A) 14 J&K leaders invited to meet with PM in Delhi to discuss future course.
As many as 14 leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, including four former chief ministers of the erstwhile State, have been invited for a meeting that will be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on June 24, officials said on Saturday. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla reached out to these leaders to invite them to the meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence to discuss the future course of action for the Union Territory, the officials said. Among those invited are four former chief ministers — Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. Dr. Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah meet Mehbooba Mufti at her residence on October 14, 2020. Four former deputy chief ministers of the erstwhile State — Congress leader Tara Chand, People’s Conference leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig, and BJP leaders Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta — too have been invited to the meet. In addition, CPI(M) leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) chief Altaf Bukhari, Sajjad Lone of the People’s Conference, J-K Congress head G A Mir, BJP’s Ravidner Raina, and Panthers Party leader Bhim Singh have been invited to the meeting. The meeting the first such exercise since the Centre announced the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its bifurcation into Union Territories in August 2019 is likely to be attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other central leaders. When contacted, Omar Abdullah said that he had received an invitation and would go along the direction of the party chief. Sources in the National Conference said that over the next few days, the senior Abdullah will be holding consultations with party leaders. The Political Affairs Committee of the PDP would also be meeting on Sunday to take a decision about the talks.
B) West Bengal post-poll violence: HC asks NHRC to form panel.
The Calcutta High Court has urged the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to constitute a committee to examine complaints of political violence in West Bengal. A bench of five judges of the court directed that the committee shall examine all the cases and, may be by visiting the affected areas, submit a comprehensive report to this court about the present situation. It asked the committee to suggest steps to be taken to ensure confidence of the people that they can peacefully live in their houses and also carry on their occupation or business to earn their livelihood. The court order issued on June 18 stated, The persons prima facie responsible for crime and the officers who maintained calculated silence on the issue, be pointed out. In the 12-page order, the bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, Justices I.P. Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen, and Subrata Talukdar said the State had been denying allegations of political violence from the very beginning but the facts as had been placed on record were different. In our view, this exercise of filing of affidavit and counter-affidavit will continue. It may not lead us anywhere because State, from the very beginning, had been denying everything, but the facts as have been placed on record by the petitioners and also as is evident little bit from the report dated June 3, 2021, filed by the Member Secretary of the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority, are different, the order read. The court observed that against some of the complaints compiled by the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority (WBSLSA), the remarks were that no response had been received from the authority concerned. The State could not be allowed to proceed in the manner it liked.
C) SC flags delay in listing of bail application for more than a year before Punjab and Haryana High Court
A shocked Supreme Court found that a bail application had not even been listed for hearing for more than a year before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, that too at a time when judiciary is going the extra distance to hear cases virtually. A Vacation Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V. Ramasubramanian noted that denial of hearing is an infringement of right and liberty assured to an accused. The top court said it normally did not intervene with the operations of the High Courts, but in this case, it was constrained to take note of the delay in hearing the bail plea. Even during the pandemic, when all courts are making attempts to hear and decide all matter, non-listing of such an application for bail defeats the administration of justice, the Bench recorded in a recent order. The court was hearing a special leave petition filed in an Enforcement Directorate case. Under the prevailing pandemic, at least half of the judges should sit on alternate days so that hearing is accorded to the person in distress. Non-listing of application for regular bail, irrespective of seriousness or lack thereof, of the offences attributed to the accused, impinges upon the liberty of the person in custody, the Supreme Court observed. The Bench said it hoped the High Court would be able to take up the application for bail at an early date so that the right of the accused of hearing of application for bail is not taken away.
D) Kulbhushan Jadhav case: India ‘misrepresenting’ ICJ verdict, says Pakistan.
Pakistan on Saturday accused India of misrepresenting the verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case and asserted that it is ready to fulfill all obligations under the international law. India on Thursday asked Pakistan to address the shortcomings in a Bill brought out to facilitate the reviewing of the case of Jadhav, saying the proposed law does not create a mechanism to reconsider it as mandated by the ICJ. Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi in New Delhi said the Review and Reconsideration Bill 2020 does not create a mechanism to facilitate effective review and reconsideration of Jadhav’s case as mandated by the ICJ judgment. He added that municipal courts cannot be the arbiter of whether a state has fulfilled its obligations in international law. Mr. Jadhav, a 51-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. A man holds a placard depicting Kulbhushan Jadhav in the neighborhood where he grew up, in Mumbai. The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan must undertake an effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also grant consular access to India without further delay. Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) on Saturday said Islamabad abides by all its international obligations, and this applies to the ICJ judgment in the case of Jadhav. It is regrettable that the Government of India has chosen to misrepresent the ICJ judgment which clearly states in Paragraph 147 that Pakistan is under an obligation to provide, by means of its own choosing, effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav, the FO said. In line with paragraph 146 of the ICJ judgment, Pakistan chose to provide Jadhav the right of review and reconsideration by superior courts of Pakistan through the ICJ (Review and Re-consideration) Ordinance, 2020, it said.
