The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that TV debates were causing more air pollution than anything else and everybody had their own agendas, while hearing cases relating to increasing air pollution in Delhi-NCR. The apex court’s observation came even as Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Wednesday announced emergency measures to reduce pollution and said that there would be 100% work from home (WFH) for the government departments till 21 November.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant said, “You want to use some issue, make us observe and then make it controversial and then only blame game will remain. Debates on TV are creating more pollution than everyone else. Everybody has their own agenda. They don’t understand anything.” The observation of the Bench came as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre raised the issue of television debates which claimed that he had misled the apex court on the contribution of stubble burning to air pollution.
“There have been nasty occurrences on TV to show that I misled the Court on stubble burning,” Mehta told the top court. To this, Justice Chandrachud said, “We were not misled at all. You said 10% but it was pointed out in the affidavit that it was 30 to 40%.” The CJI also said, “This kind of criticism keeps happening. Our conscience is clear and we work for the betterment of society.”
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi representing the Delhi government told the Bench that said that the Centre’s figures on stubble burning contribution say that it varies from 0 to 58%. Singhvi added, “Possibly Mr Tushar Mehta has taken a four or six-month average (to arrive at 10%).”
“We don’t want to penalise farmers. We have requested states to persuade the farmers to not burn stubble. Why are you, again and again, raising this,” the apex court told Singhvi.
The Centre on Wednesday proposed a slew of measures including a ban on entry of all trucks to Delhi except vehicles carrying essential goods, shutting down of schools and 50% attendance in offices of GNCTD to reduce air pollution.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Bench that the emergency meeting of the Chief Secretaries of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi along with others was held on Tuesday.
The issue regarding work from home for Central government officers was considered but the total vehicles used for Central government officers are not huge so the Centre has issued an advisory for pooling and sharing of vehicles, Mehta told the apex court. During the hearing, the Bench said there has to be some responsibility, not everything can be done through a judicial order.
Mehta also told the apex court that meteorological scientists were also there in the emergency meeting and according to them the wind flow will be there after November 21. “Would this court not consider waiting till November 21 before implementing harsh measures,” he said. The Bench now posted the matter for hearing on November 24 and said that the direction of the Commission for air quality management for Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas have to be complied with.
The Delhi government told the apex court that it can increase metro and bus frequencies and requested the Court to order work from home, ban vehicles in the periphery, in adjoining states too, as there is no point of such ban only in Delhi. The apex court asked Solicitor General about how many vehicles are there and how Central government officials are travelling and suggested that Central government officers living in government colonies can travel in public transport. It also questioned what’s the reason for burning firecrackers in Delhi in the past 10 days after Diwali.
Meanwhile, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced emergency measures to reduce pollution and said that there will be 100% work from home (WFH) for the government departments till 21 November. Construction and demolition work has also been banned till 21 November in Delhi, while schools and other educational institutes will remain closed in the national capital until further orders, Rai informed. Addressing the media after a high-level meeting for strict implementation of the suggestions of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), Rai said, “We have given instructions for a ban on the entry of all vehicles in Delhi, except those involved in essential services. The police department and the transport department will ensure this together.”
“List of more than ten years old diesel vehicles and petrol vehicles over 15 years old has been handed over by Transport department to Police. They will initiate action over this; their movement will be stopped. Pollution under Control (PUC) certificate checking at fuel stations will be further strengthened,” he added.
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OVER 5 CRORE TIRANGA SELFIES CLOCKED AS PART OF HAR GHAR TIRANGA CAMPAIGN
More than five crore Tiranga selfies have been uploaded on the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign website so far, the Ministry of Culture informed on Monday and termed it a “stupendous achievement”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given a call on 22 July 2022, to join the Har Ghar Tiranga’ movement by hoisting or displaying the national flag at homes.
“In a stupendous achievement, more than five crore ‘Tiranga’ selfies have been uploaded on the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ website,” the ministry of Culture said in a statement.
As India embarks on its 76th year of Independence, wrapping up the 75-week countdown to 15 August 2022, was the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ initiative of the government driven by the nodal ministry for ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ the Ministry of Culture.
The commemoration of 75 years of independence started on March 12, 2021, as a 75-week countdown to 15 August 2022, and will continue till 15 August 2023.
Indian Missions under MEA screen short film on Sri Aurobindo
Indian Missions abroad under the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), including the Embassy of India, Paris, India in UK, CGI Birmingham, Switzerland, Colombia and Ecuador, Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO and Bahrain, screened the short film titled ‘Sri Aurobindo: The Beginning of Spiritual Journey’ on 15th August 2022, which also marked the 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo. Directed by award-winning Indian filmmaker Suraj Kumar, the short film is based on a screenplay by Manish Kumar Pran. The film stars Vikrant Chauhan in the titular role.
