Today: Farmer unions to take call on next course of action and format of protests; Cyclone Jawad likely to hit Andhra Pradesh-Odisha coasts; Last solar eclipse of 2021; India vs New Zealand, 2nd Test, Mumbai, day 2; Tomorrow: Russian foreign minister & defence minister to reach Delhi for India-Russia summit
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Friday said the cyclonic storm Jawad is expected to reach the North Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast by today morning. Thereafter, it will recurve and move towards the West Bengal coast. The cyclone would bring with it heavy to very heavy rainfall. Wind speeds ranging up to 90-100 kmph accompanied by tidal waves, are also expected.
Going by the trajectory, it is likely to make landfall somewhere in Odisha’s Puri district around tomorrow noon, before heading out to the Bay of Bengal. The wind speeds may gradually decrease after touching the Odisha coast, Odisha’s special relief commissioner PK Jena said.
“There’s also a possibility of the cyclonic system changing its course avoiding landfall in Odisha. It could just pass along the coastline, with Puri experiencing a ruboff effect,” he added.
While 46 teams have been deployed or pre-positioned in the vulnerable states, 18 teams have been kept in reserve, informed NDRF director general Atul Karwal. Per the deployment map, of the 46 teams, 19 are based in West Bengal, 17 in Odisha, 19 in Andhra Pradesh, apart from seven in Tamil Nadu and two in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba directed all state and central agencies to follow each necessary protocol to ensure “no scope for loss of lives and to minimise the damage of property”. He directed that all fishermen and vessels which are out at sea must be accounted for by the concerned states for which required assistance would be provided by coast guard and other central agencies in this regard.
Gauba advised that essential services may be restored in the shortest possible time with minimum disruption, for which advance action should be taken.
The Kerala High Court on Friday upheld the 84-day interval between the twin doses of Covishield vaccine for Covid-19, as mandated by the Centre even as the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium or the INSACOG recommended booster shots for those above 40.
Judiciary vs Executive
The HC had in September refused to stay the single judge’s order which had allowed individuals — who paid for the Covishield vaccine — the option of getting their second dose after four weeks from the first dose and before the 84-day gap.
The Centre had argued that the single judge court interfered with the Centre’s vaccine policy and that the order, based on a plea by a company, also violated the individual rights of its workers as the company wanted its workers to get their second dose before completion of the 84-day interval.
Booster shots coming?
The argument for booster shots gained momentum after INSACOG — which is a network of national testing labs established by the Centre for monitoring Covid-19 genomic variations — recommended the same “for those 40 years of age and over” and also for those who are in the “most high-risk / high-exposure” category.
The recommendation comes in the wake of the detection of the Omicron variant in India — which was first identified in South Africa. INSACOG said that “since low levels of neutralising antibodies from current vaccines are unlikely to be sufficient to neutralise Omicron”, a booster dose may be needed.
The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), the advisory group to the government on vaccines, had late last month said that the government may come out with a policy on booster or additional doses within two weeks.
The Supreme Court on Friday expressed concern over “a rising trend” of courts invalidating proceedings into sexual misconduct at workplace on “hyper-technical” grounds saying that it would defeat the law and would turn judicial process into a punishment for the victim.
“We implore courts to interpret service rules and statutory regulations governing the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace in a manner that metes out procedural and substantive justice to all the parties,” the court said.
The court’s remarks came while setting aside the order of Calcutta High Court which had acquitted a BSF personnel from charge of committing sodomy on his subordinate on the ground that the order of Commandant for preparing an additional RoE (Record of Evidence) was beyond jurisdiction. The HC had set aside an order passed by Summary Security Force Court which held him guilty.
The apex court said that the approach of HC was “callous” in this case as there was sufficient evidence against the accused. It said that the HC was incorrect in its interpretation of the jurisdiction of the Commandant and the obligation of the SSFC to furnish reasons under the BSF Act.
“It is important that courts uphold the spirit of the right against sexual harassment, which is vested in all persons as a part of their right to life and right to dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution. It is also important to be mindful of the power dynamics that are mired in sexual harassment at the workplace. There are several considerations and deterrents that a subordinate aggrieved of sexual harassment has to face when they consider reporting sexual misconduct of their superior,” the bench said.
Cross border pollution? The Uttar Pradesh (UP) government told the Supreme Court that since the state lies on the “downwind” side, the pollution in the state is caused by “air (that) is mostly coming from Pakistan.” Taken aback by the line of argument, the SC asked if the state now wanted “to ban industries in Pakistan?” UP shares no direct border with Pakistan, shielded by Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan on its western flank.
Bitter sugar: The state’s argument came after it objected to the decision by the Commission for Air Quality Management ordering the closure of all industries not using cleaner fuels like PNG, on weekends and restricting their hours of operation to 8 hours daily on weekdays. The state said it will adversely impact its sugarcane and milk industries — following which the court asked it to raise it before the Commission.
