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When no minimum sentence is prescribed, accused is entitled to default bail

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Just recently on December 4, 2020, the Delhi High Court in a latest judgement titled Rajeev Sharma vs State (NCT) of Delhi [CRL. REV.P. 363/2020] while ruling explicitly that an accused is entitled to default bail if the chargesheet is not filed within 60 days in offences where no minimum sentence is prescribed granted default bail to journalist Rajeev Sharma who is facing accusation of espionage and leaking sensitive information to Chinese intelligence under the Official Secrets Act. He was booked under Section 3/4/6 of Official Secrets Act and arrested on September 14. The order passed by the lower court was challenged before the Delhi High Court by Rajeev. Rajeev Sharma thereby getting default bail from the Delhi High Court.

To start with, Justice Yogesh Khanna who heard the case through video conferencing sets the ball rolling by first and foremost observing in para 2: “Before adverting to the issue involved, let me state the brief facts as alleged in the petition:-

a) a secret input from Indian intelligence Agency was received that Mr. Rajeev Sharma R/o SG-2, St. Xavier Apartment, Pitampura, New Delhi, is having links with Foreign Intelligence Officers and he has been receiving funds from his handler through illegal means & Western Union Money Transfers platform, for conveying sensitive information (having bearing on National Security & Foreign relations), to his handler based abroad, through electronic means. A case Vide FIR No.230/2020, dated 13.09.2020, u/s 3/4/5 Official Secrets Act, PS Special Cell, Delhi was registered and investigation was taken up;

b) During the investigation, Rajeev Sharma s/o Lt Sh.Rattan Lal Sharma r/o SG-2, Pitampura, New Delhi, was arrested on 14.09.2020 from Main Mathura Road, near Pillar No 172, Near Patel Nagar Metro Station, the arrest of accused Rajeev Sharma all the guidelines of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India were followed and the information of his was passed on to his wife Mrs. Pratima Vyas, though mobile phone call. Mobile phone of accused Rajeev Sharma was also seized. Further during the search of the house of the accused Rajeev Sharma, several articles and some sensitive/confidential documents related to Indian Defence department were recovered at the instance of accused Rajeev Sharma. The same were seized;

c) During further investigation, it was revealed that accused Rajeev Sharma has been indulged in procurement secret/confidential/sensitive documents/material information and rather conveying the same to his handlers (Chinese Intelligence officers) based in China. In lieu of that he was getting remuneration/money through illegal means i.e. hawala transactions/funds routed through shell companies being run/operated by Chinese nationals, in Delhi, India;.

d) During further investigation it was that accused Rajeev Sharma was in contact with these officers namely Michael, Xou and George through emails platforms i.e. Telegram, Whatsapp etc. Accused Rajeev Sharma was conveying the information to these Chinese intelligence Officers and was receiving the illegal funds through illegal means/shell companies being operated in Mahipalpur, Delhi by the Chinese nationals on the direction of Chinese intelligence officers;

e) Letter was moved to Military Intelligence, to verify and report regarding the recovered during search of house of accused Rajeev Sharma. in this regard from Director General Military Intelligence has As per the report-The documents are CLASSIF! vide Para 9 of Classification & handling of classified documents (CHCD)-2001 issued vide Military Intelligence -11 letter Number A/38020/MI-11 dated July 2001, and the person i.e. accused Rajeev Sharma was having the unauthorized possession of the said documents. Further it was also mentioned by the DGMI that any unauthorized disclosure of content of these documents could be expected to cause damage to National Security or could be prejudicial to the National Interests or would embarrass the Government in its functioning and the contents contained in documents are directly or indirectly connected with security matters country;”

More revealingly, it is then most convincingly observed in simple and straight language in para 3 that, “Accused Rajeev Sharma on 14.11,2020 had moved a petition under Section 167(2) Cr.P.C in the Court of learned CMM/Ld Duty Magistrate to release him, on the ground that 60 days period having expired since his arrest and charge sheet not been filed by the State, thus, relying upon the judgment of Supreme Court of India, in the case of “Rakesh Kumar Paul vs. State of Assam”. The said petition was dismissed by the Court saying the limit of 60 days period has not yet expired.”

To put things in perspective, it is then stated in para 4 that, “The State had filed a revision before learned ASJ, Patiala House Court, on 15.11.2020 against order dated 14.11.2020 of Ld. CMM and the same is pending for hearing for dated 07.01.2021. In the meantime, on 15.11.2020, accused Rajeev Sharma filed a petition under Section 167(2) Cr.P.C. (on similar grounds) in the court of Duty MM, Patiala House Court, wherein Ld Duty MM after perusing the matter dismissed the said petition on 16.11.2020 and ordered the time period of filing the charge sheet in this offence would be 90 days.”

To be sure, it is then aptly observed in para 6 that, “Against the said order dated 16.11.2020 of learned MM, Patiala House Courts, accused Rajeev Sharma has moved the present petition.” Para 7 then discloses that, “The dispute involves interpretation of Section 167 Cr.P.C.”

