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


5 THINGS FIRST

Today: 48th GST Council to hold virtual meet; Delhi court to hear Aaftab’s bail plea in Shraddha murder case; BJP to hold nationwide protests against Pak minister remarks on PM Modi. Tomorrow: Indian Navy to commission indigenous guided-missile destroyer INS Mormugao; FIFA World Cup 2022 Final – Argentina Vs France

1. Top court gives thief a fresh lease of life & liberty
1. Top court gives thief a fresh lease of life & liberty
The Supreme Court on Friday underlined its role as the protector of the fundamental right to life and liberty as it took exception to failure of authorities, including the Allahabad High Court, to hear a citizen’s plea for freedom.

Sentence reduced

  • The top court came to the rescue of a habitual electricity and electrical equipment thief convicted by a trial court on nine counts and awarded two years imprisonment, which the jail authorities ordered the convict must serve consecutively.

SC intervention

  • “The intervention of this court to protect the liberty of the citizens is founded on sound constitutional principles embodied in the Article 136 of the Constitution. No case is small or big for this purpose,” a bench headed by CJI D Y Chandrachud said.

The case

  • The convict, Iqram, had spent 21 months in prison as an undertrial being involved in nine counts of theft of electricity and electrical equipment of the UP government. He agreed to a plea bargain before additional district and sessions judge, Hapur. The judge convicted him in all cases and sentenced him to two-year imprisonment. Iqram thought he would come out of jail after three more months of imprisonment.

HC order

  • On contacting the jail authorities, he was informed that the sentence of two year imprisonment would run consecutively in the nine cases and that he would be released after 18 years of incarceration. His plea against this was dismissed by the HC on the ground that the trial court did not specify that the sentences would run concurrently.

‘Not a murder case’

  • When the state counsel informed the SC that he is a serial offender and involved in 31 such cases, the CJI-led bench said, “You cannot elevate theft of electricity to the level of a murder case conviction,” and allowed Iqram’s appeal and ordered his release from prison after serving a two-year sentence.
2. Amid friction with Govt, SC announces winter break
2. Amid friction with Govt, SC announces winter break
Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud on Friday said no Supreme Court bench will be available during the ensuing winter vacations.

Significance

  • The CJI’s announcement assumes significance in the wake of Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju’s statement in Rajya Sabha on Thursday in which he said there was a feeling among the people that long court vacations were not very convenient for justice seekers. However, Rijiju told TOI on Friday when asked for his comment on the matter, “This is for SC to decide; government can’t advise.”

CJI’s announcement

  • “There will be no benches available from tomorrow (Jan 17) till January 1,” Justice Chandrachud informed the lawyers present in the courtroom at the outset on Friday.
  • Friday is the last working day of the top court before it goes on a two-week winter break. The apex court will reopen on January 2.

Court vacations

  • The issue regarding court vacations has been raised earlier also but judges, including former CJI N V Ramana, had said there is a misconception that judges stay in ultimate comfort and enjoy their holidays.
  • Similarly, a former judge of the Delhi High Court, Justice Jayant Nath, had in November last year said that the public perception of courts going on vacations like schools was not correct and an appropriate machinery must be engaged to project their hard work for an ‘image change’.

The Govt-SC tussle

  • The collegium system has become a major flashpoint between the Supreme Court and the central government, with the mechanism of judges appointing judges drawing criticism from different quarters.
  • Rijiju had on November 25 launched a fresh attack, saying the collegium system is “alien” to the Constitution.
  • On the judicial side, an apex court bench led by Justice S K Kaul has been very critical of the delay by the Centre in clearing the names recommended by the collegium for appointment as judges to constitutional courts, saying the collegium system is the law of the land and comments against it are “not well-taken”.
3. New Bhutto and old India hatred
3. New Bhutto and old India hatred
The Bhuttos

  • Former Pakistan President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto once promised to fight a 1,000-year war with India. His daughter former Pakistan PM Benazir repeated the same call in 1990. Her son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is now the foreign minister of Pakistan.
  • Pinned down on terror mat by MEA S Jaishankar at the UN and press conferences, Bilawal resorted to vulgarity as response to robust diplomacy.
  • In a rather indecent comment, Bhutto retorted to Jaishankar’s ‘Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism’ remark saying, “Osama bin Laden is dead, but the butcher of Gujarat lives and he is the Prime Minister of India.”

‘Uncivilised’, ‘new low’

  • India slammed Bhutto’s remarks against PM Modi as “uncivilised” and a “new low, even for Pakistan”. MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “Pakistan FM’s frustration would be better directed towards the masterminds of terrorist enterprises in his own country, who have made terrorism a part of their state policy. Pakistan needs to change its own mindset or remain a pariah.”
  • “The Foreign Minister of Pakistan has obviously forgotten this day in 1971, which was a direct result of the genocide unleashed by Pakistani rulers against ethnic Bengalis and Hindus.”
  • “No other country can boast having 126 UN-designated terrorists and 27 UN-designated terrorist entities.”

