friDAY Fitness standards created by, for men march, 2021 The court observed that these fitness standards were created by male officers for male officers and, hence, were discriminatory towards women. The verdict came on a batch of pleas which said the Indian Army had not granted permanent commission to even 50% of women Short Service Commission officers despite a Supreme Court order mandating the same 26 epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard in the news t o d ay INDIA Challenge to Bills Bills passed in the Budget Session of Parliament will be challenged in court, the Congress said on Thursday, alleging this is the first time the government did not agree to any of the opposition’s demands. Parliament was adjourned sine die on Thursday two weeks ahead of the scheduled date of April 8 amid parties pouring their might in poll-bound states. Every Bill passed this session will be challenged in the Supreme Court, Jairam Ramesh said, condemning the government for ignoring parliamentary committees. Bharat bandh today Rail and road transportation services are likely to be affected and markets may remain closed in parts of the country on Friday as farmer unions protesting against the three central agri laws have called a complete ‘Bharat Bandh’, even as it will not be observed in four poll-bound states and Puducherry. According to the Samkyukta Kisan Morcha, the shutdown will start at 6 am and will be in force up to 6 pm on March 26 which marks four months of the farmer agitation at Delhi’s three borders. Nationwide CBI raids The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday carried out nationwide searches at 100 locations, including the National Capital Region, in separate alleged bank fraud cases of over `3,700 crore, officials said. The coordinated search operation was spread across 11 states and pertained to 30 FIRs related to bank fraud, the officials said. These searches are part of a special drive to book fraudsters on the complaints received from different nationalised banks in India, according to CBI spokesperson R C Joshi. A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS INTERNATIONAL Brazil toll at 3 lakh Brazil has reached 3,00,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths and become the second nation to top that figure. The United States hit the same milestone on December 14, but it has a larger population. Wednesday’s figures from the Brazilian health ministry added another 2,009 deaths to the country’s tally, which local media say is an undercount. On Tuesday, Brazil hit a single-day record of 3,251 deaths and authorities fear that April could be as grim as March in the country’s overwhelmed hospitals. New Delhi l J8.00 l PAGES 12 Feb 2020 When THE S.C. directed army to grant women officers permanent commission CJI suggests ad-hoc judges to cut pendency Army criteria for E XP R E S S N E W S S E R VIC E @ New Delhi THE Supreme Court on Thursday said ad-hoc judges can be appointed in high courts to clear pending cases. “There are suits pending for 30 years which also include criminal trials. It is not a matter of opinion but fact that judges who have been there for 15 to 20 years can continue to dispose of matters,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde. The bench was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Lok Prahari seeking appointment of retired judges to clear pending cases. The ad-hoc judges would be The bench said the Constitu- considered the junior-most so tion allows appointment of ad- that they don’t become a ‘threat’ hoc judges and taking that to anybody in terms of seniorroute has become a neity the CJI added. , cessity in view of the The SC also clarified out-of-hand pendency . that it’s not creating a The Centre’s counsel new convention but is Additional Solicitor only suggesting to use General R S Suri said a provision in the Conad-hoc appointments stitution. “Article 224A can be made after vais a Constitutional procancies for regular S A Bobde, Chief vision... We will lay posts are filled. To this, Justice of India down guidelines statCJI Bobde said, “We ing if pendency goes are not sure how much coop- beyond certain limit for, say, eration we are receiving from more than eight or 10 years, you regarding that. But ad-hoc then the Chief Justice will aujudges are not a threat.” tomatically recommend the ap- pointment of ad-hoc judge. After Collegium approves, they can sit and it (term) can be extended,” it added. The court also wanted to know the status of the 55 names cleared by the SC Collegium for appointments to various high courts but have not been notified by the government yet. The top court noted that there should be a reasonable timeframe for the law ministry to respond to the the Collegium’s recommendations. After seeking suggestions from the Centre and high courts, the SC adjourned the matter to April 8. India has highest Covid contact rate in the world Indian Supermodel for Covid-19 predicts national peak of second wave by mid-April with 70,000-80,000 fresh cases daily People flouting social distancing and mask rules in Sadar Bazaar even as cases are surging daily | Shekhar yadav 3,95,192 India's totalactive Caseload 1,00,738 Yoga panel set up The Union Ayush ministry has set up an interdisciplinary team of experts, comprising representatives from AIIMSDelhi, IIM-Bangalore and IITBomabay among others, to explore