A) Delhi Police moves SC against HC bail to 3 student activists in north-east Delhi riots case.
The Delhi Police on Wednesday appealed to the Supreme Court against the grant of bail to student activists Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha, who were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in connection with the Delhi riots that broke out last year after protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) turned violent. The overnight move to approach the top court came after the Delhi High Court made particularly sharp observations in its order, accusing the government of blurring the line between rightful dissent and terrorism. The police had arrested JNU students and Pinjra Tod members Narwal and Kalita last year. Tanha, a Jamia Milia student, was also taken into custody about the same time in May 2020. The trial court had denied them bail, following which they moved the High Court successfully. Narwal was recently given parole to perform the last rites of her father, who had died of Covid-19. It appears that in its anxiety to suppress dissent and in the morbid fear that matters may get out of hand, the State has blurred the line between the constitutionally guaranteed ‘right to protest’ and ‘terrorist activity’, a Bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup J. Bhambhani of the High Court said in a scathing order, releasing the three students on bail. Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the prisons department said that they had not received the release orders for Kalita, Narwal and Tanha as of 10 a.m. on Wednesday even though they had been granted bail on Tuesday.
B) U.P. Police book Twitter, journalists for circulating video, alleges that they tried to provoke communal unrest.
The Uttar Pradesh Police have booked microblogging platform Twitter, a news portal, and six persons in connection with the circulation of a video in which an elderly Muslim man narrates his ordeal after he was allegedly attacked by some people in Ghaziabad, PTI reported. The FIR, which was lodged at the Loni Border police station in Ghaziabad around 11.30 pm on Tuesday on the basis of a complaint lodged by a local policeman, alleges that the video was shared with an intention to provoke communal unrest. In the video clip, which surfaced on social media on June 14, the elderly Muslim man, Abdul Shamad Saifi, alleges he was thrashed by some young men and asked to chant Jai Shri Ram’. However, the Ghaziabad police, who have arrested six persons, including Muslims, have ruled out a communal angle. They said the accused were unhappy about the ‘tabeez’ (amulet) he had sold to them. The arrested youth have been identified as Kalloo and Adil. Apart from them, Polly, Arif, Mushahid, and Parvesh Gurjar were also involved in the incident, Senior Superintendent of Police Amit Pathak said on Tuesday. Later on Tuesday, the police lodged an FIR against Twitter Inc, Twitter Communications India, news website The Wire, journalists Mohammad Zubair and Rana Ayyub, Congress politicians Salman Nizami, Masqoor Usmani, Dr. Sama Mohammad and writer Saba Naqvi for sharing the clip. These people did not verify the truth of the matter and shared it online with a communal angle with an intention to disrupt public peace and create a divide between religious groups, the FIR states. Besides this, Twitter Inc and Twitter Communications India also did not take any measures to remove their tweets, it adds. The FIR has been lodged under Indian Penal Code sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 153A (promoting enmity between groups on ground of religion, class etc), 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious belief), 120B (criminal conspiracy), among others.
C) Twitter failed to comply with IT rules, deliberately chose path of non-compliance: Prasad.
IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on June 16 said Twitter failed to comply with intermediary guidelines and has deliberately chosen the path of non-compliance despite being granted multiple opportunities. Lashing out at the microblogging platform over non-compliance, Prasad said that it is astounding that Twitter, which portrays itself as the flag-bearer of free speech, chooses the path of deliberate defiance when it comes to the Intermediary Guidelines. There are numerous queries arising as to whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbour provision. However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines that came into effect from the May 26, Prasad said in a series of posts on homegrown microblogging platform Koo. Ironically, the Minister also tweeted on the issue. Further, what is perplexing is that Twitter fails to address the grievances of users by refusing to set up a process as mandated by the law of the land. Additionally, it chooses a policy of flagging manipulated media, only when it suits its likes and dislikes, he said. The Minister said that what happened in Uttar Pradesh was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news. While Twitter has been over-enthusiastic about its fact-checking mechanism, its failure to act in multiple cases like U.P. is perplexing as well as points towards its inconsistency in fighting misinformation, he said. Prasad said that Indian companies, be it pharma or IT or others that go to do business in the U.S. or in other countries overseas, voluntarily follow the local laws. Then why are platforms like Twitter showing reluctance in following Indian laws designed to give voice to the victims of abuse and misuse, the Minister questioned.
