The Supreme Court (SC) has agreed to hear on July 21 a petition “to allow darshan and pooja of the shivling which has been found in the complex and also to direct the ASI to do carbon dating” to determine the age of the Shivling which was discovered during a court commissioner’s survey.
The petitioners seeking restoration of worshipping rights at the Shivling said that since the petition by the Anjuman Intezemia Masjid, which manages Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque, was listed for day after tomorrow, their petition should also be heard alongside it, to which the court agreed.
In addition, the Hindu petitioners have also sought the court’s directions to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to find out the nature of construction underneath the Shivling and have also sought the SC’s directions to the Centre to install equipment for live streaming to enable virtual darshan for the devotees.
The SC’s decision to hear the Hindu parties’ plea is a marked change from its earlier position when it transferred a petition filed by Hindu women — who were seeking the right to worship the shivling in the Gyanvapi mosque — to the Varanasi District Court from the Civil Judge Junior Division, where it is still being heard.
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Election to choose the 15th President of India was held on Monday in a race between the BJP’s Droupadi Murmu and the opposition’s Yashwant Sinha. A total of 776 Members of Parliament and 4,033 MLAs were eligible to vote. in the presidential election. Votes will be counted on July 21 and the new President will take oath on July 25.
Of 736 electors (727 MPs and nine MLAs) permitted to vote at the Parliament Complex, 728 cast their votes — 719 MPs and nine MLAs. Eight MPs abstained — including two each from the BJP and the Shiv Sena, one each from the Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM. More here
Ballot papers are used in the presidential election unlike the general elections. The EVMs are designed for direct elections while presidential polls are indirect, based on proportional representation.
Droupadi Murmu, 64, is set to become the youngest President of India — also the first tribal person to hold the country’s highest office. Like incumbent Ram Nath Kovind, Murmu is a former governor.
Breaking ranks: Murmu saw non-BJP parties and legislators switching sides to support her — including the Congress’s ally Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Shiv Sena and the Biju Janata Dal.
Congress MLA from Odisha Mohammed Moquim defied his party and voted for Murmu saying, “It’s my personal decision as I’ve listened to my heart.”
Boycott: An Akali Dal MLA, Manpreet Ayali, went against the party backing Murmu to boycott the presidential election citing “sentiments of the Sikh community” in Punjab, which has no tribal population.
Meanwhile, the NDA’s Vice Presidential candidate Jagdeep Dhankhar filed his nomination on Monday in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders. He is up against the opposition’s Margaret Alva for the August 6-election.
As expected, the monsoon session of Parliament began on a stormy note on Monday leading to adjournment of the two Houses as Opposition lawmakers raised issues ranging from price rise to the controversial military recruitment scheme, ‘Agnipath’.
What PM said
Pandemonium erupted even as PM Modi urged MPs before the start of the parliamentary proceedings to make the session as productive as possible and called for debate, criticism and analysis for positive contribution to policies and decisions.
In a lighter vein, he remarked that in Delhi rains have begun, but the heat outside is not reducing and wondered whether the heat will come down inside Parliament.
Naidu’s last session
Presiding over his last session as Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, M Venkaiah Naidu also urged MPs to be “different and better” than they were in the past five years when 57 per cent of House sittings were partly or fully disrupted. Naidu’s five-year term as Vice President and Chairman of the Upper House ends on August 10.
And the ruckus…
The morning session of the Lok Sabha was adjourned to allow members to vote in the presidential election amid the opposition ruckus. After the House re-convened at 2 pm, members of Left parties were in the well of the House waving placards protesting rising inflation.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury earlier said the Opposition wanted a discussion on the Agnipath scheme and other issues. Amid the din, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju introduced the Family Courts (Amendment) Bill.
In the Rajya Sabha, slogan-shouting Congress members trooped to the Well of the House raising issues relating to price rise and GST.
Who is a minority? The Centre’s notification issued in 1993 identifies Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis as minorities at national level.
Contention: A PIL filed by Hindu spiritual leader Devkinandan Thakur challenged the 1993-notification while seeking direction for recognition of minorities at the district level, and considering Hindus as minority accordingly.
The Supreme Court, however, sought “concrete cases” be presented to it before it could consider expanding the ambit of minority status beyond the six religious communities.
Arguments: The petitioner argued that several Supreme Court rulings favoured minorities to be notified at state-level. He said, “We are talking about Hindus being denied minority status. It is believed that Hindus cannot be a minority.”
Justice UU Lalit of the bench, also comprising Justices Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia, orally observed, “If there is a concrete case that Hindus are being denied a minority status in Mizoram or Kashmir, we can consider this…Until and unless we get a concrete situation, we can’t deal with this.”
Centre’s stand: On a separate petition for minority tag for Hindus, the government in May this year told the Supreme Court that power to take such a decision was vested with the Centre. A year ago, the Union minority affairs ministry had told the court that states could grant minority status to communities.
