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Karnataka still continues to make headlines.

“Karnataka Speaker disqualifies three rebel Congress MLAs”, The Hindu headlines, while The Times of India reports: “Karnataka Speaker disqualifies 3 MLAs, case may go to SC today”.

Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar announced that “Congress MLAs Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumathalli and R. Shankar stood disqualified”, writes Hindustan Times. They were part of the “15 MLAs” who had resigned as “legislators three weeks ago”, bringing the coalition to the “brink of collapse”, it says.

TOI brings to light that the strength of the Assembly “is now 222 and the magic number is 112”, leaving the “105 member BJP short of six votes.” The matter “is now expected to shift to the Supreme Court once again” as the “disqualified MLAs may move the apex court” Friday “against the Speaker’s order.”

RTI Bill

HT highlights that the Narendra Modi government managed to “pass the contentious Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019,” in the Upper House “despite having fewer numbers than the Opposition”. The Congress “bristled” at the Bill, which changes the “tenure and salaries of key bureaucrats tasked with providing information, but the ruling National Democratic Alliance “sailed through” by managing the “support of a few neutral regional parties: the BJD, YSRCP and the TRS”, says HT.

TOI writes “in a significant success”, the Modi govt “beat its Rajya Sabha jinx on Thursday” with the RTI Bill being passed “without a division” after an “anticipating test of numbers petered out” with the opposition “choosing to walk out after the headcount tilted towards the NDA”.

Only Hindu mentions the dubious turn of events that led to the passing of the Bill. The “ruckus” began when a CPI(M) member accused BJP MP C.M. Ramesh “of collecting the ballot papers from other members”, instead of “allowing the marshals to do so.” Further, other opposition members informed Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh “of the wrong doing and demanded a re-poll”, but the “Chair didn’t respond to the allegations.” Hindu writes that the opposition then “stormed out raising slogans.”

The Lok Sabha also passed a Bill that “penalises talaq-e-biddat (instant triple talaq)” in the Lok Sabha amid strong protests from the opposition, writes HT.

Express investigation

The Indian Express chooses to run an exclusive investigation as its lead story. “In US, Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay $1 billion for its faulty hip implants, in India brazens it out” — goes the headline.

According to the investigation, Johnson & Johnson “agreed in a Texas court to shell out $1 billion” to settle about “6,000 lawsuits filed against” the “global pharma giant” by patients in the US who used “its defective Pinnacle hip implants”.

In India, “the contrast is stark”, Express says, as the J&J is fighting a government order “asking it to pay Rs 20 lakh to Rs 1 crore to patients who used” its faulty hip implants. The investigation by Express identified “three patients” who were suffering from the “adverse effects of the Pinnacle implants”, these numbers are consistently increasing.

Also making news is the Supreme Court’s decision to “direct the Centre to set up within 60 days one dedicated court in each district where over 100 cases under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act are pending trial”, writes TOI.

This came into place after it was found that the number of victims “compensated under POCSO were 3% in 2015, 4% in 2016 and 5% in 2017.”

Apart from TOI, only Hindu reports the news.

Opinion

TOI: In ‘Terror Shelter’, it credits Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for accepting that Pakistan “shelters terrorists, including those that have carried out militancy in Kashmir.” TOI argues that Khan may be attempting to convince the United States that “his administration recognises the problem of terror and is willing to deal with it”.

However, it still needs to be seen if Khan’s words will be followed with actions. In the past, he has vocally supported Taliban and other extremist groups earning him the title of “Taliban Khan”.

Further, the real power centre of Pakistan remains “the military-ISI complex,” and it is not known whether they share Khan’s sentiments on the issue. New Delhi ought to remain cautious “even as Khan should be given an opportunity to show that he can walk his talk.”

Indian Express: In ‘It takes two’, Express highlights a disturbing trend of the government using its overwhelming majority to push legislations without adequate debate or discussion. This fact is made obvious by the opposition’s demand to table seven key Bills before a parliamentary committee. As was made obvious by the RTI Amendment Bill and now the Triple Talaq Bill, this trend is denying, “important and consequential bills their due scrutiny”.