the potential of yoga as a productivity enhancing tool for the population. The panel, chaired by H R Nagendra, chancellor of Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bengaluru, held its first meeting on Wednesday and underlined that the productivity dimension of yoga - its role at the workplace in offering benefits to employees to perform better - remains unexplored to a large extent. l Fresh cases in just 2 days 53,476 Fresh cases in last 24 hours 1,515 Delhi’s 24-hour surge No ban on vax export Govt sources denied reports in some circles that a ban had been imposed on export of Covid vaccines keeping in view the rising cases and said vaccine supply to ‘partner countries’ in a phased manner would continue | P7 R i c h a S h a r m a @ New Delhi Amid the galloping Covid-19 cases, it turns out that India is witnessing the world’s highest coronavirus contact rate, whereby an infected person is infecting another one every two days. What is worrying is the massive jump in contact rate this month, according to the Indian Supermodel for Covid-19. The latest analysis through the model, initiated by the Department of Science of Technology predicts , the peak of the second wave by mid-April, when daily infections will be between 70,000 and 80,000, primarily driven by Maharashtra. According to scientists analysing the model, the cause of this unexpected jump in contact rate is likely to be a combination of more crowding in public spaces like schools and Terror 4th attack in colleges, markets and public places and public transport and faster spreading mutations. “The contact parameter seen in India is reported nowhere in the world and a massive jump in contact rate is causing the sharp rise in cases all over. Early March, it was around 0.24 (an infected person infecting another in four days) and today it stands at 0.48 (every second day). The spike in many states is primarily due to a significant increase in contact rate,” said Manindra Agrawal, Deputy Director at IIT, Kanpur, who is part of the supermodel study . Agrawal expects the second wave peak around April 15-25. “In Maharashtra, the contact rate has been high for a while (0.38 now though it was around 0.45 when there was no lockdown). The peak will be bigger than during the first wave around 40,000 new infections per day It is likely to . arrive in early April. Even in Punjab, the second peak will be bigger than the first one with around 4,000 new infections per day, but there is a significant increase in reach,” said Agarwal. In Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka and TN, the contact rate is around 0.5, while in Punjab it is 0.3. two months Two CRPF men killed, two others hurt as militants open fire on road opening party in Srinagar Page 8 s Assam Polls H K h o g en S i n g h @ Dibrugarh/Nagaon (Assam) then an alliance partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party . Ali-ur-Zaman in Kaziranga is similarly circumspect. Originally from Bongaigaon district in eastern Assam, he and his wife have been running a dhaba for four years on the national highway that cuts through the rhino sanctuary. “I will see, I can’t say anything about voting right now,” he answered in oneliners, suspicious of every question and refusing to even make eye contact. His wife hemmed and hawed in greater measure: “We are confused.” About 350 kms away inside a weather-beaten, tin-roofed tea stall in Bagbari village, Dhubri district, Noor Islam is watching a video on his mobile of the arrest of civil rights activistturned-candidate Akhil Gogoi. Unlike Akbar and Zaman, Islam is not fearful of discussing the elections with a stranger. He declares his support for the The Supreme Court on Thursday directed governments of Punjab, Haryana and the Bhakhra-Beas Management Board (BBMB) to maintain status quo on the supply of Yamuna water to Delhi till Friday when it will , hear a plea by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) against curtailment of supply . The apex court order came on the DJB’s petition which stated that 25 per cent of the drinking water supply to Delhi would be reduced due to repair works at the canal gates of the Beas Hydel Channel. The bench headed by CJI S A Bobde issued notices to the governments of Punjab, Haryana and BBMB on the DJB’s plea and sought their replies on Friday . The DJB sought directions to the Haryana government to cease the discharge of untreated pollutants into the Yamuna and release sufficient water. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the DJB, contended that curtailment of water supply will badly affect the people. He further said the water level has already fallen in the capital and the canal repair works should not be done in March-April, when the water demand is at its peak. “We have two crore urban population. We have Lutyens’ Delhi, we have aam aadmis. This will cut down 25 per cent water supply he said. ,” Advocate Gautam Narayan, also appearing for the Board, told the court that the repairs could be carried out during monsoon. Haryana government counsel Shyam Divan said “the water level is being maintained”. Senior advocate Vikas Singh, who also appeared in the matter, said a court commissioner should be appointed to verify the water level. Divan The evaluation criteria set by the Army for granting permanent commission (PC) were created by ‘males for males’ and thus discriminatory