoj Museum in Surat’s Science Center will be inaugurated by Modi.

He will dedicate the World’s First CNG Terminal in Bhavnagar, which will be built at a cost of more than Rs. 4,000 crore.

On Friday, Modi will inaugurate the Gandhinagar-Mumbai Vande Bharat Express in Gandhinagar. He will also attend the Navratri festivities in Ahmedabad. He will board the train at Ahmedabad’s Kalupur Railway Station.

Elections in Gujarat are scheduled for this year. With a focus on health and education, the Aam Aadmi Party has been attempting to gain ground in the state.

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Gehlot expects to meet Sonia Gandhi today over Rajasthan crisis

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Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is slated to meet with Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday, in an effort to defuse the crisis that was started in Rajasthan when lawmakers sympathetic to him challenged the appointment of his opponent Sachin Pilot to the position of governor. When it came to selecting Gehlot’s successor, the MPs wanted a say in the decision. They argued against Pilot’s promotion due to his 2020 uprising against the chief minister.

The meeting is anticipated as doubt over next month’s internal party election caused by the uprising in Rajasthan has led to the former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh, emerging as a potential candidate.

On Thursday, Singh was also anticipated to meet Gandhi. The previous front-runner for the position, Gehlot was planning to submit his name for the election on October 17.

It is supposedly expected of Gehlot to explain what happened and distance himself from his followers’ conduct. Additionally, it appears that he apologised to Gandhi.

Rajasthan, one of just two states where the Congress is in sole control, will hold elections in 14 months.

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