Times Top10: Today's Top News Headlines and Latest News from India & across the World

Times Top10: Today’s Top News Headlines and Latest News from India & across the World


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5 THINGS FIRST

Sonia Gandhi to hold meeting with Opposition leaders; NATO ‘extraordinary’ meeting to discuss Afghanistan; German Chancellor Angela Merkel to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow; Delhi High Court to hear Mehbooba Mufti‘s plea in money laundering case; Delhi court to hear bail plea of former Congress Councillor Ishrat Jahan in Delhi riots case

1. Don’t arrest people just because law allows it: SC
  • Holding personal liberty as an important aspect of constitutional mandate, the Supreme Court has said that arrests should not be done in a routine manner when the accused is co-operating in a probe. Arrest causes incalculable harm to a person’s reputation and self-esteem, it said.
  • “The occasion to arrest an accused during investigation arises when custodial investigation becomes necessary or it is a heinous crime or where there is a possibility of influencing the witnesses or accused may abscond. Merely because an arrest can be made because it is lawful does not mandate that arrest must be made. A distinction must be made between the existence of the power to arrest and the justification for exercise of it,” the bench said.
  • “If the investigating officer has no reason to believe that the accused will abscond or disobey summons and has, in fact, throughout cooperated with the investigation, we fail to appreciate why there should be a compulsion on the officer to arrest the accused,” it said.
  • The bench lamented that despite comprehensive guidelines issued by the apex court way back in 1994, routine arrests are being made and even lower courts insist on such a course when a chargesheet is filed in a non-bailable and cognizable offence.
  • While interpreting Section 170 of Criminal Procedure Code under which the trial courts insist arrest of the accused, the bench said it does not impose an obligation on the officer-in-charge to arrest each and every accused at the time of filing of the chargesheet.
  • “The word custody appearing in Section 170 of the CrPC does not contemplate either police or judicial custody but it merely connotes the presentation of the accused by the investigating officer before the court while filing the chargesheet,” it said.
  • The court passed the order on a plea of an accused seeking anticipatory bail as arrest memo was issued against him as a trial court in Uttar Pradesh took a view that unless the person is taken into custody, the chargesheet will not be taken on record in view of Section 170 of the CrPC.
2. Ordinary Afghans defy Taliban, many killed
  • The Taliban violently cracked down on the first real opposition they faced to the takeover of Afghanistan as protesters took to the streets in several cities, waving the black, red and green national flag on Thursday.
  • In Kabul, a procession of cars and people protested near the city’s airport. Scattered protests were also held in the provinces of Nangarhar, Khost, Paktia and Kunar and in the city of Jalalabad.
  • Several people were killed when Taliban militants fired on a crowd in the eastern city of Asadabad, Reuters report.
  • While some of the demonstrations — which coincided with the Afghan Independence Day and the Shiite Ashura festival — were small, set against a desperate scramble of people seeking to flee the country, they were a potent act of defiance. The violent crackdown shattered the moderate image the Taliban were projecting.
  • There were other signs that the Taliban was not keeping the promises its leaders have made. The militants have been conducting door-to-door visits searching for people who worked with US and NATO forces, a United Nations report says. They are also screening individuals on the way to Kabul airport and have set up checkpoints in major cities, the report states.

