TUESDAY 21 MARCH 2023 Pages 12 |` 5.00|LC www.thestatesman.com KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR ‘INDIA AIMS TO LAUNCH GLOBAL INITIATIVE ON DIGITAL HEALTH’ ‘BE VIGILANT AGAINST EVIL PROPAGANDA OF OPPN PARTIES’ P4 WEATHER Generally cloudy sky. Rain/ thundershower accompanied with gusty wind very likely. Temperature will be in the range of 27-21 degrees Celsius. RAINFALL: 01.8mm RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max.94% TEMPERATURE P5 XI MAKES 1ST MOSCOW VISIT AS PUTIN WAGES UKRAINE WAR P2 British govt’s duty to Modi-Kishida to boost protect Indian High cooperation in Indo-Pacific Commission: Oppn Max: 26.8°C (-8) Min: 20.6°C (-3) SUN RISES SUN SETS 05:42 hrs 17:48 hrs MOON RISES MOON SETS 04:46 hrs 16:29 hrs New Moon on 21 March THUMBNAILS Air India urination case: The victim in the Air India urination case has moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and airline companies to frame regulations to address incidents of passenger misconduct on board aircraft, and stressed on explicit zero-tolerance policy with respect to "unruly/disruptive behaviour", which could mandate reporting to it to the law enforcement, failing which action would taken against airlines in all cases. The petitioner also requested the apex court to direct the media to desist from reporting on criminal proceedings, to prevent further shaming and embarrassment for the 72-year-old victim and the perpetrator. The petitioner contended that Air India along with the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have failed to treat the petitioner with care and responsibility after an unruly passenger urinated on the petitioner after having been served excessive alcohol on the flight. The plea said the wide-ranging national press reportage full of conjecture and surmises has severely undermined the petitioner's right as a victim under Article 21 of the Constitution, and in fairness also affected the rights of the accused as well. (SeePage5) ASHOK TUTEJA NEW DELHI, 20 MARCH gainst the backdrop of growing Chinese assertiveness, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida today resolved to strengthen the partnership between their two countries to boldly face ''challenges'' in the region. The Japanese leader also unveiled on Indian soil what he called a ''Free and Open IndoPacific (FOIP)'' initiative, which is widely seen as an action plan aimed at countering China. The Tokyo-led initiative seeks greater security and economic cooperation with emerging economies in the region. Describing India as an ''indispensable partner'' in develop- A ing FOIP, Kishida said Japan would mobilise more than $75 billion in public and private funds in the Indo-Pacific region by 2030 in infrastructure. ''At a time when the international community is at a historic turning point, the concept of FOIP is becoming more important than ever toward the goal of leading the international community in the direction of cooperation rather than division and confrontation,'' he said delivering a speech at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) here. Earlier, at their annual summit, Modi and Kishida exchanged views on defence equipment and technology collaboration, trade, health, and digital partnership. They also had a discussion on the importance of reliable supply chains in semicon- ductors and other critical technologies. ''The India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership is based on our shared democratic values and respect for the rule of law in the international arena. Strengthening this partnership is not only important for both our countries, but it also promotes peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,'' Modi said at a joint media interaction with Kishida after their bilateral talks. Noting that last year, the two countries had set a target of Japanese investment of five trillion yen (Rs 320000 crores) in India in the next 5 years, the PM said it was a matter of satisfaction that good progress had been achieved in this direction. Modi also spoke about the India-Japan Industrial Competitiveness Partnership, under which the two countries were seeking to increase the competitiveness of Indian industry in areas such as logistics, food processing, MSME, textiles, machinery and steel. ''Today we also expressed happiness over the activeness of this partnership. We are also progressing fast on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail,'' he added. Modi said the two countries were celebrating 2023 as the Year of the Tourism Exchange and for this, they had chosen the theme "Connecting Himalayas with Mount Fuji," he said. He said he had explained in detail to the Japanese leader the priorities of India's G20 presidency. Giving voice to the priorities of the Global South was an important pillar of India's G20 presidency. Kishida also extended to Modi an invitation for attending the G7 Leaders' Summit to be held in Hiroshima in May. Asked if the India-China military stand-off at eastern Ladakh figured during Modi-Kishida talks, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said it did not specifically come up but the two leaders discussed the challenges they faced and how they and other like-minded countries could face them. In the context of the defence partnership, Kwatra said the two PMs discussed ''co-innovation, co-design and co-creation of defence equipment as part of India's vision of 'Aatmanirbharta' (self-reliance). Kishida said Japan's economic cooperation with India which continued to grow rapidly would not only support further development of India but also create significant economic opportunities for Japan. 