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The Supreme Court says that farmers have a constitutional right to continue with their protest as long as their dissent against the three agricultural laws did not slip into violence.

Ashish Sinha



NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday said that a protest is constitutional till it does not destroy property or endanger life. “The Centre and farmers have to talk; we are thinking of an impartial and independent committee before whom both parties can give its side of story to resolve impasse on farm laws,” the court added.

The top court also suggested the government not to take any action to implement the law till the court takes a final decision on the issue. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, who was representing the government, said he will get back to the court on the issue after discussion.

The top court in its order said: “We clarify that this court will not interfere with the protest in question. Indeed, the right to protest is part of a fundamental right and can, as a matter of fact, be exercised subject to public order.”

There can certainly be no impediment in the exercise of such rights as long as it is non-violent and does not result in damage to the life and properties of other citizens and is in accordance with law, the court added.

The apex court further said: “We are of the view at this stage that the farmers’ protest should be allowed to continue without impediment and without any breach of peace either by the protesters or the police.”

In order to bring about an effective solution to the present stalemate between the protesters and the Government of India, we consider it appropriate in the interests of justice to constitute a committee comprising of independent and impartial persons including experts in the field of agriculture for the purpose. This may not be possible without hearing all the necessary parties. Till the parties come before us, it would be advisable to obtain suggestions about the Constitution of the said committee from all the parties which may be submitted by them on the date of next hearing in the matter, the court added.

The Supreme Court bench headed by CJI S.A. Bobde was hearing a batch of PILs seeking removal of farmers protesting at Delhi borders against the farm laws.

Appearing for petitioner Senior Advocate Harish Salve said that everybody living in city is affected directly or indirectly. Due to the curtailment of movements of goods, there is price rise. Delhi has a population of 2 million plus which cannot sustain itself. All fruits, vegetables come from across the borders.

“There is a fundamental right to protest. But that has to be balanced with other fundamental rights. Price rise will lead to irreparable loss. My fundamental right to speech does not extend to interfering with other’s fundamental rights. It is about the contours of the fundamental rights,” Salve added

Salve further said: “No right is absolute. From right to protest to right to movement. The content of right to free speech, it includes the right to no, but it cannot extend to right to privacy. Right to protest does not extend to deny others to exercise their rights.”

“It is high time that a declaration comes from this court regarding the contours of the right to protest. It is high time that a declaration comes from this court regarding the contours of right to protest. Today in Covid times if you are increasing the risk of putting my life in danger, you cannot extend this right in doing so. Unions who are organising large crowds should be held responsible for the acts of crowds,” Salve added.

Salve argued that blockade sees increase in prices. Fruits, vegetables, milk, all coming from on across the border. Not rocket science that if movement of vehicles is stopped, prices will go up.

CJI observed: “Nobody can have a quarrel with your arguments. We recognise that the farmers have a right to protest. But we are on the mode of protesting. We will ask the Union what can be done to alter the nature of protesting which will ensure that rights of others are not affected.”

The CJI said that purpose of protest can be achieved only if people talk to each other. “If the protest has a purpose other than the protest, we wish to facilitate that. The police can also not use violent means.”

“For that, we are proposing an independent impartial committee before whom both the parties can state their case while the protest goes on and that the committee will give its opinion, which we expect the parties to follow,” the CJI added.

Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said that their demand is to repeal the three laws. For that they have to come to the table and discuss the laws clause by clause. They must be directed to come for discussion. It cannot be like “repeal or nothing”.

“The damage caused by 22 days of blockade is enormous. People are not able to go for jobs. Ambulances are not permitted to move. Also, there is risk of coronovirus. When protesters go back to their villages, they will spread coronavirus like wildfire,” the A-G added.

Appearing for the Punjab government, senior advocate P. Chidambaram argued that the state has no objection to court’s suggestion that a group of people can facilitate a dialogue between farmers and the Central government.

“But I have serious reservations with what Mr Salve articulated on what can be done in a democracy. I hope your lordships will not go into those issues. When massive number of people think that a law is unjust, there will be massive protests. Remember what happened in US against the Vietnam war, in Paris,” he added.

“Farmers have not blocked the roads. Farmers wanted to march to Delhi. Who has stopped them and blocked them? The police have blocked them. We see photos of barricades, containers,” Chidambaram said.

The CJI said that it is not for the court to predict if the mob will turn violent. It depends on intelligence reports based on which the police act. Whether the mob should be allowed to enter must be left to the authorities to decide and not for the court to decide.

Lawyer for Bharathiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) advocate A.P. Singh said: “We are living in a ‘krishi pradhan’ country and not ‘multinational pradhan’ country. During lockdown, only farmers stopped the starvation of the country and not multinationals.”

The CJI observed: “You have a right to protest which we are not going to interfere with. You carry on the protest. The purpose of protest must be served to talking to someone. You cannot sit in protest for years.”

“It is not possible for court to determine the number of people who will gather in Ram Leela Maidan. We cannot ask others to determine it too. We leave it for the police, not the government or the political parties but with police,” CJI added.