To put it succinctly, it is then stated in para 9 that, “It is argued by the learned Standing Counsel for the State that Rakesh Kumar Paul (supra) takes care of only the situation where minimum punishment is prescribed but what would happen if there is no minimum punishment prescribed. Thus the main argument of the learned Standing Counsel for the State is since the offence is punishable with a maximum of fourteen years viz. a period beyond ten years and without prescribing any minimum punishment, Section 167(2)(a)(i) Cr.P.C. shall be applicable and chargesheet can be filed within 90 days and thus petitioner shall not be entitled to default bail.”

In short, para 10 then states that, “The crux of his arguments is where there is no minimum punishment prescribed and the maximum punishment is more than 10 years then the chargesheet can be filed beyond 60 days but before 90 days from the date of arrest.”

As a corollary, it is then made clear in para 11 that, “The Court thus is required to see if in the present case the chargesheet is to be filed within 90 days or was required to be filed within 60 days from the date of arrest of the accused.”

As it turned out, para 12 then brings out that, “The learned Standing Counsel for the State referred to Vignesh vs. State of Tamil Nadu in CRL.O.P.(MD)2263/2012 decided on 30.03.2012 wherein the decision of Delhi High Court reported in 2001 CLJ 2023 was relied upon. The Court opined the expression “imprisonment for a term of not less than 10 years” used in clause (i) of proviso (a) to Sub Section (2) of Section 167 includes imprisonment for a term of 10 years as well as imprisonment of more than 10 years. In other words, clause (i) of proviso (a) to Sub Section (2) of Section 167 will be applicable where the investigation relates to an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term of 10 years or more. The crucial test is whether the offence is one for which the punishment of imprisonment for a term of 10 years or more can be awarded. It is immaterial that the Court may have also the discretion to award the punishment for a term of less than 10 years. In the case of particular offence even though the Court may have a discretion to award the punishment of imprisonment for a term less than 10 years the above clause (i) will apply, if the accused can be punished with imprisonment for a term of 10 years.”

As we see, it is then observed in para 13 that, “In this case the Court held that since the offence under Section 3(1), first part of Official Secrets Act, 1923, being punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 14 years was covered by clause (i) of proviso (a) to Sub Section (2) of Section 167 Cr.P.C. and consequently, the applicant were not entitled to bail as of right since the report under Section 173 Cr.P.C. had been filed within 90 days of their arrest.”

Needless to say, para 14 then brings out that, “The learned Standing Counsel for the State also refers to Omprakash vs. State of Delhi 121 (2005) DLT 686 which also declared the same law.”

As against this, it is then stated in para 15 that, “However in Vinu vs. State of Kerala and Others, BAIL APPLN.8049/2011 decided on 08.12.2011 the Court held in cases where offence is punishable with imprisonment of 10 years or more the accused can be detained upto 90 days. In this context, the expression not less than would mean imprisonment should be 10 years or more and would cover only those offences for which the punishment could be imprisonment for a clear period of 10 years or more.”

To state the obvious, it is then stated in para 16 that, “A bare perusal of the Vinu (supra) above would say the expression not less than 10 years would cover the offence which is punishable with imprisonment for 10 years or more but per Vignesh (supra) and Omprakash (supra) it may even cover the discretion to award the punishment of imprisonment for a term of less than 10 years.”

Without mincing any words, it is then observed in para 17 that, “I’m afraid the contention raised by the learned Standing Counsel for the State does not hold good in view of Rakesh Kumar Paul vs State of Mysore, SLP(C) 2009/2017 where also the Supreme Court was concerned with interpretation of the words “imprisonment for a term of not less than 10 years” appearing in clause (i) of proviso (a) to Sub Section (2) of Section 167 Cr.P.C. 1973, as amended in 1978. The Supreme Court went in great detail analyzing the purpose of amendment since 1898 which contained Section 167 laying down the procedure to be followed in the event the investigation to the offence is not completed within 24 hours. The Court observed that the legislative expectation was the investigation would ordinarily be completed within 24 hours. Section 167 Cr.P.C. was thus enacted with the recommended time limit and again regardless of the nature of offence of the punishment.”

Truth be told, it is then laid bare in para 18 that, “The Supreme Court went on to say that in 1978 a need was felt to amend Section 167 Cr.P.C. by not only extending the period for completinginvestigation but also relating that period to the offence. Therefore a shift was proposed to grant an aggregate period of 90 days for completing the investigation in cases relating to offences punishable to death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for not less than 10 years or more, as stated in the Notes on clauses accompanying the Statement of Objects and Reasons dated 09.05.1978 for amending the Statute. The Court said that in its opinion the use of words “or more” gives a clear indication that the period of 90 days was relatable to an offence punishable with minimum imprisonment for a period of not less than 10 years, if not more. The words or more were deleted when Section 167 Cr.P.C. was enacted, perhaps felt to be superfluous in the context of the words “not less than”.”

As anticipated, it is then elucidated in para 19 that, “This gives an answer to the issues raised in this petition that the offence must have the imprisonment for a clear period of 10 years or more only then Section 167(2)(a)(i) Cr.P.C. would be applicable. This view also find favour in Rajeev Choudhary vs. State of NCT of Delhi 2001(5)SCC 34 wherein it was held the words “not less than” would mean that the imprisonment should be of 10 years or more and would cover only those cases for which the punishment and imprisonment would be for a clear period of 10 years or more.”

