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Lawyers write to CJI over group trying to ‘pressurise judiciary’

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New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) A group of senior lawyers, including Senior Advocate Harish Salve, Bar Council of India Chairperson, Manan Kumar Mishra, in a letter addressed to the Chief Justice of India (CJI), expressed concerns against mounting political and professional pressure through the actions of an interest group, which they alleged was aimed at undermining the judiciary’s integrity.

Without naming anyone in the letter dated March 26 to CJI, DY Chandrachud, the lawyers have accused the group of employing pressure tactics to influence judicial outcomes, particularly in cases involving political figures, which pose a significant threat to the democratic fabric and the trust placed in judicial processes.

“This heated interest group operates in various ways. They create false narratives of a supposed ‘better past’ and ‘golden period’ of the courts, contrasting it with the happenings in the present. These are nothing but intentional statements, made to sway court decisions and to embarrass the courts for certain political gains. It’s troubling to see some lawyers defend politicians by the day, and then try to influence judges through the media at night,” the letter stated.

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“They have also concocted an entire theory of ‘bench fixing’ – which is not just disrespectful and contemptuous – it’s an attack on the honour and dignity of our courts. At times, it also leads to slanderous attacks and insinuations on respected judges.

“They have also stooped to the level of comparing our courts to those countries where there is no rule of law and accusing our judicial institutions of unfair practices. These aren’t just criticisms, they are direct attacks meant to damage the public’s trust in our judiciary and threaten the fair application of our laws,” the letter added.

The lawyers have also accused some vested interests of trying to influence who the judges are in their cases and spread lies on social media to put pressure on the judges to decide in a particular way, threatening the fairness of Indian courts and striking at the heart of legal principles.

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The lawyers have pointed to the timing of the tactics of the group as the nation heads for the Lok Sabha elections and have drawn a parallel with similar activities in 2018-2019, including fabricating narratives.

The group of lawyers, who are behind the letter titled ‘Judiciary Under Threat-Safeguarding Judiciary from Political and Professional Pressure’, number around 600 and also include Adish Aggarwala, Chetan Mittal, Pinky Anand, Hitesh Jain, Ujjwala Pawar, Uday Holla and Swarupama Chaturvedi, sources said.

Though the lawyers behind the letter have mentioned no specific cases, the development comes at a time when courts are dealing with several high-profile cases of corruption involving politicians.

–IANS

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Goa: Raid on illegal gambling; articles valued at Rs 33 lakh seized

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Panaji, June 16 (IANS) Goa Police, on Sunday, arrested 11 persons for allegedly operating an illegal live playing cards game and attached gambling articles valued at Rs 33 lakh, officials said.

Superintendent of Police Rahul Gupta informed that a raid was conducted at Bambolim in North Goa and accused persons were caught red-handed.

“Total 11 accused persons including eight gambling customers, two dealers of the tables and one shift manager were caught red-handed for operating and playing illegal live playing cards game,” Gupta said.

Police have seized two tables of live card gambling, two sets of 52 playing cards, two live card shufflers, two card scanners, two cash chip floats containing different amounts of chips worth Rs 28,00,450 and other gambling articles, all valued at Rs 33 lakh.

Police are further investigating the case.

–IANS

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SP MP wants CBI probe into Balyan-Som dispute

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Muzaffarnagar (UP), June 16 (IANS) Newly-elected Samajwadi Party (SP) MP Harendra Singh Malik has demanded a CBI inquiry into the ongoing dispute between the former Union minister Sanjeev Balyan and former MLA Sangeet Som.

The MP’s move comes after letterheads bearing Som’s name were distributed in Sardhana, accusing Balyan of corruption and purchasing land in Australia.

While demanding a CBI probe into the matter, Malik suggested that “Balyan should take the initiative himself for the investigation to maintain public trust”.

He added, “Dr Sanjeev Balyan should meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and present himself for investigation. We believe Balyan has been wrongly accused and should initiate the investigation himself.”

The dispute between Balyan and Som has been ongoing for months, marked by a war of words. Earlier, Balyan, without naming Som, accused him of working for the SP in the elections.

Balyan said, “I hope action should be taken against those who are using facilities provided by the govt and have supported the SP candidate in this election.”

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Som responded by accusing Balyan of “trying to divert attention from his shortcomings” and emphasised his loyalty to the BJP.

–IANS

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Limbs of newborn bitten by animal found in Goa

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Panaji, June 16 (IANS) Goa Police have registered an offence against unknown persons after limbs of a newborn bitten by animals were found in the North district, officials said.

Police informed that the incident came to light on Saturday late evening, wherein limbs of a newborn were found near the sluice gate at Mandur-Dongri. Primary investigation has suggested that the limbs of the newborn were bitten by animals.

The crime happened in the jurisdiction of Agacaim Police Station.

“An offence concealing the birth of an unknown baby by secretly disposing of the dead body is made out. In this connection an offence under section 318 IPC has been registered,” police said.

Further investigation is underway.

–IANS

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As US delegation heads to Dharamsala, Tibetans pin hopes on Biden-Dalai Lama meeting

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Dharamsala, June 16 (IANS) As a high-level bipartisan US congressional delegation, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, is visiting India this week to have an audience with the Dalai Lama, in support of Tibet, the administration in exile is pinning hopes on a meeting between the Nobel Peace laureate and US President Joe Biden during the former’s visit to America starting June 20.

