From Bihar MLC’s son allegedly shooting a 20-year-old to Supreme Court upholding defamation as a criminal act and Sushil Kumar being left out of Indian Rio Olympics plans, here is your weekly digest of news.
Sunday - 8th May
Indian Army may cut non-combat jobs
Army chief General Dalbir Singh has ordered a study to determine how the 1.2-million strong Indian Army, can be rightsized, said a top army officer familiar with the plan.
The chief has asked one of his senior-most generals to come up with recommendations by August-end to initiate targeted reductions to improve the force’s tooth-to-tail ratio — the number of personnel (tail) required to support a combat soldier (tooth).
The army has a sanctioned strength of 49,631 officers but is short of 9,106 officers. Reorienting roles of officers could help improve the ratio.
Bihar MLC’s son kills 20 year old
The son of a ruling Janata Dal (United) lawmaker allegedly shot dead a 20-year-old student in a case of road rage in Bihar’s Gaya town on Saturday night, triggering a wave of protests against the Nitish Kumar government.
Police said member of the legislative council (MLC) Manorama Devi’s son, Rocky, sprayed bullets on a car --- in which Aditya Kumar Sachdeva was travelling with four friends --- after an altercation over overtaking. A bullet pierced through the rear windshield and fatally hit Aditya’s head. He was in the back seat.
Monday - 9th May
NEET stays, states barred from holding medical exam
Rejecting the states’ demand for their own entrance examinations, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that all admissions to medical and dental courses would be held on the basis of a single National Eligibilitycum-Entrance Test (NEET).
“It is also clarified that only NEET would enable students to get admission to MBBS or BDS studies,” a bench headed by justice AR Dave said.
However, the court gave relief to students who complained of not getting enough time for NEET-1 held on May 1. It said students would be allowed to appear in the second phase of the test on July 24, provided they gave up their NEET-1 score.
BJP waves Modi’s degrees, AAP says they are forged
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made public on Monday what it said were Narendra Modi’s university degree certificates, seeking to blunt opposition allegations that the Prime Minister had fabricated his education qualifications.
The party deputed its top leaders — Amit Shah and finance minister Arun Jaitley — to defend Modi’s qualifications that became a subject of intense speculation after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed the Prime Minister had faked them.
The BJP leaders accused Kejriwal of lowering the level of public discourse in the country and sought an apology from him.
But within an hour of the BJP’s press conference, Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said Modi’s certificates were forged, citing what it said were “glaring discrepancies” in various details on the documents.
Tuesday - 10th May
Second year in a row, IAS topper is a Delhi woman
A 22-year-old woman from Delhi topped the 2015 civil services examination on her first attempt and a railway officer from Jammu and Kashmir secured the second position as the results of one of India’s toughest tests were announced on Tuesday.
A total of 1,078 candidates cleared the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam. Tina Dabi topped the test, followed by Athar Aamir Ul Shafi Khan and Delhi’s Jasmeet Singh Sandhu.
Diesel cabs can operate in Delhi-NCR till permit expires: SC
The Supreme Court said on Monday diesel taxis with national permits could ply in Delhi until their permit expired but banned new registrations of such vehicles that provide pick-up and drop facilities in the Capital.
The order is a relief for commuters, who struggled with traffic snarls and protests after the top court’s April 30 order – that banned diesel taxis in Delhi to improve air quality – forced over 50,000 All India Tourist Permit (AITP) cabs off city roads.
Getting Mallya back becomes difficult
Britain has refused to deport Vijay Mallya and asked New Delhi to seek his extradition, the government said on Wednesday, in a setback to India’s efforts to bring back the embattled liquor baron who left the country owing more than 9,000 crore to a consortium of banks.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley told the Rajya Sabha that India will initiate the process of extraditing Mallya to face investigators probing money laundering charges. The British government’s response came nearly a fortnight after India made a request for the deportation of Mallya, whose diplomatic passport was revoked last month.
Cancellation of passport “does not result in automatic deportation, that is the stand taken by UK”, Jaitley said. Mallya resigned from the Rajya Sabha this month.
SC declares Harish Rawat winner in Uttarakhand assembly trust vote
The Supreme Court on Wednesday formally declared Harish Rawat the winner in the Uttarakhand assembly trust vote after which President’s rule was lifted in the state, facilitating his return as chief minister.
Shortly after the top court’s order, the Union cabinet recommended revocation of President’s rule, which was done later in the evening, ending nearly two months of a political impasse in the state.
Congress vice- president Rahul Gandhi was quick to react, saying “democracy won in Uttarakhand”.