Be it noted, para 20 then brings out that, “In Rakesh Kumar Paul (supra) the Court observed that the undoubtedly the legislature can bind the sentencing Court while laying down the minimum sentence (not less than) and it can also lay down the maximum sentence. If the minimum is laid down the sentencing Judge has no option but to give a sentence period not less than that sentence provided for. Therefore the words “not less than” occurring in clause (i) of proviso (a) to Sub Section (2) of Section 167 of Cr.P.C. must be given their natural and obvious meaning which is to say, not below the minimum threshold and in case of Section 167 Cr.P.C. these words must relate to the offence punishable with a minimum imprisonment of 10 years.”

In addition, para 21 then envisages that, “Here I would also refer to para 84 of Rakesh Kumar Paul vs. State of Assam 2017 (15) SCC 67, wherein the conclusions are noted, more specifically paras 84.2 and 84.3 would clinch the issue. The said paras are:

“84.2. Section 167(2)(a)(i) of the Code is applicable only in cases where the accused is charged with (a) offences punishable with death and any lower sentence; (b) offences punishable with life imprisonment and any lower sentence; and (c) offences punishable with minimum sentence of 10 years.

84.3. In all cases where the minimum sentence is less than 10 years but the maximum sentence is not death or life imprisonment then Section 167(2)(a)(ii) will apply and the accused will be entitled to grant of “default bail” after 60 days in case charge-sheet is not filed.”

Interestingly enough, it is then mentioned in para 22 that, “Rakesh Kumar Paul (supra) was relied upon in M.Ravindran vs. The Intelligence Officer, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence Crl.A.No.699/2020 decided on 26.10.2020 to say where the offence is punishable with minimum sentence of 10 years, the period of challan shall be 90 days.”

Most significantly, it is then pointed out in para 23 that, “Thus under the Official Secret Acts for which the petitioner is being tried, though entail punishment which may extend to 14 years but the Section does not talk of minimum period of sentence and thus does not pass the test of clear period of 10 years or more, per Rajeev Choudhary (supra) and Rakesh Paul (supra) and as such the period of challan in this case would be 60 days and thus the impugned order passed by the learned MM being illegal is set aside and the petition is allowed. The petitioner is thus entitled to default bail; the challan having not been filed within 60 days.”

As a consequence, it is then held in para 24 that, “The applicant herein is thus admitted on bail on his executing a personal bond of Rs.1,00,000/- to the satisfaction of the Jail Superintendent/Duty MM. The surety of the like amount shall be furnished by the petitioner within a week once the learned Trial Court resuming its normal functioning. The petitioner is directed to provide his contact number/address to the SHO concerned as also he shall keep open his location app in his mobile at all time and shall not leave the NCR of Delhi without seeking permission of the learned Trial Court.”

Now coming to the concluding paras. Para 25 holds that, “The petition stands disposed of in above terms. Pending application(s) if any, also stands disposed of.” Finally, it is then held in the last para 26 that, “Copy of this order be sent electronically to the learned Trial Court / Jail Superintendent for information and compliance.”

No doubt, this latest, learned and laudable ruling by the Delhi High Court makes it amply clear that if chargesheet is not filed within 60 days as is mandated in Section 167 (2) of CrPC when the investigating agency fails to complete the probe in cases where the minimum punishment is less than 10 years then the accused becomes entitled to default bail on expiry of a period of 60 days. Justice Yogesh Khanna has explained in detail the legal position on this as stated above. Very rightly so! Nothing more now remains to be said on this!

The Delhi High Court in its judgement, while ruling explicitly that an accused is entitled to default bail if the chargesheet is not filed within 60 days in offences where no minimum sentence is prescribed, granted default bail to journalist Rajeev Sharma who is facing accusation of espionage and leaking sensitive information to Chinese intelligence under the Official Secrets Act.

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Opinion

G7 FOCUS ON CHINA A SHOT IN THE ARM FOR INDIA

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Even though the Ukraine invasion and sanctions on Russia dominated the deliberations at the G7 Summit in Germany, the leaders of the group of seven wealthiest nations of the world—the US, Canada, Italy, the UK, France, Germany, and Japan—focused on Beijing’s belligerence and human rights violations in China in what must have come as a shot in the arm for India.

That the G7 communique devoted quite a lot of space to China’s rights violations in Xinjiang and also to its strident claims over much of the South China Sea is a welcome move as far as New Delhi’s diplomatic campaign to garner global support against Beijing’s belligerence is concerned. The G7’s advice to China to respect fundamental freedoms is a clear message to Beijing that it should first see its own records on human rights violations before commenting on internal matters of other countries including India. In a stronger message to China, the world leaders stressed in the statement that the situation in Tibet, and in Xinjiang, where there is “forced labour”, “is of major concern to us”.

