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Lawyer says top corporate behind conspiracy by two sacked SC employees to frame CJI, SC says will get to bottom of case

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Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi

The Supreme Court today (Wednesday, April 24) asked advocate Utsav Bains to file additional affidavit to back his allegation that three former employees of  the apex court conspired to frame the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in the sexual harassment case and make him resign.

The bench of Justices Arun Mishra, RF Nariman and Deepak Gupta asked the lawyer to file the affidavit by 10.30 am tomorrow when the court is scheduled to take up the matter again.

The court witnessed heated moments when Attorney General KK Venugopal had lengthy wordy duels with Bains.  At one point, Bains accused the AG  of targeting him and doubting his integrity.

At this point, an irked Justice Nariman said, “You have no right to doubt him. He’s the most respectable member of the bar. We all look up to him. If you say doubt, we will throw you out.”

At this, Bains said that he was “walking out of the court on his own”. There were other moments too, particularly when Senior Advocate Indira Jaising said “we the women lawyers are very concerned for the independence of judiciary and the integrity of the court.”

“I have a stake in this, a personal stake,” she said adding, “My only request is to set up an impartial and free inquiry. She said that she is not representing anyone and was is in the court in her own capacity. “Other women of the bar come to me and say we don’t feel safe anymore.”

At this point, Justice Nariman said, “This is not the purpose for which we are here.” He reminded her that the bench has been constituted only to hear Bains’ affidavit and nothing more. “Justice Mishra says this is a very serious issue, and we want to go to the root of the cause and we will inquire and inquire until it reaches a logical conclusion.”

Earlier, advocate Bains who claimed he was offered money to frame the CJI in a sexual harassment case, said the “mastermind behind the conspiracy is one of the biggest corporates in the country.”

Bains went on to file a second affidavit in the hearing. He said he had more crucial evidence and wanted to file another affidavit.

Justice Mishra told him to give a handwritten affidavit and not a typed one so that there is not even the remote possibility of the information being leaked by the typist. “We do not want evidence to be destroyed,” he said.

Bains submitted documentary evidence to the court in a sealed cover, claiming that the CCTV footage would reveal many things. “I have a CCTV footage, which is real evidence. I am submitting this in the court. The accused, the mastermind is very powerful,” said Bains.

Justice Mishra, speaking for the Bench after reading Bains’ fresh affidavit, said if the contents of the affidavits were true, “then this is really very disturbing”.

The court however made it clear that this will not affect the inquiry already set up by the court into charges levelled against CJI Gogoi by a former woman staffer.

“It’s a very serious issue about the independence of system…if it can be controlled from other corners,” said Justice Mishra.

Bains, in his affidavit submitted to the court, had said he “was informed by reliable sources that certain ‘fixers’, who claim to be engaged in illegally managing Judgments in exchange for cash are behind this plot as the Hon’ble CJI has taken decisive action to crack down on such fixers”.

Apparently touching upon this, the bench said it’s “very disturbing” to see the names of two employees who were dismissed from the court figure in connection with the controversy.

Justice Mishra referred to the recent dismissal of court staffers Manav Sharma and Tapan Chakravarthy for doctoring a court order in a contempt case between Anil Ambani and Ericsson in this context.

Referring to their dismissal, Justice Mishra elaborated “this action has been taken by CJI for first time in country. It has been happening before. But no CJI had the courage to it before…If there is collusion of employees, it’s very serious. If he (CJI) is taking action without looking at anyone, it shows his independence”.

The Bench then summoned the CBI, IB and Delhi Police chiefs for an in-chamber meeting to look into the material furnished by Bains.

Explaining why the three top officials have been called, Justice Mishra said “this is not just an inquiry, this is something more… We will not reveal anything. This will be kept totally a secret.”

The Bench ordered the Delhi Police to provide lawyer Utsav Singh Bains “full protection” so that no one approaches him to either influence or threaten him and the evidence he has with him of the conspiracy afoot is kept safe.

The three judges then met the three officers in their chambers at 12.30 pm on Wednesday and subsequently, the court met again at 3 PM.

Before adjourning, the bench made it clear that the in-house probe on allegations of sexual harassment would go on and another independent probe was needed on larger conspiracy on allegation to malign CJI.

At the fag end of the hearing, Bains told the court that he has some more very important and very critical piece of evidence related to the mater and he be allowed to file an additional affidavit. The bench allowed the request of Bains and said, “It should be handwritten and not typed.”

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PM Modi inaugurates 3 major space infrastructure projects, announces names of astronauts for Gaganyaan mission

The four pilots have been training at the astronaut training facility in Bengaluru.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today revealed the names of four pilots preparing for the country’s historic Gaganyaan human space travel program. Group Captain P Balakrishnan Nair, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, Group Captain Angad Pratap, and Wing Commander S Shukla, are the four pilots who are selected for this mission.

