It was a busy day for the Supreme Court Tuesday, which is reflected on the front pages today. Hindustan Times and The Times of India reported on the apex court asking Parliament to examine the powers of the speaker in a “case on defection of a Congress MLA from Manipur” (HT). The Indian Express notes that SC agreed to hear telecoms’ plea seeking permission to “negotiate the timeline for payment of adjusted gross revenues”. The Hindu ignores these for Union Minister and Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan’s statement on the National Population Register where he said, “Questions on parents in NPR form may be dropped”.
TOI and Hindu also report on the growth in their readership and circulation: “TOI sees rise in number of young & upmarket readers’’ boasts TOI, “The Hindu is the fastest growing English daily’’, claims Hindu.
Supreme Court: HT notes the Supreme Court’s statement, “It is time that Parliament have a rethink on whether disqualification petitions ought to be entrusted to a Speaker as a quasi-judicial authority when such Speaker continues to belong to a particular political party either de jure or de facto”. TOI adds that the SC “wants tribunal to decide cases of disqualification” and called speakers “partisan”.
In an exclusive report, Express notes that the SC reinstated the woman staffer who had accused former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment. It reports that “she had joined duty and proceeded on leave” and adds that “all her arrears too have been cleared”.
Shaheen Bagh protests: In the hopes of arriving at a solution at Shaheen Bagh, TOI reports that the protesters met Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal. Residents have also “agreed to allow school buses and emergency vehicles to pass through the road where they have been holding a non-stop, sit-in protest” against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) for more than a month.
While anti-CAA protesters are looking for solutions, Home Minister Amit Shah is quite unmoved. In a report right next to the Shaheen Bagh story, TOI carries Shah’s statement saying, “Protests can continue, CAA won’t be repealed”. HT, Hindu and Express carry the Home Minister’s statements on their front pages as well.
NPR and parents’ data: There is yet another clarification on the NPR — Hindu quotes Ram Vilas Paswan to say “the government may consider the widespread demand to remove the questions on date and place of birth of a respondent’s parents from the National Population Register”. Hindu adds that Paswan said that even he did not know his parents’ date of birth.
Others: In another exclusive story, Express reports that “Before it arrested Dubai-based business C C Thampi in connection with a case of alleged money laundering against Robert Vadra… the Enforcement Directorate conducted an independent probe into land deals” between them in Faridabad.
The alarming news of the day — HT writes that “Coronavirus sets off alarm across that world” and that the WHO “called a meeting to consider declaring it a global health emergency”.
The Hindu: The Supreme Court is taking a “narrow and technical view” by declining to stay the operation of the Electoral Bonds Scheme (EBS), writes Hindu in ‘Return of bonds’.
It writes that it is disappointing that the court is “unmoved by submissions that a fresh window for purchase of bonds is set to be opened soon, coinciding with the Delhi Assembly election”.
A petitioner had earlier disclosed that the majority of donations made through electoral bonds had gone to the ruling party, notes Hindu. Even the ECI stated that the provisions within these electoral bonds would enable the creation of companies solely for the purpose of making donations. It notes that the anonymity of these companies gives a clear and unfair advantage to the ruling party. This is a matter that requires early and expeditious decision as delayed hearings have already led to the scheme being opened ahead of every major election, it concludes.
Hindustan Times: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for an emergency meeting to decide whether the spread of coronavirus is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHIEC), notes HT in ‘On tackling coronavirus’.
A PHIEC includes international protocols for diagnosis, containment and treatment. Since 2005, only H1N1, ebola, zika and polio have constituted a public health emergency. If the new virus is not treated now, it will destroy lives and economies for years to come, especially when the world is still recovering from the devastating ill-effects of the previous diseases, it writes.
Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami continued his tirade against Shaheen Bagh protesters, asking when the “siege” against Sarita Vihar, the neighbourhood adjoining the area, and it’s 72,000 residents would stop. Mirror Now televised PM Modi’s ‘Pareeksha Pe Charcha’ programme at New Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium. On NDTV India, Ravish Kumar noted that the PM discussed exams with the students during but asked, “Why is education not an issue during the elections”?
Rajat Sharma on India TV displayed the photographs of government schools in Kashmir, which have become ‘smart schools’, and said that even the people of the Valley could not have anticipated that the change will take place so quickly.
India Today: On ‘News Today’, anchor Rajdeep Sardesai spoke to former Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung, also a former Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia, about the continuing anti-CAA protests. Jung said that if there’s any question in the Muslim mind regarding the CAA, then it needs to be removed.
Sardesai pointedly asked how Jung felt about the accusation that the protests have become anti-Modi and Shah. Jung refuted this, saying it is a protest by citizens who were “concerned at how this process will play out”, and pointed that apart from Shaheen Bagh which has become a “symbol”, even New Delhi’s Geeta Colony is witnessing huge protests by women and children—it is not backed by politicians, he added.
NDTV 24/7: On ‘Left, Right and Centre’, anchor Nidhi Razdan grilled JDU MP Pavan Varma about his “bombshell” letter to Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in which he asked him to take a clear stand on issues like the CAA, NRC and NPR and questioned JDU’s alliance with the BJP in Delhi.
Varma said that the letter was written because a “party like JDU needs to have ideological clarity on what position it needs to pursue”. Razdan countered by asking if there was tension within the JDU. Varma responded that he had spoken to Kumar about his concerns, but had not received a response and felt the principles of the CAA don’t match the party Constitution or even Kumar’s own principles.
Zee News: “We are introducing you to tukde-tukde gang and Afzal-premi gang today”, said Sudhir Chaudhary on his daily news analysis show ‘DNA’. Chaudhury said this in the context of an RTI filed inquiring about the term tukde-tukde gang, to which the home ministry responded that they had no information concerning the same. He said that if Home Ministry could not provide the information, “Zee News is going to do that for you”. Of course, he took no names but made general accusations against some ‘designer journalist’, so-called intellectuals and English-speaking Page 3 celebrities who “always look forward to create sympathy for terrorists and malign the judicial system”.
Chaudhary proclaimed that he was proud of the fact that Zee News came up with this term. Explaining the terms, he said these were people who dream about breaking the country apart.
He quoted a dialogue from the Alia Bhatt’s film Raazi and said, ‘watan ke aage kuch bhi nahin, khud bhi nahin’. (nobody is bigger than the nation, not even self).
ABP News: Rubika Liyaquat went to East Delhi’s Patparganj constituency, which is deputy chief minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia’s constituency.
BJP’s candidate Ravi Negi accused Sisodia of disappearing and said that the people of the area are forced to drink “water from the gutters”.
On this, Liyaquat asked the audience to verify if Negi’s claims were true. Four out of five people said that there was no truth in the BJP candidate’s allegations.