The G7 statement pledging to reduce “strategic dependencies” on China should be viewed as another setback to Beijing. It is an indication that the G-7 will toughen its stance against Beijing in days to come. With China looming large, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement in Germany that he was looking forward to fruitful discussions with world leaders on various topical issues implied how G7 was prepared to focus also on Beijing despite several engrossing issues such as Ukraine and global economy. A US official reportedly called the collective statement “unprecedented in the context of the G7” in acknowledging “the harms caused by China’s non-transparent, market distorting, industrial directives”. What the US official was referring to was the G7 leaders’ blistering attack on China while condemning its “non-transparent and market-distorting” international trade practices. Beijing’s increasingly strident claims over much of the South China Sea has also sparked alarm among the G7 countries over its military ambitions. What is believed is that China’s assertiveness in other geographies might have figured during PM Modi’s bilateral talks with various world leaders on the sidelines of the G7 Summit at Munich.

All the leaders voiced concern about human rights violations in China. They urged Beijing to respect fundamental freedoms. All this suggests that the global community, particularly the seven powerful countries, are keeping a close eye on all the developments in China. What is also suggested is that China’s aggressiveness in the Indo-Pacific and along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is also on the radar of the global community.

The G7’s project ‘Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment’ (PGII), a joint initiative to fund infrastructure projects in developing countries, is already being seen as the bloc’s counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Pushing its debt-trap diplomacy across various economically weak nations, Beijing is said to be alarmed over the G7’s initiative to counter its BRI projects. Indian Foreign Minister Vinay Mohan Kwatra may have given a relatively lukewarm reception after the unveiling of this ambitious project by the G7, but New Delhi will be ready to be part of it after “examination of the details”.

India’s importance in the G7’s strategy to deal with China’s challenges in the Indo-Pacific is known to all the seven countries. Moreover, India is already working with two of the G7 nations—the US and Japan—in the Quad on the Indo-Pacific challenges. Its coordination with the remaining five countries is also quite smooth. As a result of all the equations and coordination, India is likely to be considered to be made a new addition to G-7. The Modi government is perhaps giving momentum to the diplomatic campaign to get into this elite group.

Undoubtedly, the United States has long cast a wary eye at China over its trade practices. The Biden administration also believes that China’s trade practices are designed to accord an unfair and undue advantage to Chinese companies over foreign firms. The G7 leaders have, therefore, signaled that they would seek to “extricate themselves from economic dependence” on China in what will be yet another jolt to it. So, the G7’s opinion about China that came up at the Summit in Germany is a breather for India.

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Inflation Drives Online Business Down

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Inflation rates are on the rise this week, and we are seeing repercussions from that across multiple online industries. Many companies are preparing to tighten their belt as consumers are spending less and driving down values for online products.

Crypto Industry Takes a Blow

One of the most notable ways we have seen the rising inflation rates affect online business and products is in the cryptocurrency industry. Inflation has hit major crypto tokens very hard, spurring a bearish trend, or falling rates, almost across the board. Major cryptocurrency coins, like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana, are all down today, some as high as 9%, which is really astounding. This could signal the start of a market crash for the industry, which is coming on the heels of a recent crash that  sent the rates hurtling downward beyond where some of them have been in years.If the prices fall farther and stay down without any serious attempt at recovery, we could be seeing a new market low that would be tough to bounce back from. Many investors are already pulling out of the industry, selling off their crypto tokens or moving their tokens over to stablecoins that don’t see much in the way of price fluctuation.

There is a shift happening in the crypto industry, and it is due partly to inflation. If the economy doesn’t start to recover, some of those cryptos may never get back to where they were at the start of the year. What’s astounding is that this was the year that some analysts said Bitcoin would reach unprecedented heights, but those analysts failed to account for the possibility of rising inflation and what it would do to the industry.

Online Spending Is Down

We are also seeing many consumers buying less online, which is hurting retailers across the board. Just take a look at the gaming industry, which saw a shift toward older games all year long. The top played games of the year were almost all games from several years ago, including releases like Skyrim, Minecraft, Rocket League, and Grand Theft Auto V. Major new releases this year like Elden Ring are barely cracking the top 20 played games.

That’s a big deal in an industry that is always chasing the new thing, and game developers and publishers cannot sustain themselves on the scraps they get from players who are not as interested in buying new games and playing them continuously. The current gaming business model require players to stay online and keep buying upgrades, loot chests, downloadable content, and other digital items that help hugely expensive games recoup their budgets.

There has been a migration of gamers to free games or at least free-to-play games, and the online gambling and casino industry has benefited from that. This is why สล็อตเว็บตรง have proven to be very popular lately, as well as other online casino games and free multiplayer offerings. Some of the most played games on Steam right now are free-to-play games like Counterstrike: GO and other similar titles. Gamers are spending less money on games but spending more time playing, and the gaming industry is trying to figure to what to do abut that. We may see games operate on smaller budgets in the near future as a way to handle the rising costs of development and the more frugal spending of gamers.Online retailers are having a difficult time with the inflation as well, as their costs have increased but consumer spending has decreased in most areas of online retail. The major retailers will likely be fine, but it is the little guys that will suffer and potentially have to go out of business. That is, unless they adapt to the changing consumer spending habits and find new ways to open up revenue streams and entice customers.

