Tuesday, February 7, 2023
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Times Top10: Today’s Top News Headlines and Latest News from India & across the World


5 THINGS FIRST

President Murmu to confer Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards 2023; Temporary ban on plying of BS-III petrol, BS-IV diesel vehicles in Delhi in view of worsening air pollution; Bombay HC to hear petition seeking postponement of JEE Main 2023; Nepal’s PM ‘Prachanda’ to take vote of confidence; First ODI – India Vs Sri Lanka in Guwahati

1. What was the reason to arrest the Kochhars?
1. What was the reason to arrest the Kochhars?
Interim bail

  • The Bombay High Court on Monday granted interim bail to former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar in a loan fraud case, saying their arrest was not in accordance with the provisions of law.

The arrest

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested the Kochhars on December 23, 2022 in connection with the Videocon-ICICI Bank loan case, and they are currently in judicial custody.
  • The couple had filed petitions in the HC challenging their arrest, terming it as illegal and arbitrary. The duo had sought to be released on bail by way of an interim order.

49-page order

  • The high court on Monday came down heavily on the federal agency for making the arrest in a “casual and mechanical” manner and without application of mind.
  • A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and P K Chavan said the petitioners are entitled to be released on bail, pending the hearing and final disposal of the petitions and listed the petitions for hearing on February 6.

Why it’s illegal

  • The bench held that the arrest of the Kochhars was in violation of Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which mandates sending notice for appearance before the police officer concerned.
  • The HC said the arrests in a case may be authorised only if the investigating officer has a reason to believe that the arrest is necessary and the person has committed the crime.
  • “Courts have time and again reiterated the role of courts in protecting personal liberty and ensuring that investigations are not used as a tool of harassment,” the bench said.

The case

  • After registration of the case by the CBI in December 2017, the Kochhars have not only appeared before the agency but also submitted all documents and details, the bench said.
  • “What was the reason to arrest the petitioners after four years is not spelt out in the arrest memos,” the judgment said. More details here
2. How to check fraudulent religious conversions
2. How to check fraudulent religious conversions
What

  • The Supreme Court sought the assistance of Attorney General R Venkataramani on Monday on a plea seeking direction to the Centre and states to take stringent steps to control fraudulent religious conversions. It observed that religious conversion is a serious issue that should not be given a political colour.

Serial petitioner

  • A bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar were hearing a petition by lawyer-activist Ashwini Upadhyay, a BJP member, — who has filed a number of PILs — seeking direction to the Centre and states to take tough steps to control fraudulent religious conversions.

Amicus curiae

  • The bench asked Venkataramani to appear in the matter relating to religious conversions through “intimidation, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits” to assist the court as amicus curiae.
  • “We want your assistance also, AG. Religious conversions by force, allurement etc. There are ways and ways, anything by allurement, if that is happening, when what should be done? What are the corrective measures?” the bench said.

A rebuke

  • At the outset, senior advocate P Wilson, appearing for Tamil Nadu, opposed the petition dubbing it a “politically motivated” PIL, insisting there was no question of such conversions in TN.
  • The bench took an objection, saying, “You may have different reasons to be agitated like this. Don’t convert court proceedings into other things…We are concerned for the entire state. If it is happening in your state, it is bad. If not, good. Do not see it as targeting one state. Do not make it political.”

Court concerned

  • Forced religious conversion may pose a danger to national security and impinge on the religious freedom of citizens, the top court had said recently.

Right to propagate?

  • Last year, responding to the SC notice, the Gujarat government had said that freedom of religion does not include the right to convert others, and requested it to vacate a high court stay on the provision of a state law that mandates prior permission of the district magistrate for conversion through marriage. More here
3. Is Joshimath a ‘man made’ disaster?
3. Is Joshimath a ‘man made’ disaster?
  • Land subsidence in Joshimath is primarily due to messing up with the environment to an extent that is irreversible, experts told news agencies PTI and ANI, adding that rampant infrastructure development without a plan is making the fragile Himalayan ecosystem even more vulnerable to the effects of climate change which acts as a force-multiplier.

‘Messing up with environment’

  • Incidents of land subsidence in Joshimath were reported in the 1970s too. A panel set up under the chairmanship of Garhwal Commissioner Mahesh Chandra Mishra had submitted a report in 1978, saying major construction works should not be carried out in the city and the Niti and Mana valleys as these areas are situated on moraines — a mass of rocks, sediment, and soil transported and deposited by a glacier.
  • “Joshimath is a very grave reminder that we are messing up with our environment to an extent that is irreversible,” Anjal Prakash, one of authors of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told PTI, attributing the crisis to the National Thermal Power Corporation’s Hydro Power Project.

Why man-made?