E) Covid Watch: Numbers and Developments.
The number of reported coronavirus cases from India stood at 2,98,52,966 with the death toll at 3,85,767. If Covid-appropriate behaviour is not followed and crowding not prevented, the next wave of the viral infection can strike the country in the next six to eight weeks, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria warned on Saturday. Until a sizeable number of the population is vaccinated, Covid-appropriate behaviour needs to be followed aggressively, he said and stressed on the need for stricter surveillance and area-specific lockdowns in case of a significant surge. Guleria reiterated that till now, there is no evidence to suggest that children will be affected more in the next wave of the infection. Earlier, India’s epidemiologists had indicated that a third wave of Covid-19 was inevitable and likely to start from September-October. There needs to be aggressive surveillance strategy in Coved hotspots and lockdowns in case of any significant surge. The moment a significant surge in cases in noted in a particular area and the positivity rate goes beyond 5%, area-specific lockdown and containment measures should be implemented, he said. However, a national-level lockdown cannot be a solution (to rein in the pandemic) keeping economic activity in mind, he added.
A) Afghan President’s places top.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani replaced two top Ministers charged with managing the country’s faltering security on Saturday, as the Taliban pressed on with their campaign to capture new territory in fierce battles with government forces. The shake-up of the Defence and Interior Ministry portfolios comes as violence surges and peace talks remain deadlocked, with the Taliban claiming to have seized more than 40 districts in recent weeks across the rugged countryside. The presidency announced in a statement that General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, who fought under the late anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud during a 1990s civil war, has been appointed the new Defence Minister. Gen. Mohammadi has previously held the Defence Bismillah Khan Mohammadi and Interior Ministry portfolios and also served as the chief of army staff after the fall of the Taliban regime following a U.S .- led invasion in 2001. Mr. Ghani also appointed General Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal as Interior Minister, the presidency said. Mr. Mirzakwal has previously held several regional posts. Gen. Mohammadi replaces Asadullah Khalid, who has repeatedly flown out of the country for treatment to wounds suffered after a suicide bomber attacked him in 2012. The latest Cabinet changes, which have to be approved by Parliament, come with violence increasing since early May after the U.S. military began the formal withdrawal of its last remaining troops. U.S. President Joe Biden has set September 11 the 20th anniversary of the attacks in the U.S. that ledto the invasion of Afghanistan – as the deadline to withdraw American soldiers. The insurgents claim to have seized more than 40 districts since early May, forcing military leaders to strategically retreat from a number of rural districts. The Taliban are now present in almost every province and are encircling several major cities – a strategy the militants employed in the mid-1990s when they overran most of Afghanistan until they were ousted by invading U.S .- led forces.
B) Hard-line judiciary head Ebrahim Raisi wins Iran presidency.
Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief won the country’s presidential election in a landslide victory on June 19, propelling the Supreme Leader’s protege into Tehran’s highest civilian position in a vote that appeared to see the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history. Initial results showed Ebrahim Raisi won 17.8 million votes in the contest, dwarfing those of the race’s sole moderate candidate. However, Raisi dominated the election only after a panel under the watch of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei disqualified his strongest competition. His candidacy, and the sense the election served more as a coronation for him, sparked widespread apathy among eligible voters in the Islamic Republic, which has held up turnout as a sign of support for the theocracy since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Some, including former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for a boycott. In initial results, former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei won 3.3 million votes and moderate Abdolnasser Hemmati got 2.4 million, said Jamal Orf, the head of Iran’s Interior Ministry election headquarters. The race’s fourth candidate, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, had around 1 million votes, Orf said. Hemmati offered his congratulations on Instagram to Raisi early June 19. I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran, he wrote. The quick concession, while not unusual in Iran’s previous elections, signalled what semi-official news agencies inside Iran had been hinting at for hours: That the carefully controlled vote had been a blowout win for Raisi amid the boycott calls. Raisi is the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the U.S. government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticised judiciary — one of the world’s top executioners. His election will put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear programme at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.