As inflation increases with no end in sight, we could be entering another recession soon. It is too early to call it yet, but that’s where things look to be headed unless major world governments issue stopgap measures to keep inflation from getting too out of hand. Until then, expect the online industries to keep trying to adapt.

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Tracing ‘kingmaker’ Fadnavis’ evolution to a towering stature

Post November 2019, political pundits had written off Devendra Fadnavis. While he had won the election, he lost power in a game of political chess. After Uddhav Thackeray quit as CM ahead of a floor test, Fadnavis has sprung a surprise, announcing that rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde will be the next CM of Maharashtra.

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In politics, there are comebacks and there are stunning comebacks. Every stunning comeback is built on hard work, and results in creating leaders with towering stature. Maharashtra has witnessed one such stunning comeback.

Post November 2019, most political pundits had written Devendra Fadnavis off. While he had won the election and people’s verdict, he had lost power in a game of political chess. The short-lived saga with Ajit Pawar, too, had not ended well. In the next few months, it looked all gloom and doom as the Uddhav Thackeray government strengthened itself. But, the real story was unfolding in the background. Fadnavis had learnt from the events very quickly. He was now ready to don the mantle of an opposition leader. As anti-CAA and pro-CAA rallies took part in Mumbai, Fadnavis made a fiery speech at Gowalia Tank. While supporting the CAA, he made a speech which was high on Hindutva and energized both the party and supporters. The year 2020 started with the Covid-19 crisis. Like all other parts of society, politics, too, was changing. In the initial weeks of the Covid-19 crisis in Maharashtra, the PR driven actions of the MVA government were creating an illusion of control. But Fadnavis soon sensed the reality behind the illusion. He quickly hit the ground. Under his leadership, the BJP cadre involved itself in relief and support of Covid-19 affected masses. Fadnavis personally got involved in distribution of ration, PPE kits, medical supplies and opening up of new Covid centres across the state.

The stark contrast of the CM sitting at home while Fadnavis was travelling across the state to help the people was much evident. This also helped in energizing the BJP rank and file across the state. Apart from Covid, Maharashtra saw many other crisis, including twin cyclones on the western coast and floods in many districts. Fadnavis was always among the first to reach affected areas. At times, he was ensuring help for the people which ideally was the CM’s responsibility.

Slowly, as the sheen of aura around the MVA was wearing off, Fadnavis was raising issues which affected the common man. Be it farmer distress or problems of workers or plight of students or problems faced by small traders during Covid or women’s safety, Fadnavis used the first Assembly session (after the Covid crisis started) to corner the government and seek accountability. People’s problems had found a powerful voice in the form of Fadnavis.

A turning point in this period was when Fadnavis exposed the MVA during Antilla bomb scare incident. The intelligent lawyer in him with an eye for detail exposed the murky dealings of the MVA, which resulted in resignation and arrest of then Home minister Anil Deshmukh. A key observation was that while he was no more the CM, he still had the respect amongst the IAS & IPS lobby and the government departments.

Fadnavis was attacking and exposing the MVA on the ground as well as in the Assembly. A common joke in Maharashtra was that whenever the Assembly session is convened, Covid cases rise because the MVA government wanted to avoid or curtail the Assembly sessions due to the fear of Fadnavis. For the common people in the state, they had not seen their CM moving out of his house, but they had seen Fadnavis travel to each and every corner of the state. In the last few months, the people of Maharashtra have discovered the brilliant oratory of Fadnavis. While he has always been a good orator, now, his oratory had reached greater heights. He could easily bundle development and Hindutva while exposing Uddhav Thackeray’s failure on both fronts.

Fadnavis had shown his electoral capabilities twice in Maharashtra (2014 & 2019) and later in Bihar (2020) and Goa (2022). But there was still one area where he had to prove he was the best. This was the area of political management in which Sharad Pawar has been acclaimed for too long. Fadnavis got his chance during the June 2021 Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishad elections. During the Rajya Sabha, he not only ensured victory for the third BJP candidate, but also ensured BJP got 17 first preference votes additional to BJP seats. The game of arithmetic that he played was brilliant enough to checkmate even Sharad Pawar. During the Vidhan Parishad elections, he ensured that BJP’s fifth candidate also won and this time, the additional number of first preference votes rose to 28. In two elections, within a span of 10 days, Fadnavis had not only outwitted Sharad Pawar twice, but also widened the cracks within the MVA.

Uddhav Thackeray resigned as CM ahead of a floor test on Wednesday and, springing a surprise, Fadnavis on Thursday announced that rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde will be the next Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Fadnavis’ announcement defied expectations that he would return as Chief Minister with the support of the Shinde faction.

However, Fadnavis’ journey from “one amongst equals” to “the tallest leader in the state” has reached a historical stage. Very rarely in Maharashtra politics have we seen a leader who combines administrative skills with oratory, political acumen, grassroot connect and a clean image. Another aspect which differentiates Devendra Fadnavis is his acceptance across all regions of Maharashtra and among all communities. He is the only pan Maharashtra leader since late Yashwant Rao Chavan.