Robust diplomacy

  • Earlier, Jaishankar responded to Pakistan’s junior foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s allegation that “no country had used terrorism better than India”.
  • Jaishankar reminded Pakistan what Hillary Clinton, as the US secretary of state, had said in 2011 while holding a joint news conference with then Pakistan foreign minister Khar.
  • Jaishankar said, “Hillary Clinton was visiting Pakistan. And Hina Rabbani Khar was a minister at that time…Standing next to her, Hillary Clinton actually said that if you have snakes in your backyard, you can’t expect them to bite only your neighbours.” More here
4. Rahul’s message to regional parties same as Nadda’s
4. Rahul’s message to regional parties same as Nadda’s
What Rahul says

  • In remarks that may once again offend the regional parties, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said no regional party can represent a vision for the entire country to counter the BJP.
  • Marking 100 days of his Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul said there will always be space for the Congress party as it represented a national ideology and a vision for the country.

Quote unquote

  • “None of the regional parties can represent a vision for the country. They can represent a vision for a community or a vision for a state, but they cannot represent a vision for the country.”
  • “The space for the Congress party will always be there and the people who believe in the Congress party will always be there. It is a question of getting them excited, getting them motivated and getting them to believe in what they stand for, which the [Bharat Jodo] yatra has been very very good at doing.”

A Nadda echo

  • At a rally in Patna in July, BJP chief JP Nadda had said, “In the times to come, only an ideology-driven party like the BJP will survive, while others ruled by families would perish.”
  • Later in September in Gujarat, Nadda said, “All these parties [PDP, NC, TMC, RJD etc] started out as regional parties but then turned into family fiefdoms. You should know their true faces. They are a threat to democracy.”

Not the first time

  • At the Congress Chintan Shivir in Udaipur in May, Rahul had said that state-level parties do not have an ideology and thus cannot fight the BJP effectively.

Target AAP

  • Rahul targeted the Aam Aadmi Party saying the Congress might have beaten the BJP in Gujarat if Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s party had not been put up as a proxy, and hadn’t been used to target the Congress. More here
NEWS IN CLUES
5. Tell us if you have had this delicious food
Clue 1: Its name is derived from a Persian word that means ‘fried before cooking’
Clue 2: It is believed to have come to India with Turk Mongol invader Timur
Clue 3: Some experts compare it with Oon Suru mentioned in ancient Tamil literature

Scroll below for answer

6. Deaths down a hillside in Malaysia
6. Deaths down a hillside in Malaysia
A death camp

  • A landslide killed at least 21 people while they slept in their tents at an unlicensed campsite in Malaysia on Friday. Search teams scoured thick mud and downed trees for survivors.
  • The landslide in Selangor bordering the capital, Kuala Lumpur, occurred before 3 am local time, tearing down a hillside into an organic farm that officials said was operating the campsite illegally.
  • An initial investigation showed an embankment of about 4.5 lakh cubic metres of earth had collapsed.
  • Close to 400 personnel were involved in the rescue mission, police said.

The victims

  • Among the victims were five children and 12 women, according to the fire and rescue department.
  • There were 94 people caught in the landslide but 61 were safe, with 12 missing, Seven people were injured, including a pregnant woman, while others had wounds ranging from minor cuts to a suspected spinal injury.

Popular resort

  • The disaster struck just outside the popular hilltop area of Genting Highlands, known for its resorts, waterfalls and natural beauty.
  • The earth fell from an estimated height of 30 metres and covered an area of about an acre, according to the fire and rescue department’s state director.

Unlicensed business

  • The farm owners were allowed to operate organic farms, but had not applied for licences to run three campsites on the property.
  • Local television footage showed the aftermath of a large landslide through a steep, forested area beside a road, while images on social media showed rescue workers clambering over thick mud, large trees and other debris.

Land of slides

  • Landslides are common in Malaysia, but typically only after heavy rains. About 21,000 people got displaced last year due to torrential rain.
  • Here, a camper said he did not expect a landslide as there had been only light drizzle in recent days.
7. Who’s right, who’s wrong about Indian cough syrups
7. Who’s right, who’s wrong about Indian cough syrups
Factory to reopen

  • Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd said on Friday it will seek clearance to re-open its factory after an Indian government laboratory found nothing wrong in samples taken from cough syrups that the World Health Organization (WHO) had suspected of being linked to children’s deaths in Gambia.
  • “I have full faith in Indian regulatory and judicial processes. I have not done anything wrong,” Maiden Managing Director Naresh Kumar Goyal told Reuters. “We will now try to request the authorities to reopen the factory. But I don’t know when that will happen. We are still waiting.”