  • “When construction works start happening in an unplanned way, then it is called man-made reason,” Satyendra Mittal, professor of Civil Engineering Department, Roorkee IIT, told news agency ANI.
  • He further said, “There is under-construction activity in the affected area. Tunnel work is going on and its lining is not completed yet. So in this situation, water, inside the tunnel, seeping out from any point of the tunnel is not surprising … The water which is seeping out from some unknown place of the tunnel must be getting accumulated somewhere and when that water gets accumulated beyond the land’s capacity, it increases hydrostatic pressure, whose aftermath is land subsidence.”

And more…

  • The Congress on Monday described the Joshimath crisis as a “man-made” disaster. They demanded that it should be declared a national calamity and all developmental projects in the area be halted till a report by experts and environmentalists is submitted on the issue.
4. When a governor walked out of the House
4. When a governor walked out of the House
  • The face-off between the ruling DMK and Governor RN Ravi in Tamil Nadu hit a new low on Monday with the government accusing the latter of skipping a few references during his address to the state Assembly, prompting Chief Minister M K Stalin to move a motion to reject the deviations, while Ravi staged perhaps an unprecedented walkout.

Controversial omissions

  • Names of Dravidian stalwarts, including the late EV Ramasamy ‘Periyar’ and CN Annadurai, even though Ravi made a reference to Swami Vivekananda, which did not go unnoticed.
  • A bunch of points which claimed that the government in Tamil Nadu is founded on “the ideals of social justice, self-respect, inclusive growth, equality, women empowerment, secularism and compassion towards all”.
  • The term “Dravidian model”, even as Ravi added some of his own points in his speech.
  • Portions highlighting steps taken by the government to ensure that the state continues to be a “haven of peace and tranquility, free from any form of violence”, news agency PTI reported.

A resolution

  • As Ravi concluded his nearly 50-minute speech, Stalin stood up and moved a resolution seeking to reject the deviations that he made and to declare as valid only the prepared text of the Governor’s address tabled in the House. The DMK and its allies, which includes the Congress and the Left parties, endorsed the resolution.
  • Before Stalin could conclude his remarks, Ravi got up and walked out of the House, before the national anthem was played to officially mark the conclusion of the day’s proceedings.

Government Vs Governor

  • DMK accused Ravi of insulting the national anthem and asserted that the speech was sent to him in advance for approval.
  • But the state BJP threw its weight behind Ravi, describing the incident as “disrespectful and amateurish” and the main opposition AIADMK dubbed the incident as a “disappointment,” adding it was “indecent” on the part of the CM to have “spoken” when the Governor was seated, alluding to the resolution moved by Stalin.
NEWS IN CLUES
5. Identify this Indian cricketer
Clue 1: He shares the world record of most number of catches in an international match
Clue 2: He made ODI and test debut in 2018, a year after his T20i debut for India
Clue 3: He counts among top 10 players in the world to have scored most 90s in their career

Scroll below for answer

6. What a former CM has to do with a sultan
6. What a former CM has to do with a sultan
The players

  • A book titled, “Siddu Nijakanasugalu”, stirred Karnataka politics even before it could be released, with former CM Siddaramaiah calling it an attempt to defame him in the election year. Karnataka goes to the polls later this year.
  • The book apparently draws a parallel between Siddaramaiah’s tenure as Karnataka CM to 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan, whom the BJP brands as a Muslim fanatic.

What’s in the book

  • The book reportedly accuses the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government of “appeasement politics”, highlighting certain controversial and communally sensitive issues and incidents.
  • Posters advertising the book launch event, slated for Monday, showed its cover having a photograph of Siddaramaiah wearing an attire resembling Tipu Sultan and holding a sword.

A complaint

  • Siddaramaiah said, “Everything is yellow for those with a jaundiced eye. Who wore the dress like Tipu and held a sword in their hand? It was Yediyurappa and Shobha Karandlaje. Who wrote the foreword for Sheikh Ali’s book on Tipu, isn’t it duality?”
  • Alleging a BJP role behind the book, Siddaramaiah said, “Purposely, to humiliate me ahead of the elections, they are bringing out a book. It is totally defamatory.”

A relief

  • Siddaramaiah’s son moved a Karnataka court, which on Monday stayed the book release.
  • The court said the book was published without Siddaramaiah’s consent, which is mandatory in such cases.

And, the BJP

  • Karnataka Higher Education Minister CN Ashwath Narayan of the BJP tweeted, “I appreciate the effort to find answers to many questions along with revealing many sensitive issues through the book ‘Siddu Nijakanasugalu’. I am going to participate in the public launch of this book.”

Timing

  • The BJP support to the book comes close on the heels of the Congress’s “PayCM” campaign, launched in September 2022, targeting CM Basavaraj Bommai, alleging the BJP government demands a 40% commission from builders and contractors for approving development projects.
7. Amid ‘anomalies’, a plea to change NRC base year
7. Amid ‘anomalies’, a plea to change NRC base year
A five-member Constitution bench of the Supreme Court will hear a petition today seeking that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam be updated using 1951 as the base year, instead of 1971. Aimed at weeding out illegal immigrants, the NRC update exercise was carried out under the supervision of the top court.