Also…

  • Ahmad Massoud, the son of guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud who led the Northern Alliance in the late ’90s, in an op-ed published by the Washington Post, called on the Western powers to support his “mujahideen resistance” with weapons.
  • External affairs minister S. Jaishankar called out Pakistan for providing “state hospitality” to terrorists. “Whether it is in Afghanistan or against India, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammed continue to operate with both impunity and encouragement. It is, therefore, vital this council does not take a selective, tactical or even a complacent view of the problems we face,’’ he said at the UNSC meet.
3. HC stays parts of Gujarat’s anti-conversion law
  • Observing that “merely because marriage is solemnised by a person of one religion with another religion”, the Gujarat High Court (HC) on Thursday passed an interim order saying that provisions of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 will not apply to marriages solemnised “without force or allurement or fraudulent means” and that “such marriages cannot be termed as marriages for the purposes of unlawful conversion.”
  • The HC clarified that objective of the order was to safeguard interfaith couples “from being unnecessarily harassed” by the application of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, which was notified on April 1 this year and is a copy-cat version of the so-called anti-love jihad laws brought in by the state governments in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Madhya Pradesh (UP).
  • Singling out specific provisions of the Act — Section 3, 3A, 4, 4A, 4B, 4C, 5, 6 and 6A — the court remarked that both religion and marriage were matters of personal choice and as such, these provisions will not apply to interfaith marriages between two consenting adults.
  • For instance, under Section 3A of the Act, “any aggrieved person, his parents, brother, sister, or any other person related by blood, marriage or adoption may lodge an FIR” against an interfaith couple, alleging unlawful religious conversion. Prior to the HC’s order, any such FIR would have resulted in the persons being sent to jail, with the onus of proving their innocence lying on the accused.
4. Over 38 million missed their second dose schedule
  • Over 38.6 million people did not get the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccines in the stipulated schedule, the union government said in response to an RTI query.
  • As of August 17, 34 million people missed the second dose of Covishield and over 4.6 million missed the second dose of Covaxin in the recommended time. India recommends a gap of 12 to 16 weeks between the two doses of Covishield, and 4 weeks between the two doses of Covaxin.
  • A recent study on Covid infections among healthcare workers at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi, found that a single dose of vaccine does not offer significant protection against symptomatic or severe Covid-19 infections.
  • The government response did not mention why these many people missed their second dose schedule. Several states had complained of vaccine shortage before, forced by the Supreme Court, the union government centralised the procurement of the vaccines.
  • But even now, the government is behind schedule to meet its target of fully vaccinating all adults by the end of 2021.
  • Based on the data from the last two weeks, India has been administering an average of 5.5 million doses a day. At that rate, India can vaccinate all adults only by April 2022. More on this here
vaccination data

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry said it was “closely following the developments in the United States” on booster dose (a third dose) to fortify the immune system against the Delta variant.

6. HC orders CBI probe into Bengal post-poll violence
The Calcutta High Court (HC) on Thursday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take over the investigation of all cases “where allegations are about murder of person or crime against women regarding rape or attempt to rape.”

Taking charge

  • The HC also ordered the investigation of all other cases, mentioned by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in its report on the post-poll violence that afflicted West Bengal in May earlier this year, by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
  • The HC’s order came in response to a clutch of petitions that allege government inaction against acts of violence attributed to members of the ruling Trinamool Congress against those who supported the BJP in the assembly polls.
  • Both the CBI and SIT probes will be monitored by the HC.
  • The SIT will have three Indian Police Service (IPS) officers from the West Bengal cadre — Suman Bala Sahoo, Soumen Mitra and Ranvir Kumar — under the supervision of a retired judge of the Supreme Court (SC) whose name will be disclosed later, the court said.

What else?