Anguished cry: Lamenting that “whether intentional or unintentional, some sections of media portrays us that we are the villains who want to close down the schools”, the SC observed that it was the Delhi government which “opened the schools”. However, it added that it was not its intention to “interfere with freedom of speech and expression” and it was certainly not looking to get into an “administrative role.” The court had on Thursday taken the Delhi government to task for ordering reopening of schools despite grave levels of air pollution.
Construction conundrum: The Delhi government also sought relaxations in the construction ban in order to complete the construction of seven government hospitals to which the SC said it could be allowed subject to the Commission’s directions. The Delhi government had earlier objected to the ongoing construction of the Central Vista Project, which the Centre had termed a project of “national importance.”
The National Investigation Authority has moved the Supreme Court challenging the default bail the Bombay High Court granted to activist-lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, who has been in jail for over three years. She is one of the 16 accused of instigating violence and conspiring with Maoists in the so-called Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case. Co-accused Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist, died awaiting bail this July at the age of 84.
Bharadwaj was granted default bail by the High Court on Wednesday (Dec 1) on the grounds that investigators had failed to file a chargesheet against her within the stipulated time of 90 days from her arrest in August 2018. The conditions for the bail was to be set by an NIA court on December 8 and she was to be released subsequently, the High Court had said.
The High Court granted the bail after agreeing to the contention that additional sessions judge who extended Bharadwaj’s period of detention in November 2018 was not authorised to do so as only a judge of a special court can hear cases under the National Investigation Agency Act 2008. The court, however, had rejected petitions for default bail by eight other co-accused in the case.
World champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway drew the first blood after five deadlocked contests with Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi but it took him the longest game in the World Chess Championship history to do so.
It took 136 moves and 7 hours and 45 minutes, during which Carlsen swapped his queen for two rooks and eventually sacrificed his rook to win the bishop and a pawn, to win the gruelling Game 6 in Dubai. The first five of the 14-game faceoff with Nepomniachtchi, the world no.5, had ended in draws.
Carlsen has been the world’s top-ranked chess player for the past eleven years, and has held the world title since he beat Viswanathan Anand in 2013 at the age of 22. The Norwegian grandmaster has defended the title thrice – in 2014, 2016 and 2018.
Nepomniachtchi, the scion of a long line of great Russian grandmasters, is a player with a realistic chance of the title, with a 4-1 career advantage against Carlsen in their classical games.
Friday’s win was the first classic game in the final of the World Chess Championship to have a decisive result since Carlsen beat Russia’s Sergey Karjakin in game 10 of 2016 final. Carlsen is now on lead at 3.5 against 2.5, with eight games to go. The contest continues with games on Saturday and Sunday before Monday’s rest day. (Game 6 highlights here)
Opener Mayank Agarwal hit a serene hundred to rescue India after New Zealand left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel had put them in a spot of bother on a weather-hit first day of the second and final Test in Mumbai.
After the first session was wiped out due to a wet outfield, captain Virat Kohli chose to bat and Agarwal and Shubman Gill gave their side a solid start with an opening stand of 80. But Patel gave New Zealand the breakthrough getting Gill to edge to the lone slip.
The 33-year-old Mumbai-born spinner returned in his next over to dismiss Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli for ducks, leaving the hosts at a precarious 80/3. Kohli, though, reviewed the lbw decision unsuccessfully and trudged off after a chat with the on-field umpires. TV replays were inconclusive in showing if he had hit the ball before Patel’s delivery struck his pad.
Agarwal meanwhile got more fluent in the post-tea session, easing into the spinners, and together with Shreyas Iyer added 80 for the fourth wicket, before the latter became Patel’s fourth scalp.
Agarwal then reached his fourth Test ton — and first in 14 innings — crunching a cover drive off Daryl Mitchell who was picked in place of the injured Kane Williamson. And his unbroken 61-run stand with Wriddhiman Saha pushed India past 200.
Scorecard:India 221/4 (Agarwal 120 not out, Gill 44, Saha 25 not out, Ajaz 4/73) vs New Zealand
A mob in Pakistan on Friday lynched a Sri Lankan national before burning his body over alleged blasphemy in the country’s Punjab province.
Priyantha Kumara, was working as the general manager of a factory in Sialkot district, a Punjab police official told PTI.
“Mr Kumara allegedly tore a poster of the hardline Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in which Quranic verses were inscribed and threw it in the dustbin. The poster of the Islamist party was pasted on the wall adjoining the office of Kumara. A couple of factory workers saw him removing the poster and spread the word in the factory,” the official said.
Hundreds of men, enraged over the “blasphemy” incident, started gathering outside the factory from adjoining areas. Most of them were activists and supporters of the TLP.
“The mob dragged the suspect (the Sri Lankan national) from the factory and severely tortured him. After he succumbed to his wounds, the mob burnt his body before police reached there,” the official said.
The Imran Khan government had recently lifted a ban on the TLP after signing a secret agreement with it after which its chief Saad Rizvi and over 1,500 activists accused of terrorism were released from jail.
Gita Gopinath. The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) high-profile chief economist next month will become the No. 2 official at the Washington-based crisis lender, the fund announced. Gopinath will succeed Geoffrey Okamoto as first deputy managing director, serving under IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva — the first time two women have held the top leadership roles.
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