'For transparency, not secrecy', SC for putting an end to sealed cover note practice STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 20 MARCH 2024. The first category of family pension and gallantry award winners will cover nearly six lakh ex-servicemen, the second category of those above 70 years of age will include around four lakh exservicemen and the last category will come 10 lakh ex-servicemen. Refusing to accept a “confidential note” in a sealed cover, Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud heading a bench also comprising Justice P .S. Narasimha and Justice J.B. Pardiwala said, “I am personally averse to sealed covers. There has to be transparency in judicial proceedings This is about imple- Parliament shows no sign of ending stalemate over Rahul’s apology STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 20 MARCH Even after a week lost in disruptions, Parliament failed to resume normal work on Monday as the Government remained stuck on its demand for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's apology for his UK speeches and the Opposition shouted for a JPC probe into the Adani Group's financial irregularities. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha sat for short durations before they were adjourned for the day. Neither the Opposition nor the Government showed any indication to sort out the issues through discussion. The Lok Sabha sat for less than 10 minutes in the morning and failed to take up the Question Hour. Speaker Om Birla kept asking the members P12 Kishida said Japan would mobilise more than $75 bn in the Indo-Pacific region by 2030 Min.55% The Supreme Court on Monday refused to accept in a sealed cover Centre’s “confidential note” relating to payment of One Rank One Pension (OROP) saying that it was “averse” to such a practice as it okayed the staggered payment of OROP arrears till February 28, 2024. The staggered payment would require government making payment of OROP arrears since 2019, first to payable to those getting family pension and gallantry award winners by March 30, those 70 years and above by June 30 and the rest in there instalments - on August 31, November 30 and February 28, WOMEN'S BOXING C'SHIPS: SAKSHI CRUISES INTO QUARTERFINALS to let the Question Hour go through, and he would allow the members who had given notices, to speak on them. The members constituted the House, he said, and they had a right to speak on their issues. Birla pleaded the members should not shout slogans and let the proceedings go on. He asked the members to keep their placards down and resume their seats. He suggested the two sides to come to his chamber and a way should be found to restore normalcy. As the slogan shouting continued, he adjourned the House till 2 pm, when members again showed no signs to resume work. In the Rajya Sabha, there were similar scenes as the House went through presentation of official papers. Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar rejected all notices under Rule 267 to take up business suggested by members, and adjourned the House till 2 pm amidst noisy slogans. In the afternoon, Deputy Chairman Harivansh had to adjourn the House in a minute as the members from both sides shouted loudly. menting orders. What can be secret here.” CJI Chandrachud further said, “We need to put an end to this sealed cover practice in the Supreme Court...This is fundamentally contrary to the basic process of fair justice.” The court said that an accused cannot access case diary but accepting information as sealed cover across the bar having a bearing on the other party in the matter is not right under the judicial procedure and the court proceedings. The position taken by the court today is likely to put an end to a practice that has been prevailing in the Supreme Court for the last many years, wherein the investigating agencies submit material that has surfaced in the course of the investigation to the court in a sealed cover. In the course of the hearing, the court took exception to the Defence Ministry unilaterally deciding to pay OROP arrears in instalments contrary to its judgment to pay the OROP arrears by March 15, 2023. However, taking note of the difficulties projected before the court and observing that the national interest must not be lost sight of, the court permitted the payment of arrears in a staggered manner. The government told the court that a huge amount of Rs. 28,000 crores would be required if payment of arrears is made in one go and the same will have serious consequences for defence management. SNS & AGENCIES NEW DELHI, 20 MARCH Several opposition parties on Monday said that the responsibility of protecting the Indian embassies and High Commission abroad is of the host country and the Indian government must take up the matter diplomatically with these countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, the US etc. The reaction from the opposition parties comes after the Indian national flag was pulled down by Khalistani supporters in London. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said, "This can't be allowed and the External Affairs Ministry should take the matter to the host countries to protect the High Commission and embassies." The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) late on Sunday summoned the senior-most UK diplomat in India to lodge its protest after some proKhalistani groups allegedly took down the tricolour at the Indian High Commission in London. MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted: "India lodges strong protest with UK", along with a Ministry statement. Some pro- Khalistani groups staged a protest at the Indian High Commission in London over the Punjab government's crackdown against self-styled radical preacher Amritpal Singh. The MEA, in a statement, said an explanation was demanded for the complete absence of the British security that allowed these radical elements to enter the High Commission premises. Govt lodges protest over vandalism by Khalistan supporters at Indian Consulate in San Francisco: India today lodged a strong protest with the US over the vandalism of the property at the Consulate General of India in San Francisco by 'Khalistan' supporters. In a meeting with the US Charge d’Affaires in New Delhi, the foreign office reminded the US Government of its basic obligation to protect and secure diplomatic representation. The US was also asked to take appropriate measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents. ''Our Embassy in Washington D.C. also conveyed our concerns to the US State Department along similar lines,' the Ministry of External Affairs said. SC: All HCs to have online RTI portals in three months AGENCIES NEW DELHI, 20 MARCH The Supreme Court on Monday asked all the High Courts across the country to establish online Right to Information portals as has already been done by it. A bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha and Justice J.B. Pardiwala also asked the Registrar Generals of the High Courts to seek directions from their respective Chief Justices for the establishment of such portals for district judiciary as well. “We direct all High Courts to establish online RTI portals within three months from today. High Courts can formulate adequate provi- sions to facilitate supply of adequate information. The information to be passed onto the secretary generals of High Courts for adminis- trative directions from the Chief Justices (of High Courts). Same directions to be sought from Chief Justice for the district judiciary,” the Court said in its order. During the hearing, the top court noted that 18 States had filed their replies. Further, the Court noted that only a very few High Court have online RTI portals. “After a lapse of 17 years, some High Courts still await to operationalize the websites for this purpose. Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa High Courts have established website for RTI. Karnataka uses the State govt portal,” the court said in its order. It directed all other High Courts to follow suit and establish their RTI portals. NSA to be slapped on Amritpal as ISI link surfaces STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE CHANDIGARH, 20 MARCH Even as Khalistani preacher Amritpal Singh is still absconding, Punjab Police on Monday said National Security Act (NSA) is likely to be invoked against the Waris Punjab De’ chief. Addressing a Press conference, Punjab Police spokesperson and Inspector General of Police (IGP) headquarters Sukhchain Singh Gill said while NSA has been invoked on the five arrested associates of the radical preacher, Amritpal is also likely to be booked under NSA once he is arrested. The police said the secessionist campaigner Amritpal was trained by Pakistani spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in Georgia before coming to India and had close links with Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). The police have initiated a probe to find out whether Amritpal was raising his private army, Anandpur Khalsa Force (AKF) after finding the abbreviation ‘AKF’ written on the entrance gate of the radical leader's house and weapons seized from his supporters.“We have strong suspicion of involvement of Pak- istan’s ISI besides foreign funding. The accused were using hawala channels also. We have evidence that the accused were forming ‘Anandpur Khalsa Fauj’ (AKF) of close associates of Amritpal,” the IGP said. Gill said while four of Amritpal's associates who have been booked under NSA have been sent to Dibrugarh jail in Assam. The fifth person is Harjit Singh, who is uncle of Amritpal, was also sent to the same prison in Assam today following his surrender on Sunday. Gill said till now 114 persons have been arrested so far in connection with the March 18 onward crackdown on Khalistani activists. He, however, maintained Amritpal is still absconding even as the latter's family suspect he has been arrested but it was not being disclosed. He said six first information reports (FIRs) have been lodged so far against Amritpal and his associates. These include causing disharmony and obstruction in police working and attack on police, besides possessing illegal weapons. Police have also found a walkie-talkie set from one of the vehicles used by Amritpal, Gill said. Even as heavy police deployment at sensitive places remained in place throughout the state, the IGP said there was total normalcy in Punjab and the cordon and search operation had been successful.He, however, refused to comment on suspension of Twitter handles of Punjab journalists. "It could have been done to maintain public order. Some steps are necessary to maintain law and order. Those are reviewed from time to time,” Gill added. Meanwhile, the Punjab government has further extended the suspension of Internet services in the state till noon of March 21.Internet services were suspended in the state on March 18 till March 19 noon following police crackdown on ‘Waris Punjab De’ head Amritpal Singh and his supporters. The suspension was later extended till March 20 noon.
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