D) Chirag Paswan says Paras betrayed him when he was bedridden; Paras hints at election for new LJP president.
MP Chirag Paswan addresses a press conference at his residence in New Delhi, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Chirag Paswan on Wednesday accused his uncle Pashupati Nath Paras of betraying him, and the JD(U) of aiding the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) rebels, in crafting the split in the party. Addressing his first press conference since the coup in the party, he, however, carefully sidestepped questions on the BJP’s role but did obliquely express his disappointment that they did not come to his rescue. Paswan said efforts were on to break the LJP even when his father was alive. When asked whether he blames the JD(U), he said, This is an internal matter of my party. How can I blame anyone if my own party members betray me? But yes, I cannot deny the role JD(U) played. They have always believed in divisive politics and in engineering defections. Discontent in the party had been brewing since November 2019, when its founder and Chirag Paswan’s father, Ram Vilas Paswan, decided to anoint the son to the post of national president. The internal differences peaked soon after his appointment. Chirag Paswan replaced Paras, who for long had held the post of Bihar State unit chief, with his younger cousin, Prince Raj. The decision to campaign against the JD(U) and contest the polls alone while remaining in the NDA during the 2020 elections was the last straw. Throughout the poll campaign, Paswan asserted that he remained in the NDA and loyal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He went on to compare his devotion to Modi as that of Hanuman to Lord Ram. When asked at the Wednesday press conference why he did not seek help from his ‘Ram’ (Mr. Modi), he said, If Hanuman has to seek help from Ram, then what is the point of Hanuman or Ram. Minutes after Chirag’s press conference, rebel party leader and his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras reached Patna along with senior party leader Suraj Bhan Singh. Both leaders went into the LJP office amidst heavy police deployment. Tomorrow, there is election for party president, quipped Paras as mediapersons jostled for words from him.
A) Covishield dosage gap increase decision taken on scientific evidence: NTAGI chief.
The increase in gap between two doses of Covishield is based on scientific evidence, said chairman of COVID-19 Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) N.K. Arora. In a release issued by the Union Health Ministry on his interview on DD News Dr. Arora explained that the decision to increase the gap between two Covishield doses from 4-6 weeks to 12-16 weeks lay in the fundamental scientific reason regarding the behaviour of adenovector vaccines. In the last week of April, 2021, data released by Public Health England, the United Kingdom’s executive agency of the Department of Health, showed that vaccine efficacy varied between 65% – 88% when the interval is 12 weeks. This was the basis on which they overcame their epidemic outbreak due to the Alpha variant, he noted. This issue was discussed and with no dissenting notes, the recommendation was that the vaccine interval had to be 12 – 16 weeks. The earlier decision of four weeks was based upon the bridging trial data available then. Dr. Arora pointed to how emerging evidence and reports regarding the efficacy of partial vs full immunisation were being considered by the NTAGI. Two to three days after we took the decision to increase the dosage interval, there were reports from the U.K. that a single dose of AstraZeneca vaccine gives only 33% protection and two doses give about 60% protection; discussion has been going on since mid-May whether India should revert to four or eight weeks, he observed. It was decided to establish a tracking platform to assess the impact of the vaccination programme. When the NTAGI took this decision, we also decided that India will establish a vaccine tracking platform – to assess not only the impact of the vaccination programme, but also the type of vaccine and interval between doses, and what happens when someone is fully / partially immunised. This is very important in India, since around 17 – 18 crore people have received only one dose, while around 4 crore people have received two doses, he stated.
B) Putin, Biden end first round of talks after almost two hours.
U.S President Joe Biden, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for media during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. The first round of talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden have finished after almost two hours, the TASS news agency cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Wednesday. Biden and Putin first met accompanied by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and a pair of translators. Two additional sessions are planned on Wednesday afternoon. with the leaders to be joined by additional aides and translators. On the U.S. side, the larger meetings are set to include Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan, and National Security Council Russia experts Eric Green and Stergos Kaloudis. The Russian delegation is to include Lavrov, Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov, Lavrov’s deputy Sergei Ryabkov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian military Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russian ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov, as well as Kremlin envoys on Ukraine and Syria and Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Overall, the summit is projected to last four to five hours before each leader holds a press conference.