It also suggests that the government “is turning a deaf ear to the voice of an already diminished Opposition.”

Express argues that in a mandate tilted severely against the opposition, it will have to fight “for every inch of its space”. But, the government also needs to stop viewing the opposition as obstructionist and hear it out. The NDA government will be grossly misinterpreting the people’s mandate if it continues to stifle the opposition.

Prime Time

ABP News: The Lok Sabha took up for consideration the contentious Bill to make the practice of instant triple talaq illegal with up to three years of jail. On ‘Samvidhan Ki Shapath’, anchor Romana Isar Khan discussed the matter.

Zafar Sareshwala, former chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, said, “The whole concept of triple talaq and the way it manifests is against the concept of Islam. Whether the law is passed or not, is not my concern. My point is that had Muslim households and families found a solution to this, we wouldn’t have had to see this day today.”

Shoaib Jamai of Muslim Dalit Adhikar Manch said, “Here we are not discussing what is the belief in Islam. We are discussing the Bill, it will be discussed on the basis of law, not religion.”

Zee News: Anchor Aman Chopra discussed the escalating tensions between the BJP and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.

BJP’s K.K. Sharma said, “BJP is not a Hindutva party, we keep people of all religions in mind. We are the country’s party.”

TMC’s Rahul Chakravarti said, “Subodh Kumar Singh was killed by a mob in Uttar Pradesh, and he was a policeman. In Sonbhadra, a Dalit was killed. Why do we forget them, does the BJP have an answer for this? Who are they to say anything about Mamata Banerjee?”

He added, “I don’t support people being forced to say Mamata Zindabad, that is just as wrong. They should be punished.”

Times Now: In ‘India Upfront’, Rahul Shivshankar discussed the RTI Bill.

“We are against the dilution of the institutions. The RTI came to increase transparency and empower citizens,” said JD(U)’s Pavan K Verma.

BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia pointed out, “Millions of queries filed via RTI have been answered. Functioning and autonomy haven’t been compromised in any way by this amendment.”

RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj, however, disagreed, “Independence and autonomy is absolutely compromised.”

Mirror Now: #TheUrbanDebate on the channel discussed that when 13 Bills, and most recently the RTI amendment Bill, have been passed without scrutiny in Parliament, why isn’t there a Standing Committee?

RTI activist Bhardwaj, who also appeared on this channel, said, “Everything we are seeing today is suggestive of the fact that these are very dark times for democracy. The Right To Information law essentially guarantees us the right to question our government, it is a part of the fundamental freedom of speech and expression in this country.”

BJP’s Shalini Shweta said, “Politics is changing, it is becoming more of performing politics and that is what people are not understanding.”

She continued, “The two most important things about the RTI is the appointment of the chief information officer and autonomy, neither of which have been touched.”

Anchor Faye D’Souza snapped back, “The RTI Information Commissioner is at power with the Election Commissioners because they’re not to answer to government at all. When you change their term and status vaguely, you’re stripping them of all of the autonomy.”

Republic: A row ensued over SP leader Azam Khan’s ‘sexist’ remarks on Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Rama Devi in the Parliament. He later said she was like a ‘sister’ to him. Arnab Goswami said, “Tonight the entire country wants him punished and thrown out of Parliament.”

“Most shockingly, Azam Khan is being supported by Akhilesh Yadav. He is enabling this kind of behaviour,” said author and writer Advaita Kala.

Lawyer Barnali Basak said, “This is not an isolated incident where Azam Khan has made such a remark. He has made many against Jaya Prada. He is sick.”

Political analyst Nishant Verma agreed. “It is a serious matter, sexist remarks or such kind of mindset of such politicians must be killed,” he said.

However, Dr Tasleem Ahmed Rehmani, president of Muslim Political Council of India, disagreed, “The woman in question was enjoying the remark. She was happily taking part in the conversation.”

With inputs from Rachel John.

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