The controversy

  • Indian health authorities halted production at Maiden’s main factory in Haryana’s Sonepat in October after a WHO report said the company’s cough and cold syrups might be connected to the deaths of 69 children in Gambia this year.

But…

  • In a letter to the WHO dated Dec. 13, India’s drugs controller general V G Somani said that tests on samples of Maiden’s products had “been found to be complying with specifications” and no ethylene glycol or diethylene glycol was detected in them.
  • The WHO said in October that its investigators had found “unacceptable” levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, which can be toxic and lead to acute kidney injury, in the products manufactured by Maiden.

Analysed by experts

  • Somani said in his letter to the WHO that the results of the tests had been sent to a panel of experts for further action. The tests were carried out by the state-run Regional Drug Testing Laboratory in Chandigarh, the government said earlier.
8. Fresh Russian strikes worsen Ukraine’s winter woes
8. Fresh Russian strikes worsen Ukraine’s winter woes
  • A fresh barrage of deadly Russian strikes battered Ukraine on Friday, cutting water and electricity in major cities and piling pressure on the grid in sub-zero temperatures.
  • Dozens of missiles: Kyiv residents in winter coats crammed into underground metro stations as air raid sirens rang out and Russian forces fired off dozens of missiles in one of the biggest broadsides targeting the Ukrainian capital since February.
  • Two killed: Kyiv’s mayor said water supplies were disrupted in a wave of nationwide attacks that also killed two in Kryvyi Rih, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown in the south. Ukraine’s second largest city Kharkiv, near the border with Russia, was left without electricity, its mayor said.
  • Power infrastructure hit: About half of Ukraine’s energy grid has been damaged in sustained attacks and the national provider warned on Friday of emergency blackouts because of the “massive” wave of Russian attacks. The onslaught is the latest of several waves of strikes targeting key infrastructure that began in October after a series of embarrassing battlefield defeats for Russia.
  • Moscow has said the strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure are a response to an explosion on the Kerch bridge connecting the Russian mainland to the Crimean peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014. The Kremlin has said it holds Kyiv ultimately responsible for the humanitarian impact of the strikes for refusing to capitulate to Russian negotiation terms.
  • Modi-Putin phone call: Meanwhile, Indian PM Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed energy, trade, defence and security cooperation in a phone call on Friday. Modi also reiterated his call for “dialogue and diplomacy” as the “only way forward” to end the Russian war in Ukraine, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
9. Qatar stares at an ‘empty’ future post football World Cup
9. Qatar stares at an ‘empty’ future post football World Cup
What

  • That Qatar would host the football World Cup 2022 was decided in 2010. Twelve years later, it hosted possibly the most expensive football event, spending over $300 billion.
  • The tiny Gulf state will host on Sunday a final between Argentina and France that’s expected to be watched by half the planet.
  • But however much soft power Qatar has gained from the tournament, the return to normality will be an epic comedown.

An ‘empty’ worry

  • After a month when over 7,00,000 fans descended on Doha, Qatar will go back to being relatively empty.
  • Real estate agents are concerned apartments will remain unfinished, while hotels will have a glut of rooms and some stadiums will never be used again.
  • Lacking a competitive local football league, many of the stadiums will be broken up or converted.
  • About 1,70,000 seats from other stadiums have been promised to developing countries.
  • The other six stadia will be repurposed for hotels, shopping or made smaller for local football teams, adding to an already oversupplied real estate market.

There’s more

  • Before and during the World Cup, Qatar faced criticism about the rights of migrant workers and an aversion to LGBTQ pride symbols. That’s unlikely to go away.
  • This week, Qatar has also been the subject of non-World Cup headlines — a European Union corruption scandal involving bribery allegations.
  • And next month a court case gets underway about how this sporting event was handed to a tiny city-state in one of the world’s hottest regions. An indictment filed in the US accuses several officials of receiving payments to back Qatar’s bid.

But…

  • Qatar supplies almost a quarter of the liquefied natural gas imports Europe is relying on to get through the winter. This should help Qatar maintain its international standing.
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES
Biryani. According to food ordering platform Swiggy’s seventh edition of the annual trends report, Biryani is the most ordered food of 2022. Chicken Biryani emerged the chart topper on the app for the seventh year in a row. The latest report by the Bengaluru-based company said, “The dish showed its ‘asli dum’ with a mind-boggling 137 Biryanis being ordered per minute; that’s 2.28 Biryanis per second.” The next five most popular food items on Swiggy were masala dosa, chicken fried rice, paneer butter masala and butter naan. Popcorn was the most-ordered late-night (post 10 pm) item, with over 22 lakh orders in 2022. And gulab jamun, ordered over 27 lakh times, emerged as the favourite dessert in 2022.
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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta, Abhishek Dey
Research: Rajesh Sharma



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