QBullet: SC to Probe ‘Fixers’, Madras HC Lifts TikTok Ban & More

1. Apex Court Seeks Help of CBI, IB, Cops to Probe Role of 'Fixers' in Judiciary

The bench justified the decision stressing that allegations made by lawyer Utsav Bains that he was offered a bribe of Rs 1.5 crore to frame CJI Gogoi in a false case of sexual harassment was very serious.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 24 April, sought the assistance of top investigating and intelligence agencies to probe a “set of fixers” in the judiciary who allegedly seek to manipulate judicial proceedings and have been accused of conspiring with a corporate figure to frame the Chief Justice of India in a sexual harassment case.

Keen to swiftly settle the controversy arising out of a lawyer’s sensational claim that there is a “cash-for-judgment club” operating in Delhi to influence court proceedings, a special bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, RF Nariman and Deepak Gupta called the heads of the CBI, the Intelligence Bureau and Delhi Police for in-camera consultations.

The bench justified the decision stressing that allegations made by lawyer Utsav Bains that he was offered a bribe of Rs 1.5 crore by a person named Ajay to frame the CJI in a false case of sexual harassment and three dismissed SC employees ganging up with “fixers” was very serious.

(Source: The Times of India)

Also Read: Will Justice Gogoi Be Able to Fix a Broken Judiciary From Within?

2. Sri Lanka's President Sacks Defence Secretary, Police Chief for ‘Failure to Prevent Bombings’

A security officer stands guard outside St. Anthony’s Shrine where bombing was carried out on Easter Sunday, in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 24 April 2019. 

Sri Lanka's president on Wednesday, 24 April, asked for the resignations of the defence secretary and national police chief for their failure to prevent the Sunday Easter bombings, even as the death toll rose to 359.

President Maithripala Sirisena asked defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando and Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara to quit after it emerged that security forces shrugged off intelligence alerts of an impending terror strike. In an address to the nation on Tuesday, Sirisena had admitted security lapses and said he would restructure the police and security forces.

The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which ripped through three churches and three luxury hotels. Nine suicide bombers from mostly middle-class backgrounds carried out the attacks, said police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara. One of the bombers was the wife of another bomber, he added.

(Source: The Times of India)

Also Read: Did Sri Lanka President Order a Shutdown of Mosques and Madrasas?

3. Opposition Moves Top Court to Review Order, Hike VVPAT Slip Count

Andhra Pradesh CM and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu along with 20 leaders of non-NDA parties moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday, 24 April, seeking review of its 8 April order directing the Election Commission (EC) to increase VVPAT slip counts in each assembly segment from one EVM to five.

The opposition parties, which have sought VVPAT slip counting of 50 percent EVMs, said, “The aforesaid increase to a mere 2 percent (from 0.44 percent) is not sufficient and will not make any substantial difference to the situation that existed prior to the passing of the 8 April order. Therefore, even though the petitioners have succeeded on the merits of their contention, their success does not resolve their grievance or cause any meaningful change to the situation that they were originally aggrieved of.”

(Source: The Times of India)

Also Read: ‘50% VVPAT Slips Must be Cross-Checked After Voting’: Opposition

4. ‘Surprise Element’ Aided Balakot Operation: IAF Report

The report, a detailed assessment of the positives and negatives of the operation, to be used as a reference for future operations, was discussed at a high-level meeting of IAF recently.

“The strategic surprise” of the Balakot airstrikes by the Indian Air Force in the Khyber Phaktunwa region of Pakistan on 26 February was “complete and total” despite Pakistan being on high alert, according to a report on “the lessons learnt” from the operation, which also mentions that five of the six designated targets were hit, the first official acknowledgement of the number of targets.

The report, a detailed assessment of the positives and negatives of the operation, to be used as a reference for future operations, was discussed at a high-level meeting of IAF recently.

The assessment has revealed several positives, but because “no battle plan ever survives the first contact with the enemy”, there were also deviations from the plan, and some outright negatives too.

The mission “was accomplished” because of “redundancies” built into the plan, the report, a copy of which has been reviewed by HT, says.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

Also Read: No Pak Soldier, Citizen Died in Balakot Air Strike: Sushma Swaraj

5. Rohit Shekhar’s Wife Smothered Him While He Was Drunk: Police

Delhi Police on Wednesday, 24 April, arrested the widow of Rohit Shekhar Tiwari, son of late politician ND Tiwari, for murdering her husband by allegedly smothering him with a pillow and throttling him to death while he was in an inebriated state at their South Delhi home in the early hours of 16 April .

Police said the immediate trigger for the murder was Shekhar, 39, taunting Apoorva Shukla Tiwari, 35, with a story of how he and a woman relative of his had travelled in the same car and drank alcohol from the same glass, hours before, on the drive to Delhi from Uttarakhand, where he had gone to vote.