Based on Sri Aurobindo Ghose’s prison life (1908-1909), the short film was shot in Alipore Jail, Kolkata, from where Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual journey had started. Sri Aurobindo was arrested for conspiracy on 5th May 1908 and spent a full year in Alipore jail while the British government, in a protracted court trial, tried to implicate him in various revolutionary activities. It came to be known as the Alipore Bomb Case. He was finally acquitted and released on 6th May 1909.
‘Sri Aurobindo: The Beginning of Spiritual Journey puts the spotlight on an important chapter of Sri Aurobindo Ghose’s journey that often gets overlooked when one talks about his exemplary life and work. Sri Aurobindo was also a renowned freedom fighter and was accused of bombing a series of British nationals as a leader of Anushilan Samity. However, in Alipore central jail, while being accused of the Alipore conspiracy, he had a change of mind and became a philosopher and spiritual guru till his death in 1950 in Puducherry.
“While Sri Aurbindo Ghose was lodged in jail, his spiritual transformation started just after 2-3 days of prison life. My short film ‘Sri Aurobindo: The Beginning of Spiritual Journey’ documents his beginning of spiritual journey in Alipore jail,” reveals Suraj Kumar. Speaking about the film’s conception, he adds, “The idea of making the short cropped up when one of my IIMC friends and prison reformer Dr. Vartika Nanda discussed it with me, back in early 2021. Subsequently, I visited the National Library of India in Kolkata to document and record the news articles published related to Sri Aurobindo’s imprisonment. “
Sri Aurobindo Ghosh was one of the first few leaders who demanded complete independence from the British Raj. He is said to have proposed the concept of ‘Purna Swaraj’, 20 years before the Indian National Congress. He advocated the use of Swadeshi products, non-cooperation, and passive resistance to achieve the goal. After being a part of the Independence movement from 1902 to 1910, he shifted to the French colony of Puducherry, where he set up an ashram and worked for the development of ‘internal Yoga.’ He authored several works, including The Synthesis of Yoga, The Life Divine, The Ideal of Human Unity, and The Human Cycle, among others.
‘Sri Aurobindo: The Beginning of Spiritual Journey’ will be screened in various schools and colleges all across the country over the next one year.
WHAT MAKES NAVROZ A SPECIAL OCCASION FOR PARSIS
Navroz, which is the Parsi New Year, was celebrated on 16th August this year . The day is dedicated to the beginning of spring and to promoting peace, solidarity, and friendship among people and different communities.
The Navroz celebration is believed to date back to the time when Prophet Zarathustra founded Zoroastrianism, one of the earliest known monotheistic religions in the world, in Persia (now Iran). It was one of the most important religions in the ancient world until the emergence of Islam in the seventh century.
During the Islamic invasion of Persia, several Persians fled to India and Pakistan. Since then, their festivals have become a part of Indian festivities and are celebrated by people from diverse cultures.
Navroz marks the first day of Farvardin, the first month in the Zoroastrian calendar, also known as the Shahenshahi calendar.
For followers of Zoroastrian philosophy, this day represents the time when everything in the universe is completely renewed. Jamshed, a monarch of the ancient Sasanian Empire, is credited with introducing the Parsi calendar. Hence, this holiday is also called Jamshed-i-Nouroz.
Across the world, Navroz is celebrated at the time of the vernal equinox, around 21 March. However, Parsis in India follow the Shahenshahi calendar, which does not recognise leap years. This is why the Parsi New Year in India is celebrated almost 200 days after it is celebrated across the world.
On this occasion, Parsi families across India, especially in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat as they have a sizeable Parsi population, visit the holy temples to offer prayers.
They also prepare traditional Parsi dishes like Farcha, Berry Pulao, and Jardaloo Chicken, among several other things. Parsis also believe it to be a day of remittance of sins and a time for repentance.
GOVERNMENT’S REVENUE LOSS OF RS 1.84 LAKH CRORE IN FIRST 2 YEARS, CLAIMS CONGRESS
On Tuesday, Congress held a press conference where the party spokesperson, Prof. Gourav Vallabh, citing a revenue loss of Rs 1.84 lakh crore in the first 2 years of the corporate tax cut, said, “On September 20, 2019, the government announced the corporate tax cut from a base rate of 30% to 22% for existing firms without exemptions or incentives and from 18% to 15% for new manufacturing units. The rate cut came amidst fiscal distress, as in the same month, the Finance Minister told states at Goa’s GST Council meeting that the Centre had no money and wouldn’t be paying the GST Compensation anymore.
