Arnab Goswami | YouTube screengrab
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It was yet another busy day for the Supreme Court and various stories regarding the apex court made front page news. All papers lead with the top court’s refusal to stay the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) Wednesday, saying that it needs to hear the government’s side as well.

The Ministry of Home Affairs moved the Supreme Court seeking guidelines to “execute the death penalty of condemned prisoners within seven days of rejection of their mercy petitions”, reports The Hindu. The Times of India also carries the report on Page 1.

SC on CAA: Hindu, in its bland way, reports “SC refuses to stay citizenship law without hearing the govt.”, adding that the “CJI indicated the issue may be eventually referred to Constitution bench”. HT follows suit with “Top court refuses to stay CAA, gives govt time to reply”. It also notes that the court has given the government “four more weeks to respond, after a request by Attorney general KK Venugopal.”

TOI carries the report with an accompanying graphic that lists out the comments made by opposition leaders, accepting Home Minister Amit Shah’s challenge to debate the CAA, including Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, JD(U)’s Prashant Kishor and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi.

Express writes, “SC declines to stay CAA or defer NPR, Govt reply in 4 weeks”. Two interesting reports accompany this story — the first is Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement, “No one can dare to touch an Indian Muslim, come to us if any complaint”. The other report is from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh where it reports that the police charged 107 anti-CAA protesters, who were allegedly armed, with rioting but notes a “glaring discrepancy” in the FIR: “it made no mention of when and where the weapons were seized by the police”.

Deadline for execution of convicts: TOI reports that the government told SC that the “convicts misuse norms to delay death sentence”. This response came after “public resentment at condemned prisoners in the Nirbhaya case exploiting Supreme Court-mandated guidelines”, it notes. Meanwhile, Hindu notes that the central government also asserted that rape is not just an “offence against individual and society, but an offence against humanity”. Express and HT don’t carry this story on their front page.

7 killed in Jharkhand: “Seven persons were taken hostage and later killed, allegedly by armed supporters of the Pathalgadi self-rule movement… in Jharkhand,” reports Express, the only paper to cover the story on Page 1. This incident took place days after the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led government withdrew the sedition cases against the Pathalgadi activists.

Others: In an exclusive and a slightly bizarre story, Hindu reports that Punjab’s Chief Minister Amarinder Singh sent a copy of Adolf Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf to Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and advised him to read it and “understand the dangerous implications of the CAA”.

Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in China, HT reports that the death toll rose to 17 and there were also fears that the virus could be adapting and mutating.

TOI, in an exclusive story on its page 1 flap, writes that the government is all set to allow Indian firms to directly list overseas. The report adds, “While detailed discussions on the proposal have taken place, a formal decision is awaited”.


Hindustan Times: HT mentions four things that the upcoming union budget could consider to help boost the rural economy in “Budget: A four-point checklist for rural India”. It writes that the budget should make sure that the delay in payment under Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) should not occur. Second, the government should focus on providing public infrastructure in villages, which would help increase income. Third, the budget should keep up with the commitment to make India self-reliant in edible oils. Fourth, the budget should lay down a policy to deal with climactic events leading to crop losses, it concludes.

The Indian Express: The three capitals of Andhra Pradesh — Visakhapatnam, Kurnool and Amaravati are going to make the day-to-day business of the government, a nightmare, argues Express.

In “3 capital theory”, it writes that the geographical splitting of the capitals has never been attempted before. While the government stated that the idea of decentralisation dates back to the Sri Bagh pact of 1937, Express argues that frequent travelling among different capitals for official work will result in a steep travel bill and the “inefficiencies generated by the system would rapidly erode possible gains in decentralised development”.

In conclusion, it suggests that Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy should use his energies in dealing with farm distress rather than in diluting former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s idea of naming Amravati, the capital.

Prime Time

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) continued to dominate prime time news Wednesday. On India Today, Rajdeep Sardesai asked if the CAA should be left to the courts to decide. While Arnab Goswami on Republic TV debated #VacateShaheenBagh. Meanwhile on his Hindi channel, Republic Bharat, Goswami had different concerns. He opened the debate by claiming that he will be improving everyone’s general knowledge by figuring out if the halwa is Muslim and poori is Hindu. On a ‘sarcastic’ note, Goswami worried if AIMIM chief Asaddudin Owaisi will now ask to boycott gajar ka halwa as it is saffron in color.

Aaj Tak discussed Supreme Court’s orders on the CAA, which asked the government to submit its response within four weeks. While, NDTV was among the few news channels to move away from the CAA, Nidhi Razdan debated the new democracy index and India’s fall by 10 ranks to rank 51 out of 167.

Times Now: On ‘The Newshour’ debate, anchor Padmaja Joshi discussed the Shiv-Sena led Maharashtra cabinet’s order allowing Mumbai’s malls and multiplexes to remain open 24×7.

BJP senior leader Raj Purohit said that the move would result in an increase of rape and assault cases against women. He proudly stated that he has been protesting against nightlife for years, and questioned who exactly wanted restaurants and liquor shops to be open all night, “What tourism are they speaking of, will Americans come all the way to Kala Ghoda to drink?”

The anchor politely fact-checked him, saying that liquor shops and restaurants will actually shut at 1.30 am and the new law is only applicable to malls and multiplexes.

Barely stifling a giggle, Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi chipped in and said that the BJP’s agenda had clearly become one of telling and spreading lies, a hundred or thousand times, till it finally seems like the truth.

CNN-News18: On the #CitizenshipShowdown on ‘#RightStand’, anchor Anand Narasimhan debated the protests at Shaheen Bagh and asked how long it will go on for.

Lawyer Ishkaran Bhandari said, “If their purpose was protest, they could have gone to a park and done a peaceful protest without inconveniencing anybody.”

To which Narasimhan clapped back, “If the purpose was to ensure that citizens are not inconvenienced then the police should’ve cracked down on the first day itself… so there is politics that is being played.”

Political analyst Manojit Mandal said, “The people who have been denied their rights can definitely agitate before the law. They can definitely go to the courts and ask for appropriate relief.”

Zee News: Anchor Aman Chopra led the ‘debate’ over various opposition leaders’ statements, including AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi, regarding the CAA and termed it as a conspiracy to look down on Hindus with the hashtag #KaunBanegaJinnah.

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy commented, “Where were these Muslims all these years? They were defeated and beaten up by Maharana Pratap, Shivaji, etc. If they use such language, Hindus will get offended and then the Muslims would not be able to do anything.”

Islamic scholar Shoaib Jamai asked if Mughals were so cruel, then why were there 80 percent Hindus in 1837 when the Mughals were leaving India?

NDTV India: On ‘Prime Time’, Ravish Kumar said that India’s place had dropped by 10 places in the 2019 Democracy Index. Quoting a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Kumar said that the revocation of Article 370 and the restrictions put in place to execute the decision is one of the major reasons for the fall.

He, then, mentioned that in the press freedom index, India ranked 140 out of 180 countries. Kumar also noted that anti-CAA protests continue in large numbers in Northeast, Bihar, Lucknow and even in New Zealand.

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