The US congressional meeting with representatives of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), also known as the Tibetan government in exile, is likely to provoke a diplomatic protest from Beijing, which regards “the Dalai Lama as a separatist and sees any foreign official contact with him an infringement of its sovereignty”.

Apart from meeting the spiritual leader, the US delegation will meet with Indian government officials and the American business community to strengthen relationships.

The visiting delegation comprises former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Gregory W Meeks, House Rules Committee Ranking Member Jim McGovern, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific Ranking Member Ami Bera, and Congresswomen Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Nicole Malliotakis.

In India, the delegation is expected to meet the Dalai Lama, 88, in McLeodganj — a small and quaint hill station in the suburbs of Dharamsala overlooking the Himalayas — on June 18-19.

CTA officials told IANS the proposed visit is the most significant contact since the Dalai Lama met the then President Barack Obama in Washington in 2016.

“India is the world’s largest democracy and an important strategic partner of the United States,” said McCaul in a statement.

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“I look forward to meeting with government officials and the American business community to learn how we can continue to strengthen our relationship with India. I am also honoured to have the opportunity to meet with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Tibetans are a democracy — loving people who wish to practise their religion freely.

“This visit should highlight the bipartisan support in the US Congress for Tibet to have a say in their own future.”

“I look forward to joining Chairman McCaul and Speaker Emerita Pelosi to demonstrate the strong bipartisan support for the US-India relationship,” stated Ranking Member Meeks.

“Over the past 25 years, our relationship with India has transformed to become one of the United States most consequential. I’m also honoured to have a chance to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to hear his views on how the American People can help advance the Tibetan people’s struggle for autonomy.”

Earlier this month, the Dalai Lama office said he is travelling to the US for medical treatment of his knees and there will be no public engagement during the visit.

This has been the first visit abroad of the globetrotting monk since the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic was detected in December 2019.

“There will be no engagements, including public audiences, of His Holiness from June 20 onwards until further notice,” an official statement said.

“His Holiness the Dalai Lama is scheduled to travel to the United States for medical treatment of his knees. Upon his return to Dharamsala, regular engagements will resume,” it added.

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His last visit to the US was in June 2017.

The last high-level visit that signifies Washington’s significant support for the Tibetan issue was a meeting between the Dalai Lama and the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Uzra Zeya at his official residence here on May 19, 2022.

In the run-up to the high-profile visit, Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, wrote on X on June 14, “Proud to see Congress pass the ‘Resolve Tibet Act’ this week.

“This legislation is a powerful reaffirmation of the United States’ steadfast commitment to the people of Tibet.”

A representative from the spiritual leader told IANS that since George H.W. Bush (1991), the Dalai Lama has met all the US Presidents, including Barack Obama on four occasions: February 18, 2010, July 16, 2011, February 21, 2014, and June 15, 2016.

The Dalai Lama and Obama met in the Map Room of the White House, rather than the President’s Oval Office usually reserved for visiting heads of state.

In 2017, Obama met the spiritual leader in New Delhi, the sixth in the series, to discuss promoting peace in the world.

Likewise, the Buddhist monk, known for his simplicity and jovial style, met Bill Clinton and George W. Bush several times.

In 2007, the Dalai Lama received the US Congressional Gold Medal, even in the face of protests by China.

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The 88-year-old monk, who was enthroned two years before President Biden was born, has lived in exile in India since fleeing Tibet during a failed uprising against the Chinese government in 1959.

He met with Presidents, Prime Ministers and crown rulers of major nations, including US President Franklin Roosevelt, who sent the Dalai Lama the gift of a pocket watch when he was a young boy.

The Dalai Lama, who visits only on invitation, described the gold watch as magnificent and even took it with him when he fled Tibet in 1959.

In his election campaign, Biden had said if voted to power, his administration would sanction Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses in Tibet, besides meeting with the Dalai Lama.

“During the forthcoming visit of His Holiness to the US, an invite from the White House would provide an opportunity to advance US support for the middle-way approach,” a representative from the spiritual leader’s office told IANS.

The “middle-way approach” demands “greater autonomy” for the people in Tibet.

The 14th Dalai Lama was born on July 6, 1935, in a small village in the remote Amdo region of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who along with many of his supporters fled the Himalayan homeland and took refuge in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959, views himself as a simple Buddhist monk.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at gulatiians@gmail.com)

–IANS

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Musk’s statement on EVMs holds no truth, he can learn from India: Rajeev Chandrasekhar

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Former Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Sunday that Elon Musk’s take on eliminating electronic voting machines (EVMs) from voting is a “huge sweeping generalisation” which holds no truth, inviting the Tesla CEO to come and learn some lessons in India.

Responding to the tech billionaire’s post on X, which alleged that electronic voting machines should be eliminated as the “risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high,” Chandrasekhar said this is not the case at all.

“This is a huge sweeping generalisation statement that implies no one can build secure digital hardware. Wrong,” replied the former minister.

According to Chandrasekhar, Musk’s view may apply to the US and other places where they use regular computing platforms to build “Internet-connected Voting machines.”

Musk had reacted to Puerto Rico’s primary elections which allegedly experienced voting irregularities.

Chandrasekhar further rejected Musk’s statement, saying that Indian EVMs are custom-designed, secure and isolated from any network or media.

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“No connectivity, no bluetooth, wifi, Internet; there is no way in. Factory-programmed controllers that cannot be reprogrammed,” informed the former minister.

“Electronic voting machines can be architected and built right as India has done. We would be happy to run a tutorial, Elon,” Chandrasekhar added.

–IANS

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