CAG report

  • The hearing comes days after a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) highlighting massive anomalies in the NRC update process was tabled in the Assam assembly.
  • The updated list, released on August 31, 2019, excluded around 19 lakh applicants out of total 3.3 crore.

The plea

  • The plea by the Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha (ASM), an umbrella body of several ethnic organisations, has challenged the constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act 1955, which has a provision for granting citizenship taking March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date in Assam.
  • Section 6A was inserted in the law to facilitate the 1985 Assam Accord, which was inked after a six-year long anti-foreigner movement. The Accord sought the detection and deportation of illegal immigrants irrespective of their religious affiliation.

Assam Vs rest of India

  • ASM has been demanding that 1951 be set as the base year for determining citizenship on par with the rest of India. The first-ever NRC for Assam was published in 1951 as well.
  • The organisation had filed the petition in 2012, which was sent to a Constitution bench two years later. More details here
X-Plained
8. A grim echo of US Capitol invasion
8. A grim echo of US Capitol invasion
Thousands of supporters of ousted former president Jair Bolsonaro stormed Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential offices on Sunday to protest what they allege was a stolen election, the violent culmination of years of conspiracy theories advanced by Bolsonaro and his right-wing allies.

Early warning

  • Brazil is at risk of facing a more serious incident than the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, said the head of the country’s Electoral Court, Edson Fachin, in July last year ahead of the presidential election in October.
  • Earlier in 2022, the electoral court created a transparency commission with representatives of several public institutions, including the military, to ensure greater security for the voting process.

Rerun of Capitol riots

  • Similarities between Sunday’s mob violence in Brazil and the attack on the US Capitol are self-evident: Bolsonaro, the right-wing former president of Brazil, had for months sought to undermine the results of an election that he lost, in much the same manner that Donald Trump did after his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.

Investigations

  • Leftist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who took office on Jan. 1, said the local militarised police force that reports to Brasilia Governor Ibaneis Rocha, a former Bolsonaro ally, did nothing to stop the advance of the protesters. He vowed to bring those responsible for the riot to justice.

Bolsonaro’s future

  • Bolsonaro faces legal risks from several investigations before the Supreme Court in Brazil and his future in the United States, where he travelled on a visa issued only to sitting presidents, is in question.

India concerned

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday expressed his deep concern over rioting and vandalism against state institutions in Brasilia, extending his full support to the Brazilian authorities.
  • US President Joe Biden condemned what he called the “assault on democracy” in Brazil.
9. Is winter colder this year?
9. Is winter colder this year?
The chill

  • For the fifth consecutive day on Monday, Delhi remained colder than most places in Himalayan states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. The cold wave and dense fog reduced visibility to just 25 metres.
  • Meteorologists attribute the long spell of intense cold to western disturbances, causing frosty winds from the snow-clad mountains to blow for a longer-than-usual period.
  • Usually, there is a gap of three-four days between two western disturbances. This time, the gap increased to seven days.

Earlier forecast

  • This cold spell came against the backdrop of an IMD forecast made on December 1 that the winter season (December to February) would be warmer-than-normal for northwest and northeast India and colder-than-normal in southern India.
  • IMD declares a cold wave when the minimum temperature is less than 4°C or below 4.5°C from the normal.

The ground zero

  • Delhi is colder than hill stations — temperature dipping to 1.5°C, lowest since 1.1°C recorded on January 1, 2021.
  • Dense winter fog led to accidents across UP and Bihar. Coal brazier mishap killed five in Rajasthan.
  • In MP’s Naogaon, the temperature reached minus-1°C and in Ranchi to zero°C.

For record

  • On December 30, 2019, Delhi recorded its coldest day since 1901, when record-keeping began, as the city’s maximum temperature dropped to 9.4°C. The previous low was 9.8C on 2 January 2013.
  • Earlier this week, IMD said 2022 was the fifth warmest year for India since 1901. The warmest was 2016.

In the cold countries

  • Across Europe, temperatures for January have reached an all-time high in a number of nations, with national records falling in eight countries.
  • In North America, severe storms during the cold snap left more than 60 dead.

But

  • Expect the cold wave to begin subsiding from today in India, if meteorologists’ forecast stays true.
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES

Rishabh Pant: The government on Monday termed the television news coverage of wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant’s road accident “distasteful” and “heart wrenching”, and asked them to strictly follow the programme code laid down under the relevant law, reported news agency PTI. In an advisory to all private satellite channels, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting cited the coverage of the cricketer’s car crash – along with a bunch of other news stories which involved airing of images of dead bodies and thrashing of a five-year-old boy – to stress that such reporting offended “good taste and decency”.

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta, Abhishek Dey
Research: Rajesh Sharma



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