The author is the in-charge of Social Media Cell, BJP Maharashtra, and member of the State Executive.

Though Fadnavis has announced that Eknath Shinde will be the next CM, Fadnavis’ journey from ‘one amongst equals’ to ‘the tallest leader in the state’ has reached a historical stage. Very rarely in Maharashtra politics have we seen a leader who combines administrative skills with oratory, political acumen, grassroot connect and a clean image. Another aspect which differentiates Devendra Fadnavis is his acceptance across all regions of Maharashtra and among all communities. He is the only pan Maharashtra leader since late Yashwant Rao Chavan.

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PARTIES NEED TO BE CAUTIOUS AND RESPONSIBLE WHILE DOING POLITICS

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Udaipur

The incident of brutal beheading in Udaipur has tremendously dented the image of Rajasthan which has, hitherto, been known for communal harmony and peace. No words are enough to condemn this gruesome murder which is never allowed in a democratic country and civilized society. This type of macabre killing has been seen only in countries under dictatorships. This incident is the first of its kind that happened in India. The killers were so fearless that they posted the video of beheading on internet for terrorizing the society. There must not be any repetition of such a brutal act. All the political parties and the governments here should sit together and hammer out a solution to prevent it.

Now the question arises as to who is responsible for this. In a way, all the political parties are responsible for this. The role of TRP race of the news channels and social media cannot also be ruled out. Under pressure to top the list in terms of viewership, news channels tend to go to any extent for the TRP. Soon after being launched, some of the channels ran shows on concocted stories of magic and witchcraft. Once a channel showed a vehicle without a driver. The reality was that the driver was hiding somewhere in the car. This was followed by various debate shows where heated exchanges were the order of the day. One cannot forget how a story about an imaginative chip in Rs 2,000 note was run on some TV channels after demonetization. Some sponsored debates were conducted with an objective to please the government. Gradually, media channels started airing the views that fueled negativity in the atmosphere. The channels were seen vying with each other to ramp up viewership during the Gyanwapi issue. Amid all the charged atmosphere in media channels, Nupur Sharma said something that should have been avoided. It triggered massive debate on social media. And the result is for all of us to see.

It could have been prevented. But only if the governments and political parties had shown political will. Only one party cannot be blamed for this. Congress and other parties are as much responsible as the BJP. Whatever be the explanation, the Congress and other political outfits are indulging in Muslim appeasement. All the parties divided majority community into different castes and did politics of Muslim appeasement for five decades. Barring BJP, all the parties such as Congress, SP, RJD, the Left parties, etc. are still not ready to do any course correction. Akhilesh Yadav is still practicing Muslim-Yadav centric politics in UP. Similarly, the Congress government in Rajasthan is on the same old track. Events like Roza Iftar are organized and statements aimed at appeasing minorities come from Congress. This results in the majority taking a different view on the same.

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot needs to realise that the politics is changing now in the country. Congress and CM need to understand that the minority in Rajasthan will vote for Congress because it has no other option. Minorities go for the parties which can defeat BJP. So, the government should not do anything that could anger the majority which the BJP takes advantage of. The majority has been targeted in Rajasthan wherever communal violence has happened. The BJP will be more aggressive and the government will be questioned in days to come. If we look at UP, the Congress and other parties target CM Yogi Adityanath’s working style. But it hardly makes any difference to him as the people of UP are happy with his government. Everything is under control in UP, the state which was earlier known for riots.

There should be fear among criminals in Rajasthan. Amid speculation about foreign hands in the Udaipur incident, the Rajasthan government is answerable over its intelligence efficiency. Why did the police not have prior information on violence? Gehlot needs to realise that the violence and crimes can overshadow his pro-people decisions.

At the same time, Congress has been continuing to target PM Modi since 2004. Congress’ focus is not on strengthening organisation due to which debacles are being faced by it. It is hardly any significant force in opposition, which is not good in a democracy. BJP is benefiting from Congress’ wrong decisions. Congress’ appeasement politics is suiting BJP in its politics to woo majority. Undoubtedly, the saffron party gets benefited by any polarizing incident.

But BJP also needs to understand that excess of anything is not good. Polarisation cannot benefit it beyond a limit. Electoral benefits may come to it but it could corrode the social and communal fabric of the country. Our country is known for unity in diversity. Unity cannot be destroyed just by a couple of elements only. However, the political parties need to have patience and self-control during testing times.

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India set to play a key role in new I2U2 forum

After the grand success of the revived Quad, India and the US are ready to open another arena of engagement, this time with Israel and the UAE, as the new I2U2 forum.

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On the one hand, when Russia and Ukraine are locked in a tussle that has cost the entire world heavily in terms of major food, energy and humanitarian crisis, nations are associating and collaborating through difference multilateral platforms to take up various global challenges as well as objectives. After the grand success of the revived Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), India and the US are ready to open another arena of engagement, this time with Israel and the UAE, as the new I2U2 forum.