A relief: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday directed the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Police “that no precipitative action whatsoever be taken against” Alt News founder Mohammed Zubair till tomorrow, without prior permission from the court. Zubair is facing five FIRs against him — one each at Lakhimpur Kheri, Muzaffarnagar and Ghazibad and two at Hathras. The court listed the matter for hearing on July 20.
Legal maze: Terming it as a “vicious cycle”, the court noted that the “contents of all FIRs seem to be similar” and noted that “what seems to be happening is, as he gets bail in one case, he is remanded in another.” Zubair has been granted interim bail by the SC in the Sitapur FIR and regular bail by the Patiala House Court in the Delhi Police FIR.
The cases: The FIRs in Sitapur and Lakhimpur Kheri were for tweets posted by him — in the former, he was accused of hurting religious sentiments by calling Mahant Bajrang Muni, Yati Narsinghanand and Swami Anand Swaroop “hate mongers” while in the latter, he was accused of promoting enmity between different religious groups by a journalist from a TV channel, whom Zubair had called out for airing a fake image of an Israeli air strike in Gaza.
A prayer: Zubair, who was first arrested by the Delhi Police on June 27 for a tweet posted by him in 2018, has sought quashing of the FIRs against him by the UP Police. Alternatively, he has asked that all the FIR be clubbed together with the Delhi Police’s FIR. He also sought interim bail in all the FIRs registered against him and has also challenged the constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) by the UP government to probe the cases against him. On Monday, Zubair was produced before the chief judicial magistrate in Hathras with the police seeking a 14-day custody.
Monkeypox imported: India now has two confirmed monkeypox cases. Both the cases were detected in Kerala. Both individuals flew in from The United Arab Emirates (UAE). Monkeypox cases have globally spiked since May, triggering a public scare even as another viral pandemic stays unfinished.
Who? A Kerala man, 31, tested positive for monkeypox on Monday. He came from Dubai on July 13. The patient, being treated at Pariyaram Medical College in Kannur, is stable.
Response: The Centre has asked ports and airports to screen all international travellers to contain the spread of monkeypox.
Last week, another man had tested positive for monkeypox on his return from the UAE to Kerala
Back then, the Centre had rushed a team of experts from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to assist the Kerala health authorities.
Emergency? The WHO is expected to reconvene its expert monkeypox committee on July 21 to decide whether the outbreak constitutes a global health emergency. A surge in monkeypox infections has been reported since early May outside the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.
At greater risk: The WHO said most monkeypox infections have been detected in men who have sex with men, of young age, — three-fifths identifying — particularly in the urban areas.
Symptoms: The initial symptoms include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and chickenpox-like rashes on the body.
Compared to Covid-19, monkeypox is less infectious but can be fatal in children.
Why monkeypox: The disease was first detected among monkeys in 1958. Rodents are said to be the main source of transmission. Monkeypox spreads through close contact, both with animals and other humans. More here
A district court in Delhi on Monday upheld the conviction of real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal for tampering with evidence in a case related to the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire. It will hear arguments on the quantum of punishment on Tuesday.
The fire tragedy
The incident happened at Uphaar cinema in south Delhi during the screening of the Hindi film ‘Border’ on June 13, 1997, claiming 59 lives.
A magisterial court had convicted and awarded 7-year jail terms to the Ansal brothers in the case, besides imposing a fine of Rs 2.25 crore on each of them.
Former court staff Dinesh Chand Sharma and two others — P P Batra and Anoop Singh – were also awarded the same jail term and a fine of three lakh rupees each.
This case is related to tampering with the evidence in the main fire tragedy case in which the Ansals were convicted and sentenced to a 2-year jail term by the Supreme Court.
The apex court, however, released them taking into account the prison time they had done on the condition that they pay a Rs 30 crore fine each, to be used for building a trauma centre in the national capital.
On Monday, the district court dismissed the appeal filed by the accused challenging their conviction by the magisterial court. More details here
Sri Lanka’s Opposition on Monday dubbed acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s decision to impose a state emergency, which gave him sweeping powers, an “undemocratic draconian act”.
Ahead of the key election on July 20 to pick a new president, Wickremesinghe declared the emergency as protests demanding his resignation continued in most parts of the country.
This means that security forces gain the power to search, arrest, seize and remove weapons and explosives, and enter and search premises or persons.
His office issued a special statement in which he called upon the political parties to put aside their differences and not allow the country to suffer over differences over an individual.
Wickremesinghe was sworn-in as the acting president on Friday after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned after fleeing to Maldives and then Singapore. He is one of the contenders for the President’s post. More details here
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SpiceJet. The Delhi High Court dismissed a petition seeking to ground all the aircraft of the budget carrier due to a spate of snags in the last month and a half, which even prompted the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to issue a show cause notice to the cash strapped airline to explain why action shouldn’t be taken against it for “degraded safety margins” and adopting a “poor internal safety oversight and inadequate maintenance actions.” Modiluft, which suspended operations in 1996, was renamed SpiceJet when the latter started operations in 2005. It was owned by media magnate Kalanithi Maran between 2010 and 2015.