The CJI asked the Attorney General if the Union government can give a commitment that the laws will not be implemented while the court is hearing the matter. The AG expressed difficulty and said he would talk to the government.

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Adhir calls Mamata ‘PM Modi’s middleman’, says she is helping BJP by opposing Congress



West Bengal

Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Saturday called West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “middleman” and accused her of helping Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by opposing the Congress.

While speaking to ANI here today, Chowdhury said, “Mamata Banerjee is helping BJP by opposing Congress. She is becoming a middleman of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” “When Sonia Gandhi chaired a meeting of opposition parties in August, Mamata participated but soon after, Enforcement Directorate (ED) called Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee for questioning. It’s clear that PM Modi does not want the opposition to get stronger. It looks like they had an agreement that ‘Delhi yours, Kolkata ours’ otherwise she would not have spoken useless things about Congress,” added the Congress leader.

The Congress leader’s attack on the TMC supremo came after the TMC in its mouthpiece ‘Jago Bangla’ had said that Mamata Banerjee should be the face of the opposition against PM Modi and not Congress’s Rahul Gandhi.

The editorial also said that Congress has become irrelevant, calling TMC as the “real Congress”.

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Delhi recorded 37 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday and no single death was reported for the second consecutive day. According to Delhi Health Bulletin, as many as 25,091 have succumbed to the disease so far in the national capital. The total count of coronavirus cases in the city has gone up to 14,39,603. The city has 320 active cases at present. The case fatality rate in the national capital is 1.74%. The positivity rate is 0.06%. With 51 more persons discharged in the last 24 hours, the total number of discharged patients has gone up to 14,14,192.

As many as 2,90,32,667 Covid-19 tests have been conducted in Delhi including 47,902 RT-PCR tests and 12,802 rapid antigen tests conducted in the last 24 hours. As many as 73,833 beneficiaries were vaccinated in the last 24 hours taking cumulative beneficiaries to 71,52,597.

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PM Modi to launch Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana during UP visit today



Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Uttar Pradesh on Monday. According to Prime Minister’s office, at around 10.30 am in Siddharthnagar, Prime Minister will inaugurate nine medical colleges in Uttar Pradesh. “Subsequently, at around 1.15 pm in Varanasi, Prime Minister will launch Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana. He will also inaugurate various development projects worth more than Rs 5200 crore for Varanasi,” PMO said.

According to the official release, Prime Minister Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PMASBY) will be one of the largest pan-India schemes for strengthening healthcare infrastructure across the country. It will be in addition to the National Health Mission.

The objective of PMASBY is to fill critical gaps in public health infrastructure, especially in critical care facilities and primary care in both urban and rural areas. “It will provide support for 17,788 rural Health and Wellness Centres in 10 High Focus states. Further, 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centres will be established in all the states,” the release said.

The release said that critical care services will be available in all the districts of the country with more than 5 lakh population, through Exclusive Critical Care Hospital Blocks, while the remaining districts will be covered through referral services.

Under the scheme, the release said that people will have access to a full range of diagnostic services in the public healthcare system through a network of laboratories across the country. Integrated Public Health Labs will be set up in all the districts.

Under PMASBY, a National Institution for One Health, four New National Institutes for Virology, a Regional Research Platform for WHO southeast Asia Region, nine Biosafety Level III laboratories, five New Regional National Centre for Disease Control will be set up.

PMASBY targets to build an IT-enabled disease surveillance system by developing a network of surveillance laboratories at block, district, regional and national levels, in Metropolitan areas. Integrated Health Information Portal will be expanded to all States/UTs to connect all public health labs, said PMO.

“PMASBY also aims at the Operationalisation of 17 new Public Health Units and strengthening of 33 existing Public Health Units at Points of Entry, for effectively detecting, investigating, preventing, and combating Public Health Emergencies and Disease Outbreaks. It will also work towards building up trained frontline health workforce to respond to any public health emergency,” it added. Notably, nine medical colleges to be inaugurated are situated in the districts of Siddharthnagar, Etah, Hardoi, Pratapgarh, Fatehpur, Deoria, Ghazipur, Mirzapur and Jaunpur. Of these, eight medical colleges have been sanctioned under the Centrally sponsored scheme for “Establishment of new medical colleges attached with district/ referral hospitals” and one medical college at Jaunpur has been made functional by the state government through its own resources. “Under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme, preference is given to underserved, backward and aspirational districts. The Scheme aims to increase the availability of health professionals, correct the existing geographical imbalance.”

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Centre asks states to ensure reduction in edible oil prices



The Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) will be meeting all states and Union Territories on Monday through video conferencing to review the action taken on the stock limit order on edible oil prices.

In a letter written to all states by Secretary DFPD, Sudhanshu Pandey, the Department has outlined initiatives taken by the Centre to ease prices of edible oils for relief of consumers and keeping the festive season in mind. The DFPD is monitoring the prices of edible oils and their availability to consumers. This is especially important to the context of the upcoming festival season in which demand for edible oils will increase. Various steps have already been taken by the government like based on the interaction with all the states and edible oil industry associations, stock disclosure notification has been issued and DFPD has created a web portal to monitor the stock of edible oils, oilseeds on a weekly basis in the country.