A new grouping of India-Israel (I2) and UAE-US (U2) has been formed by the four nations, which has been referred as the “West Asian Quad” by the ambassador of UAE to India, Ahmed Al Banna. The framework of the group was formed in October 2021, when the grouping of the four nations—India, Israel, United Arab Emirates, and the United States—met for the first time and decided to set up I2U2 keeping the issues related to maritime security, digital infrastructure, infrastructural development, defence and climate change containment at the epicentre.

Geopolitically, it is focused on expanding economic and political cooperation in West Asia and Asia through strengthening diplomatic relations in different domains such as trade. The objective also includes finding comprehensive solutions to the global challenge of climate change. The nations also agreed to work in the areas of energy cooperation through this joint platform.

In October 2021, when External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar visited Israel, the foreign ministers of the four countries met and the framework of I2U2 was constituted with the name, “International Forum for Economic Cooperation”. It was then decided that the heads of the four nations would meet through the first summit of I2U2 when US President Joe Biden would visit West Asia between 13-16 July. Biden would be visiting West Asia for the first time after becoming the US President. The noteworthy point is that he would also be visiting Israel. The first summit of I2U2 will be joined virtually by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Looking at the level of bilateral relations, the matrix has to be understood well. The relations between India and the US, India and Israel, India and UAE, US and Israel are positive and progressive. Relations between US and UAE seem to be positive, and are expected to be moving in further collaborative direction especially in the area of energy security. Last but not the least, despite the normalization of relations between Israel and UAE in August 2020, the question of their age-old negative relationship may work as an irritant. However, considering the overall matrix, I2U2 seems to be a strategically important engagement for the future considering the focus areas.

Biden would also visit Jeddah and Saudi Arab during his visit, and he would also be attending the significant summit of GCC+3 (Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan). Apart from the summit, he would also be having bilateral talks with all these nations. Considering Biden’s restricted communications with the Saudi royals, especially after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist, it would be interesting to see what comes out of Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia. This meeting would be closely monitored as has called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state and believes in the involvement of Saudi Prince’s involvement in Khashoggi’s killing based on an intelligence report, although Donald Trump had an opposite view and thus, he maintained amicable relations with the Saudi royals.

However, things seem to changing since Biden became the President as he has initiated several multilateral initiatives and dialogues to strengthen defence, cultural and diplomatic relations of the US, globally. Biden has not only strengthened the Quad, he also revived the AUKUS, the three-nation alliance with Australia and the United Kingdom. He also started a quadrilateral dialogue with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan. On the one hand, he is focusing on strengthening such platforms, and, on the other hand, he is leaving no stone unturned in containing China and Russia’s globally.

India would certainly be playing a critical role in the I2U2. Being a neutral nation so far, India is the only nation that is a part of the Quad as well as BRICS (Britain, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Both have positive global and regional goals to attain; however, the interesting fact is that the Quad aims to contain China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region, while BRICS is considered as a counter-defensive mechanism against the western block, especially NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Being a member nation of both the alliances, India seems to be playing a critical role in executing the balancing act.

Today, Ukraine is in a devastated state and there is a crucial question that remains unanswered: where will this all take us? Ukraine shares its cultural identity with Russia, and was its part until the disintegration of the erstwhile USSR in 1991. After this historic disintegration, the Cold War ended. The world was also observing a neo-liberal way of globalization, and ushered in to a new era of multi-polarity where the definition of power itself had changed. Though the US was the clear-cut winner of the Cold War, and remained the hegemon in world politics since then, new centres of power also emerged such as China. Moreover, the world witnessed a big change in terms of priorities of the countries that led them to connect with each other irrespective of their ideological or historical differences. Although Russia remained a major power, it had lost the glory of the leader of the eastern bloc. The military alliance it created with the support of other anti-west countries, backed by Warsaw pact, also declined eventually. However, on the other hand, the NATO, the military alliance created by the western bloc during the Cold War days, not only kept flourishing, it also started providing membership to the countries disintegrated from Russia. Slowly, Europe, especially the eastern part, started looking like getting NATO-fied. When Putin came into the power, he not only fiercely started working against this westernization of the countries around Russia, he also declared to work for reunification of Russia to get back its lost glory.

After attacking and establishing its bases in Georgia in 2008, Putin ruthlessly attacked and controlled Crimea in 2014 to keep a control over the passage to Black Sea. Since the world kept mum at both these attacks, Putin made it clear that he will not allow Ukraine to be a member of NATO, which was justified in a way, as who would allow his biggest enemy to reach his doorstep? As Ukraine did not pay any attention to the warnings of Putin, the world today witnesses the most brutal attack on Ukraine from the Russian army. Putin strategically encircled Ukraine, starting from the Eastern Ukraine where the pro-Russian separatist groups were already active. Zapped Volodymyr Zelenskyy expected help from the US, who pushed him not to step back from becoming a member of NATO as well as the NATO alliance countries. But soon he realised how he was trapped and used by the western lobby against Putin. US made it very clear that it will not fight any war on Ukraine’s soil, nor any NATO member country came forward to directly help Zelenskyy. After the first wave of shock, NATO member countries and the US announced economic sanctions, indirect support to Ukraine by seizing the air and maritime space for Russia, stopping all business with Russia and providing arms support to Ukraine. Despite all this, Putin did not stop.