toward women officers, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday and directed the Centre to grant permanent commission to women SSC officers in the Army who were excluded on grounds of fitness standards. The apex court said the administrative requirement imposed by the Army authorities while considering the case o f wo m e n S h o r t Service Commission (SSC) officers for PC, of benchmarking them with the officers lowest in merit in the corresponding male batch, is “arbitrary and irrational”, constituted systemic discrimination against the petitioners which has caused an economic and psychological harm and an affront to their dignity the court said. , “A superficial sense of equality is not in the true spirit of the Constitution and attempts to make equality only symbolic,” said the 137-page judgment authored by Justice D Y Chandrachud. It quoted Justice R B Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court, “I ask no favour for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” The verdict came on a batch of pleas stating that the Army had not granted PC to even 50 per cent of women officers despite a February 2020 Supreme Court judgment mandating the same. Thursday’s ruling will impact those women officers who were denied PC in November 2020 based on non-compliance with Shape 1 Fitness standards. “Army says medical category has been applied by taking age-related factors into account. However, discrimination and exclusion is there in this application when similarly aged male PC officers do not have to maintain SHAPE 1 fitness now, when granted PC earlier,” Justice Chandrachud said in the judgment. An Egyptian tug boat equipped with a rope trying to free Taiwan-owned cargo vessel MV Ever Given (Evergreen), lodged sideways and impeding all traffic across the waterways of the Suez Canal, on Thursday | AFP | P12 Raijor Dal, Gogoi’s new political party and spews venom on , the BJP and its local candidate, Ashok Kumar Singhi. The tea shop owner, Usman Moni, in between blowing out betel nut from his paan-stained mouth and teeth every 15 minutes, is also vocal about the polls, the BJP and Singhi, describing the saffron party’s nominee as “Hitlerian”. It’s not difficult to understand why the Muslims of Kokrajhar and Kaziranga were suspicious while those in Dhubri were open, expansive and even polemical. Continued on P7 DJB fears crisis, SC to hear plea on Yamuna water supply today E x p ress N e ws S er v i c e @ New Delhi K a n u S a r d a @ New Delhi troubled waters Fear, loathing and a new minority politics itting inside his dirtcoated, poorly-stocked provision store next to a rural road at Joypur village in Assam’s Kokrajhar district, Akbar Ahmed is reticent about the ongoing state elections. “I am so busy in my shop that I have had no time to think of it. Let voting day come then I will apply my mind,” he said as cacophonic traffic blowing gas horns raced past, kicking up plumes of cough-inducing dust. A little later he dropped guard a tad, saying in the 2016 Assembly elections he had voted for the Bodoland People’s Front, women officers discriminatory: SC said no application had been filed for the appointment of court commissioner. The bench, however, said, “This is about the fundamental right to water. We will not go into technical issue... If the need arises, we can appoint.” Earlier, DJB vice-chairperson Raghav Chadha had said Delhi could be staring at an unprecedented water crisis with the channel being closed for a month (March 25-April 24) for repairs and maintenance. bigger, better & virtual ThinkEdu E x p ress N e ws S er v i c e @ Chennai It was this time last year that our world changed forever. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a nationwide lockdown and we were all confined to our homes, grappling with a new reality But amid such uncer. tainties, there’s one thing you could always rely on to happen like clockwork — the TNIE’s ThinkEdu Conclave. Over the past eight years, The New Indian Express has brought you a niche, curated and thoughtprovoking event in Chennai with some of the biggest names in the Indian education space and beyond in the form of the ThinkEdu Conclave. This year, with the pandemic refusing to recede, we’ve taken ThinkEdu virtual. We will bring 35 speakers streaming directly to your homes with some of the most vital and stimulating conversations around education, jobs, life after a pandemic, the new Na- tional Education Policy and so much more that centres around this year’s theme Lessons for a new world. This year, we have Union ministers Ramesh Pokhriyal and Nitin Gadkari, Infosys Co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, Education Secretary Amit Khare, intellectuals like Makarand Paranjape, AICTE Chair man Anil Sahasrabudhe, CSIR’s DG Dr Shekhar C Mande, among others talking about how the country can be truly Atmanirbhar. We also have authors like Amish, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Anuja Chauhan discussing their books and offering lessons for our young. ThinkEdu kicks off on March 26 at 7 pm. And this year, instead of two days, we have extended the event to five days — till March 30. You can catch the sessions live at newindianexpress.com, edexlive.com, eventxpress.com and our social media channels — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
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