He further added, “For the last 3 years, the government has repeatedly claimed that the corporate tax cut would help increase corporate tax collection. But the parliamentary Committee on Estimates put out different claims in its report submitted on August 8, 2022. The panel said the corporate tax cut of 2019 had resulted in a negative “revenue impact” of Rs 1.84 lakh crore.”
Corporate tax is paid on corporate profits after accounting for all expenses. As per CMIE, 30,000 companies (5,000 listed and 25,000 unlisted) made a 138% increase in net profits in FY21 over FY20. In FY22, listed companies alone made profits that grew by 66.2% over FY21. As per the SBI research paper, the corporate tax cut contributed 19% to the top line for FY 21. “The corporate tax cut contributed to the increase in corporate profits but didn’t raise corporate tax collections,” he said.
According to the RBI, companies have used the corporate tax cut to service debt, accumulate cash balances, and other current assets rather than restart the CAPEX cycle. “In fact, in FY22 capital expenditure grew by a mere 2.3%, a six-year low. So, there was no investment or job creation due to the corporate tax cut in India, and above this, corporate tax collection fell from Rs 5,56,876 crore in FY20 (actual) to Rs 4,57,719 crore in FY21 (actual) despite the increase in corporate profits,” Vallabh said. He added that tax cuts for the rich lead to income inequality. “In contrast, such reforms do not significantly affect economic growth or unemployment,” Vallabh said.
PUNJAB POLICE CRACKDOWN ON ABSCONDERS EVADING ARREST
With the special drive to arrest proclaimed offenders (POs) and absconders in NDPS Act cases entering its 7th week, the weekly arrests of POs and absconders have witnessed a significant surge as Punjab Police has managed to arrest those POs and absconders in NDPS Act cases who have been evading arrest since the 1980s and 1990s. In the last week, there have been 45 such POs/absconders.So far, a total of 186 POs/Absconders in NDPS Act cases have been arrested since July 5, 2022, including 46 nabbed from out of state.
Divulging details, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Headquarters Sukhchain Singh Gill said that Gurdeep Singh alias Kaku of Kotla Hoshiarpur, who was declared PO in November 1985, has been arrested by the Ludhiana Commissionerate Police. Amarjit Singh, a PO from 1988, has been arrested by Fatehgarh Sahib Police, and Mohinder Singh, of village Dabalkheri in Haryana, who was declared PO in 1989, has been arrested by Sangrur Police. Similarly, at least three nabbed POs are those who have been evading arrest since the 1990s, he added.
Giving weekly updates on drugs, the IGP said that Punjab Police have arrested 335 drug smugglers/suppliers after registering 251 first information reports (FIRs), including 22 commercial, under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) act across the state in the last one week.
After conducting cordon and search operations in drug-affected areas and laying nakas at vulnerable routes across the state, the police recovered 9.76Kg of heroin, 8.68Kg of opium, 11.56Kg of Ganja, nine quintals of poppy husk, and 49k tablets/capsules/injections/vials of Pharma opioids, in addition to recovering Rs 40.50 lakh in drug money.
Meanwhile, the DGP has strictly ordered all the CPs/SSPs to further tighten the noose around drug smugglers by identifying all top drug smugglers and the hotspots infamous for drug smuggling in their jurisdictions and launching a combing operation to nab all those selling or smuggling drugs. He also directed the police chiefs to effectively forfeit the property of all the arrested drug smugglers so that their ill-gotten money could be recovered.
SC TO HEAR UNNAO VICTIM’S PLEA SEEKING TRANSFER OF CASE
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to list the petition filed by Unnao rape survivor seeking the transfer of a criminal case against her in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao to the national capital. A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana said that it would list the matter after advocate Vrinda Grover mentioned it before the Court for urgent listing.
Approaching the top court, Advocate Grover submitted that a non-bailable warrant (NBW) was issued against her by the Unnao ACJM court in an FIR filed by the father of Shubham Singh, one of three men currently facing trial in New Delhi for gangraping the survivor. She termed the case filed by Singh’s father, which alleged that the age-proof document provided by her (survivor) to the police was forged-a “counterblast FIR”.
She said that the case before the Unnao court is being pursued with the “oblique motive to intimidate, silence, and harass” her and claimed that there was a grave threat to her life in Unnao.
“The criminal case in Unnao may be transferred to Delhi to prevent the judicial process from becoming an instrument of oppression and harassment. The transfer of the trial to Delhi will not prejudice the respondents whatsoever, and the same is in the interest of justice, equity, and due process,” stated the plea.
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