Thursday - 12th May
India chokes up list of top polluted cities
Half of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India, said a World Health Organisation report released on Thursday, indicating industrial and vehicular exhaust were choking large parts of the country with little oversight or a monitoring mechanism.
Delhi is no longer the world’s most polluted city, dropping to 11th position with smaller towns galloping past the Capital.
The top spot is taken by the Iranian city of Zabol that falls in the middle of a dust bowl. Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh and Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh take second and third spots, respectively.
Delhi’s pollution levels improved slightly with PM 2.5 concentration recorded at 122 micro gram per cubic metre of air — still six times above the WHO safety limit of 20 and three times above the Indian standard of 40.
Sushil Kumar may move court for Rio berth
Sushil Kumar plans to take his Olympic ticket hunt all the way to court with the Wrestling Federation of India making it clear it is not in favour of his demand for a selection trial.
The double Olympic medallist will file a motion in the Delhi high court in a day or two, a source told HT, saying, “It is one of the options but we hope the matter is resolved before this.”
Kumar — who seems almost certain to miss the Rio Games in August with his name left out of the list of probables sent to the Indian Olympic Association, as reported by HT on Thursday — has been demanding trials in the 74kg weight category. Making his chances bleaker is the fact that the younger N ar sing hP an ch am Ya dav has already bagged a quota in this division with a bronze finish at the 2015 Worlds in Las Vegas.
Friday - 13th May
Free speech not absolute, criminal defamation stays
Defamation will remain a criminal offence in India, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday, rejecting pleas from top politicians and public intellectuals that the British-era provision was an outdated idea that undermined free speech.
The verdict deals a blow to advocates of free speech, who had hoped to nudge the courts to either abolish or water down the criminal defamation law which, they say, discourages dissent and forces people to hold back even fair criticism of powerful people.
The court said the right to speech was sacrosanct but not absolute, and that one’s right to reputation was part of one’s fundamental right to life.
Hindustan bureau chief gunned down in Bihar
A senior journalist and Siwan bureau chief of Hindi daily Hindustan was shot dead on Friday, the latest in a string of crimes that underline the deteriorating law and order situation in Bihar.
Five criminals on motorcycles shot two bullets at 42-year-old Rajdeo Ranjan while he was on his way home on a bike. One bullet hit Ranjan on the head and the other on the neck. He was taken to the hospital but was declared dead.
Ranjan worked for Hindustan — a sister concern of Hindustan Times and one of Bihar’s largest circulating newspapers — for 20 years. Police launched a manhunt to catch the killers. The motive behind the murder wasn’t known.
India is considered one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world with political influence mixed with a nexus between criminals and industry causing a surge in crimes against reporters.
NIA clears Sadhvi, says police likely planted RDX in Malegaon
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) dropped all charges against religious leader Pragya Thakur and five others for lack of evidence in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, saying a shoddy probe by Maharashtra authorities forced the U-turn.
The investigators revoked provisions of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in the case and alleged the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) planted explosives on one of the accused.
The September 2008 blast in the Muslim-majority Malegaon town killed six people and injured 101. HT had reported on April 24 that the NIA was planning to let Thakur and others off the hook for lack of evidence.
Saturday - 14th May
US backs India for NSG spot after China red flag
The US has reiterated its backing for India’s candidature for the Nuclear Suppliers Group after China defended its move to block India’s entry on the ground that it had not signed on to a key global non-proliferation treaty.
Reports have suggested China is acting at the behest of its key ally Pakistan to block India’s efforts to join the 48-nation bloc, a move that will make it easier access nuclear technology and know-how.
“I’d point you back to what (President Ba rack O ba ma) said during his visit to India in 2015, where he reaffirmed that the US view was that India meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for NSG membership,” state department spokesperson John Kirby said on Friday. He was responding to a question on the reports that China and Pakistan have come together to oppose India’s candidature for the NSG.
“Deliberations about the prospects of new members joining the NSG are an internal matter among current members,” he said. “I’m going to refer you to the governments of China and Pakistan with respect to their positions on India’s membership.”
Ahmedabad might soon be known as Karnavati, Hyderabad as Bhagyanagar and Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar, if the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has its way.
The Sangh that was crucial in pushing through Gurgaon’s name change to Gurugram last month is now preparing for more such “reversals” to highlight Indian culture and cleanse foreign influence.
Critics say the name changes are an attempt to re-write India’s history and extend the Sangh’s cultural influence.
The RSS has made such attempts in the past but its clout in the BJP — that rules Gujarat and Maharashtra among other states — strengthens the possibility of such changes being accepted by governments.