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Delhi HC seeks Police response on Mohammed Zubair’s plea against laptop seizure

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought the response of the Delhi Police on a plea moved by Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair challenging a lower court order allowing his police custody and seizure and examination of his laptop in connection with a 2018 contentious tweet case.

Zubair was seeking restoration of the device/laptop or document seized by the police, being beyond the allegation in the FIR.

Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav allowed four weeks’ time for the Police to respond to the plea. The court also granted liberty to the fact-checker for filing rejoinder and additional documents in response.

On July 1, while dealing with the plea, a vacation bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula directed the police to file a counter-affidavit within two weeks.

In the last hearing, Zubair’s counsel Vrinda Grover argued that her client was arrested in breach of the Arnesh Kumar guidelines issued by the Supreme Court and that it was an attempt to breach his journalistic freedom as the police seized his mobile phone and laptop.

The Supreme Court had last week granted bail to Zubair in all the six FIRs registered by the Uttar Pradesh Police in different districts over his tweets and clubbed these FIRs with the Delhi FIR.

The top court disposed of Zubair’s plea by granting him bail in all the UP Police cases and also gave him liberty to move the Delhi High Court seeking the quashing of the cases. The top court clarified that its directions will apply to future cases, registered on the basis of tweets that were part of the previous FIRs.

Last month, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Patiala House Courts, Snigdha Sarvaria had allowed custody of Zubair to Delhi Police in connection with one of his tweets on the micro-blogging platform Twitter in 2018 in which he allegedly hurt the religious sentiments of a community.

In a follow-up of the case, the Special Cell of Delhi Police flew Zubair to Bengaluru to recover his laptop which he used for uploading various contents on social media sites.

Zubair was charged under the Indian Penal Code’s Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) for one of his objectionable tweets.

“Transmission and publication of such posts have been deliberately done by Mohammed Zubair through electronic media to insult the religious feelings of a particular community with the intent to provoke breach of peace,” read the FIR.

As per the FIR, accused Zubair had used a screengrab of an old Hindi movie which showed an image of a hotel, with its board reading ‘Hanuman hotel’ instead of ‘Honeymoon hotel’. In his tweet, Zubair had written, “BEFORE 2014: Honeymoon Hotel. After 2014: Hanuman Hotel”.

National News

Delhi HC allows impleading city govt, CBSE, NCERT in plea seeking common syllabus, curriculum across India

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The Delhi High Court has allowed the petitioner to implead the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the Delhi government as parties to his plea challenging the syllabus and curriculum varying for each strata of society and seeking common syllabus for children across the country.

A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Yashwant Varma allowed petitioner advocate Ashwini Upadhyay to move an application to implead the above-mentioned three parties.

The court listed the matter for the next hearing on March 10.

Upadhyay argued before the court that all competitive examinations be it engineering, law and the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) should have a common syllabus.

He said: “But we have multiple syllabus at school level, how will it provide an equal opportunity for students? In Kendra Vidyalayas across the country, we have a common syllabus. Every developed country has a common syllabus in schools. It is unfortunate we are under pressure from the coaching mafia.”

He contended that as per the concerned Articles of the Constitution, students do not get equal opportunities.

Upadhyay’s plea read: “Education mafias are very powerful and have a very strong syndicate. They influence rules, regulations, policies and examinations. The bitter truth is that school mafias do not want one nation-one education board, coaching mafias do not want one nation-one syllabus, and book mafias do not want NCERT books in all schools. That is why the uniform education system up to the 12th standard has not been implemented yet.”

Provisions under the Right To Education Act which excludes madrasas, Vedic pathshalas and educational institutions imparting religious knowledge, were also challenged as per the plea.

“It is necessary to state that the purposive and harmonious construction of Articles 14, 15, 16, 21, 21A with Articles 38, 39, 46 confirms that education is a basic right of every child and the State cannot discriminate against this most important right. Right of a child should not be restricted only to free education, but must be extended to have equal quality education without discrimination on the ground of the child’s social, economic and cultural background,” the plea read.

The plea further said: “Therefore, the court may declare Sections 1(4) and 1(5) arbitrary, irrational and violative of Articles 14, 15, 16 and 21 and direct the Centre to implement common syllabus and common curriculum for the students of I-VIII standard throughout the country.”

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Teachers scam: WhatsApp chat hinting question paper leak recovered

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 The Enforcement Directorate (ED), probing the multi-crore teachers’ recruitment scam, has recovered WhatsApp chats hinting at possible advance leaking of question papers to select candidates who took the written examination for primary teachers’ posts in West Bengal in 2016.

Sources said that the selective leaking of question papers were mainly done by the youth Trinamool Congress leader, Kuntal Ghosh, who was arrested by the ED from his residence on January 21.

The probe agency has also recovered Whatsapp chats indicating that Ghosh enjoyed the patronage of former state education minister and Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee.

From the documents seized from Ghosh’s residence, the central agency officials have also recovered copies of the admit cards of certain candidates who appeared for the recruitment examination for primary teachers in 2016.

The ED sleuths have come across the names of 35 individuals who secured jobs as teachers in state- run schools by paying money to the arrested youth leader and all of them are currently employed with different schools. Each and every one of them will be questioned to take the investigation forward.

“The recruitment scam seems to be in multiple layers, which again have sub-layers involving multiple players and multiple angles. The uncovering of one layer is leading to other layers. That’s why the investigation process is getting prolonged,” said a legal associate of ED.

The fact that question papers were leaked to select candidates was established after the ED sleuths noticed that some extremely below-average candidates, as per their academic records, scored exorbitantly in the recruitment examination.

Sources said that the marks secured in their academic examinations did not justify their scores in their optical mark recognition (OMR) sheets.

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National News

Goa Police intensify night patrolling for women’s safety

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 In a bid to curb street crimes and to increase safety for women, the Goa Police on Friday announced a special four-wheeler patrol ‘Operation Jagruti’ in the state’s north district.

North Goa Superintendent of Police Nidhin Valsan told media persons that night patrolling will be intensified under this initiative.

“This exercise includes 38 Jagrut North District vehicles having 100 staff deployed from North District and other various units. There are 10 vital routes identified along with additional 40 internal routes in North Goa District in which these vehicles will be patrolling daily from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.,” he said.

Valsan said that besides this, they will attend to all the other calls received from the control room.

“The main intention of this exercise is to assist and help any distressed woman and child during odd hours,” he said.

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