Demand and consumption of edible are different for the different states, Union Territories (UT) as per the preference of the consumers. However, for finalizing the stock limit quantity of edible oils and oilseeds, the states, UTs may consider the previous stock limit imposed for edible oils and oilseeds by the state, Union Territory. It may be considered that any stakeholder (refiners, millers, wholesalers etc.) should not hold the stocks in excess of two months of the storage capacity.

For guidance states may prefer to indicate limits which may have been imposed by states earlier is enclosed for consideration. However, for other categories, similar quantities as appropriate for the state may be fixed. For example: for refiners, stocks of the maximum of 2 months of the average scale of the last six months could be used. Similarly, quantities may be fixed for extractors/millers may be fixed. ANI

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In a surprising twist to the cruise drugs case, in which film star Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan is in jail, the bodyguard of Kiran Gosavi, who is a witness of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) against the star kid, has alleged that Gosavi took Rs 50 lakh from an individual after the raid at the cruise ship. He has also alleged that NCB made him sign a blank paper. In a video message, the bodyguard, Prabhakar Rohoji Sail is heard alleging, “I worked as a bodyguard of Kiran Gosavi. I assisted him during the Mumbai cruise drugs case.” “On the night of the raid, I reached the place around 9:45 a.m. He asked me to stand near a car and somebody gave me two bags filled with cash for Gosavi. I took it to Vashi at Gosavi’s home and gave it to him. Right after this, I saw Kiran Gosavi packing bags and leaving for somewhere,” he said. “I handed over the bags of cash to him in his car. However, when he counted the cash it was only Rs 38 lakhs. Later, I left from there to Vashi,” he further alleged.

Reacting to the allegations made by the driver, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, in a tweet wrote, “Witness in #AryanKhan case made to sign on blank paper by NCB is shocking. Also, there are reports that there was a demand of huge money. CM Uddhav Thackeray said that these cases are made to defame Mah’shtra. This seems to be coming through Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil. Police should take a suo-moto cognizance.”

On 18 October, Maharashtra Police registered a case against Kiran Gosavi, the man who was seen taking a selfie with Aryan Khan at the NCB office soon after the latter was detained. As per the police, the case was lodged at Kelwa police station in Palghar alleging that Gosavi had duped Lakhs of rupees from people on the pretext of sending them abroad for jobs. Earlier, a case was registered against Gosavi with Faraskhana police station of Pune city on 19 May 2018, for allegedly committing fraud by promising a person a job in Malaysia by taking money. However, he neither returned the money nor offered the job to the complainant. The accused was booked under Sections 419, 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with relevant sections of the Intellectual Technology (IT) Act. Chargesheet was filed in the court as the accused was not found. He is still wanted in the case. The driver has also made allegations of corruption against NCB zonal director, Sameer Wankhede, who is helming the probe in the case. Reportedly, Wankhede said that he would give a “fitting reply” to the allegation against him.

According to a source in the NCB, “Investigation of this case has some important connections with other states too. The probe agency may soon go to other states to investigate the case.” According to sources, nearly five to six drug peddlers are on the NCB radar for alleged involvement in the cruise drugs case. “Now NCB is looking for the financial trail in the case. The agency will now check all the financial transactions of the accused arrested so far,” a source added.

An NCB team busted an alleged drugs party on the Cordelia Cruise ship which was on its way to Goa at mid-sea on October 2. A total of 20 people, including Shahrukh Khan’s son Aryan, have been arrested so far in the case.

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43 countries come together to denounce China’s treatment of Uyghurs



A group of 43 countries has denounced China for its human rights abuse of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. The group of countries from all continents rebuked China for its detainment of Uyghurs in the western region of Xinjiang, reported the HK Post. Generally, Western nations have been vocal about Beijing’s human rights record at the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee and this year Turkey, Eswatini and Liberia joined them. The new additions to last year’s group, which included 39 nations, push back Chinese claims that the rebuke is part of a Western effort to keep China from rising.

“We have seen an increasing number of reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations, including reports documenting torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilization, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced separation of children,” French Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said on behalf of the group.

He further added that “widespread surveillance disproportionately continues to target Uyghurs and members of other minorities”.

Meanwhile, a new report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) based in Canberra called for an investigation into China’s Xinjiang following the publication of leaked documents allegedly detailing Uyghur repression.

Between July 2016 and June 2017, government monitors assigned by Beijing flagged at least 1,869,310 Uyghurs and other citizens in Xinjiang for using Zapya (file-sharing application), the report revealed. ASPI’s latest report is based on thousands of documents leaked to the think tank.

Since early 2017, vast numbers of Uyghur men and women, as well as other Muslim ethnic minorities, have been arbitrarily detained or imprisoned according to the United Nations and human rights groups.

They include hundreds of thousands who have been sent to prisons, in addition to the one million the UN estimates to have been sent to internment camps.

The detentions and alleged abuses inside enclosed government facilities have been described by the United States and international human rights groups as a form of genocide constituting crimes against humanity.

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