Today, the situation seems to be in a deadlock where neither Putin is stopping the war, nor Ukraine is stepping back. Threats of nuclear, biological and chemical warfare are also emerging. In today’s multipolar world of diversified dimensions of engagements, why is this war happening in the first place? Who will stop it? The UN seems to be in a spot where its relevance itself has become a big question. Talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials are not concluding with any results. Ukraine is already destructed, Russia is also bleeding, China is preparing to be the next aggressor in the Asian theatre and a new arms race has started. War cannot be an answer to any differences, but it can make a remarkable difference to the world; this should not be forgotten.

Presently, there seems to be multi-dimensional challenges globally. From the grave Ukraine-Russia conflict to coming out of the shadow of Covid-19 to working for climate change containment to developing innovative and sustainable technologies to enhancing collaboration in the areas of counter-terrorism, food security and energy security; there seems to be a long list of prioritised objectives. Instead of working in a compartmentalised fashion, today’s nations are preferring to be working in a “team play” mode. Considering the same, I2U2 seems to be an optimistic development, presenting a unique alliance among the four significant nations.

Dr Anshu Joshi is Professor, School of International Studies, JNU.

In October 2021, when External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar visited Israel, the foreign ministers of the four countries met and the framework of I2U2 was constituted with the name, “International Forum for Economic Cooperation”. It was then decided that the heads of the four nations would meet through the first summit of I2U2 when US President Joe Biden would visit West Asia between 13-16 July. Biden would be visiting West Asia for the first time after becoming the US President. The noteworthy point is that he would also be visiting Israel. The first summit of I2U2 will be joined virtually by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India would certainly be playing a critical role in the I2U2. Being a neutral nation so far, India is the only nation that is a part of the Quad as well as BRICS. Both have positive global and regional goals to attain.

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Opinion

What is SSC CPO Exam?

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The Staff Selection Commission conducts a national-level SSC CPO exam for the aspirants to recruit in Central Police Organisations(Delhi). SSC CPO is an excellent chance for aspiring candidates to join paramilitary forces like CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP, and SSB as Sub-Inspectors and ASI (Executive) in CISF. 

Thus, the aspirant should gather proper information concerning the eligibility criteria, and syllabus, before appearing for the SSC CPO 2022 exam. From this article, Candidates will get information regarding the levels of eligibility criteria such as nationality, age limit, and the SSC CPO syllabus.

SSC CPO Syllabus

The syllabus for the SSC CPO exam is specified by the recruiting board on the official website in PDF format. The SSC CPO Syllabus gets updated once every year which is released by the authority for the candidates.  

Candidates must know the SSC CPO syllabus which will help them to put effort into important topics to get ready for the exam. SSC CPO syllabus will give the outlook of difficult topics related to the exam for which candidates can make a preparation strategy for better results. The SSC CPO exam deals with two paper, the syllabus for each paper are stated below-

●  SSC CPO Syllabus Paper 1: Subjects are English, General Awareness, Reasoning, Maths

●   For SSC CPO Syllabus Paper 2: Only English Language.

As the SSC CPO 2022 notification will be held in August 2022, the syllabus is not yet released by the commission. Students can also refer to BYJU’s Exam Prep for more details and assistance. SSC CPO exam is organised in three stages, namely –

●     Paper 1

●     Paper 2

● Physical Efficiency Test (PET)

Candidates are required to clear these stages to get appointed as SI and ASI posts in SSC CPO. 

The above-mentioned SSC CPO syllabus is necessary to study by the candidates for the upcoming exam. Candidates must keep on checking the official website for theupdated syllabus of the SSC CPO exam 2022.

Eligibility Criteria of SSC CPO

Candidates who are willing to attempt the SSC CPO exam must satisfy the eligibility criteria provided by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC). Candidates who fail to fulfil the given eligibility criteria of any level will be disqualified for the SSC CPO exam.

Nationality Criteria for SSC CPO

Nationality is the foremost eligibility criterion among all the criteria that every candidate must know. The candidate who possesses the nationality criteria is allowed to apply for SSC CPO Exam. The condition of nationality criteria are –

  • The candidate must be a citizen of India, Nepal or Bhutan.
  • A candidate who has their Eligibility Certificate issued by the Indian Government. 

SSC CPO Age Limit

The age limit of the candidates is another criterion of SSC CPO along with the relaxation.

●    Candidates who were born between 1st January,1996 to 1st January 2001 can apply for the SSC CPO exam.

● Candidates must be of age between 20 to 25 years.

The details of age relaxation for a certain reserved category with posts- wise are listed below-

●   For SC/ST category- The age relaxation limit is 5 years.

●   For the OBC category- The age relaxation limit is 3 years.

● For Ex-Servicemen (ESM) category – The age relaxation is 3 years. 

Here, we have discussed the eligibility criteria and syllabus for the SSC CPO exam which will benefit the candidates for preparation. Candidates can indulge in these posts to understand the SSC CPO syllabus and eligibility criteria before attending the exam.

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