  • The HC also directed the state government to immediately pay the compensation due to victims of the post-poll violence and also rejected the state’s contention that the NHRC, which had submitted a court-ordered fact finding report, was biased.
  • The HC however, was unsparing in its criticism of the NHRC fact finding committee, which, it said, had “transgressed its limits” by making “scathing remarks” and “recommendations against politicians and police officers.” It also took exception to the inclusion of two members in the committee — Rajulben Desai and Atif Rashid — as they have been associated with the BJP, saying “it might raise reasonable likelihood of bias.”
  • Even so, the court said “the allegation of bias against the Committee is not material because this court has considered not only the report of the Committee but other materials as well.” The court has given both the CBI and SIT six weeks to submit their status reports, with the next hearing scheduled for October 4.
7. China pushes linguistic integration of Tibet
  • A top Chinese Communist Party official said Thursday “all-round efforts” are needed to ensure Tibetans adopt the language, cultural symbols and images of the Chinese nation, as Beijing marked the 70th anniversary of the annexation of Tibet.
  • Wang Yang, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee and in charge of the organisation responsible for uniting all races and all parties under the leadership of the Communist Party, made the remarks at the Potala Palace in Lhasa.
  • He also called on Tibetans to accept the party’s rule. “Tibet can only develop and prosper under the party’s leadership and socialism,” he said.
  • China marked the anniversary with a propaganda blitz on state-run publications, touting the “liberation” of Tibet and its development under its rule. Since 1951, Tibet has “embarked on a path from darkness to brightness, from backwardness to progress, from poverty to prosperity, from autocracy to democracy, and from closeness to openness,” Wang said.
  • The Dalia Lama was also targeted on the occasion. “We have seen the true face of the 14th Dalai Lama. We will not be deceived anymore,” The Global Times quoted a “representative of local residents” as saying.
  • The anniversary comes as Beijing steps up its infrastructure projects in Tibet to further integrate the region and gain a logistics advantage over India. Beijing recently inaugurated a 435-km railway network running from Lhasa to Nyingchi, which lies close to Arunachal Pradesh.
8. Why court discharged Tharoor in Pushkar case
  • There is nothing, even prima facie, to suggest that there was any wilful conduct on the part of Shashi Tharoor that was likely to drive his wife, Sunanda Pushkar, to suicide or to cause injury or danger to life, limb or health. Making this observation, a Delhi court has discharged him in the case of death of his wife.
  • The court said that Pushkar might have felt distressed or mentally disturbed over the alleged extra-marital relation of Tharoor, but mental disturbance does not amount to the offence of abetment.
  • Special judge Geetanjali Goel discharged him for offences under sections 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and 306 (abetment to suicide) of IPC.
  • The court observed that it cannot be said that suspicion, much less grave suspicion, existed in the present case to charge the accused for the offence under section 302 (murder) of IPC.
  • “There is nothing on record to show that the accused did some act in order to irritate or annoy the deceased until she reacted or strongly persuaded or advised the deceased to do some act with the intention to provoke, incite, urge or encourage the latter to commit suicide,” the court said in its order.
  • Pushkar was found dead in a room of a five-star hotel in Delhi on January 17, 2014. An FIR had been registered by the police on January 1, 2015, against unknown persons for murder. Tharoor was later booked for subjecting a woman to cruelty and abetment to suicide.
9. Facebook wants to be your office, not a distraction
  • Facebook on Thursday unveiled a test of its new virtual reality (VR) remote work app where users can hold meetings as digital avatars on themselves. The test programme — or beta version in tech lingo — is part of the company’s ambition to create a complete digital universe.
  • Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg has said he wants Facebook to be a “metaverse company”, and not simply a social media company. Metaverse is the term technologists use for a future world where we all spend much of our time in an immersive virtual world, our digital avatars socialising, working, and partaking in recreational activities. The term was coined in the 1992 dystopian novel “Snow Crash”.
  • The sci-fi future can wait, for now. On Thursday, Facebook unveiled an early version of its Horizon Workrooms. Users could put on the Oculus VR headphones and interact as their avatars in a virtual meeting room. The app allows up to 16 people to join the virtual meeting. Up to 50 co-workers could join in without the VR headphones, and they will appear on a screen in the virtual meeting room — like a regular Zoom meeting. Facebook bought VR headphone maker Oculus in 2014. The Verge has got more on this.

But… the grand ambitions are likely to only increase the regulatory scrutiny, which is already intense: The US FTC on Thursday filed a reworked antitrust case against Facebook.

Answer to NEWS IN CLUES
Amazon. The e-commerce behemoth plans to open several large physical retail stores in the US to extend its reach in sales of clothing, household items and electronics, among others, the Wall Street Journal reports. The first such department stores are expected to be opened in Ohio and California.

Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl
Research: Rajesh Sharma





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