“But tension was also brewing between the couple since the beginning of their 11-month-long marriage and they were on the verge of divorce,” said Rajiv Ranjan, additional commissioner of police (crime branch).

Rohit Shekhar Tiwari and his wife Apoorva Shukla.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

Also Read: Strained Marriage to Murder? Story of Rohit Tiwari & Wife Apoorva

6. Christian Michel’s Lawyers Ask UN to Secure Release

Christian Michel is one of the alleged middlemen in the AugustaWestland VVIP Chopper case.

London-based lawyers acting on behalf of Christian Michel, currently in jail in India for his alleged role in corruption in the sale of AgustaWestland helicopters in 2010, have filed an “urgent communication” with UN bodies, seeking their intervention to secure his release.

The communication filed in Geneva on Tuesday, 23 April alleges Michel, a British national, was “unlawfully handed” over to India by authorities in Dubai in a move reminiscent of rendition. It adds that the Italian high court had reportedly earlier rejected his involvement in the scandal due to lack of evidence.

"The process by which Mr Michel was extradited to India did not follow due process and further, is a clear attempt to override international protocols relating to the process. The process that led to his removal from the UAE can only be described as a flagrant denial of justice that circumvented due process and seriously undermines any purported commitment to the rule of law," it states.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

Also Read: AgustaWestland: Michel Didn’t Confirm ‘AP’ is Ahmed Patel To ED

7. ‘No Obscene Videos’: Madras HC Lifts Ban on Tiktok with Condition

The Madras High Court had earlier ordered the government to prohibit TikTok downloads, saying the app was encouraging pornography.  

In a relief for Beijing-based developer Bytedance Technology Co., the Madras High Court’s Madurai bench on Wednesday, 24 April, lifted the ban on its popular video app TikTok with the condition that the platform should not be used to host obscene videos.

A bench of justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar, which heard the matter as per the orders of the Supreme Court, warned if any controversial video violating its condition was found uploaded using the app, it would be considered a contempt of court.

Shortly after the court’s judgment, the company issued a press statement: “We are glad about this decision and we believe it is also greatly welcomed by our thriving community in India, who use TikTok as a platform to showcase their creativity. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue serving our users better. While we’re pleased that our efforts to fight against misuse of the platform has been recognised, the work is never “done” on our end. We are committed to continuously enhancing our safety features as a testament to our ongoing commitment to our users in India.”

(Source: The Indian Express)

Also Read: Creators of TikTok Claim India Ban Costing It Millions in Revenue

8. Sexual Harassment Charges Against CJI: ‘My Character Smeared Before Probe,’ Complainant Tells SC Panel

The 35-year-old SC staffer, who has accused Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment, expressed her “fear and apprehensions” to the in-house inquiry committee on Wednesday, 24 April.

The 35-year-old Supreme Court staffer, who has accused Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment, expressed her “fear and apprehensions” to the in-house inquiry committee on Wednesday, 24 April, stating that her character was damaged even before the inquiry could start after the CJI convened a hearing on Saturday when he referred to her complaint as a “bigger plot” against him.

The staffer, in a letter to the committee, said that the inquiry should be conducted along the lines of the Vishakha Guidelines laid down by the SC, which mandates that the committee should have majority women members and an external woman member to “ensure fairness and impartiality.”

The woman, who was issued a notice on Tuesday, by the in-house committee comprising Justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana and Indira Banerjee, has also raised concerns over remarks made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. “The next day (Sunday), the blog by a senior Cabinet minister also condemned me. Because of these events I am very scared and feeling isolated and depressed,” she said.

(Source: The Indian Express)

Also Read: Over 250 Women Call for Fair Enquiry into Allegations Against CJI

9. Sri Lanka Blasts Mastermind Was Radical Preacher, on Police Radar

A priest conducts religious rituals during a mass burial for Easter Sunday bomb blast victims in Negombo, Sri Lanka on 24 April 2019.

The 38-year-old man, said to be the mastermind behind the Easter Sunday blasts in Sri Lanka that killed 359 people, hailed from a coastal town in eastern Batticaloa where he ran his own radical mosque and had a reputation for making aggressive demands that the Shariah be implemented, security sources told The Indian Express.

Zaharan Hashim, founder of National Towheeth Jamaath, was also one of the two suicide bombers who detonated themselves at the five-star Shangri La hotel in Colombo.

The Indian Express has learnt that police are now re-investigating the recent explosion of a motorcycle near Kattankudy, Hashim’s hometown in Batticaloa. Investigators suspect the explosion could have been a test for the explosives used in Sunday’s blasts. At the time, police had arrested the owner of the property where the explosion took place.

(Source: The Indian Express)

Also Read: Video from Sri Lanka Hotel Shows Suspects in Elevator Before Blast

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