The PM also bestowed astronaut wings to the four astronaut-designates.

PM Modi addressed the people there and said, he is happy that today he got the opportunity to meet these astronauts and present them in front of the country. He also congratulated the astronauts on behalf of the entire country. PM Modi also hailed the astronaut as the pride of the country.

Meanwhile, the PM inaugurated three major infrastructure projects of ISRO valued at 1800 crore during his visit to Vikram Sarabhai Space Center in Kerala on Tuesday. PM Narendra Modi is on a two-day visit to the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu starting Tuesday, February 27.

The projects include the PSLV Integration Facility at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, the new Semi-cryogenics Integrated Engine and stage Test facility at ISRO Propulsion Complex at Mahendragiri, and Trisonic Wind Tunnel at VSSC, Thiruvananthapuram.

Before the inauguration ceremonyISRO chairman S Somanath extended his respects to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a felicitation ceremony held at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram.

The ISRO chairman said, with the support of the honorable Prime Minister, the space sector is undergoing rapid transformation for expansion. He added that the long-term space vision for Amrit Kal had already been announced by the Prime minister. He further added that the vision had been created for Amrit Kal with the space sector as the torch bearer.

After the inauguration ceremony, the Prime Minister is scheduled to address public gatherings in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, and Tiruppur, Tamil Nadu. Additionally, he will participate in the program called Creating the Future – Digital Mobility for Automotive MSME Entrepreneurs in Madurai.

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Rahul Gandhi reacts to Hijab controversy, says what a person wears is their responsibility and nobody should decide what they wear

Rahul Gandhi said what a woman wears is her responsibility and it is her decision. He thought nobody should decide what they wear. His comments came after the Congress government in Karnataka allowed students to wear Hijab during competitive exams in October last year.

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Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said that women’s choice of clothing including a hijab should be respected and one should not dictate what a person has to wear. Rahul Gandhi was interacting with female students at the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh during his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra.

During the interaction a girl mentioned the hijab controversy in Karnataka and asked the Congress leader about his views on the same. He said what a woman wears is her responsibility and it is her decision. He thought nobody should decide what they wear. His comments came after the Congress government in Karnataka allowed students to wear Hijab during competitive exams in October last year.

The issue erupted in Januray 2022 when Muslim students at a government pre-university college in Karnataka’s Udupi were denied entry for wearing hijabs, citing a violation of the college’s uniform policy. The incident has sparked widespread protests and counter-protests across the state.

The then BJP government issued an order that made mandatory for students to wear uniforms in educational institutes. The order banned the wearing of hijabs in these settings. This decision was challenged in court, and on March 15, 2022 the decision was upheld by the Haryana High Court.

The court said wearing a hiujab is not an essential religious practice in Islam and as result it does not fall under the protection of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the fundamental right to freely practice one’s religion.

In October 2022, The Supreme Court pronounced a split verdict on the petitions challenging The Karnataka High Court order which refused to overturn a ban on hijabs in educational institutions in the state. The Top court’s split verdict means the issue will be revisited by a larger bench for final decision.In December last year, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced that his government will withdraw the order banning hijab in schools and colleges in the state .   

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Rajya Sabha election: Samajwadi Party leader Manoj Kumar Pandey steps down as Chief Whip, voting underway

Samajwadi Party MLA Manoj Kumar Pandey on Tuesday resigned from the post of party chief whip amid the voting for 10 Rajya Sabha seats.

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In the midst of voting for the Rajya Sabha elections, Samajwadi Party leader and MLA Manoj Kumar Pandey resigned from his position as the party’s chief whip in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly on Tuesday.

His resignation from the position was announced barely one day after eight Samajwadi Party MLAs failed to show up for a meeting that the party Chief Akhilesh Yadav had called.

Eight BJP candidates and three Samajwadi Party candidates have applied for the 10 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh as the voting has begun.

The main opposition SP and the ruling BJP both have enough members to send seven and three members to the Rajya Sabha, respectively, without opposition. However, since the BJP is fielding an eighth candidate, a competitive race is expected in one of the seats.

The results will be announced by the end of the day.

The BJP has put up seven other candidates which includes, former Union minister RPN Singh, former MP Chaudhary Tejveer Singh, general secretary of the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit Amarpal Maurya, former state minister Sangeeta Balwant (Bind); former MLA Sadhna Singh, and former Agra mayor Naveen Jain.

Actor-turned-MP Jaya Bachchan, former IAS officer Alok Ranjan, and Dalit activist Ramji Lal Suman are the candidates officially nominated by the Samajwadi Party.

In Uttar Pradesh, a candidate needs around 37 first-preference votes to be elected to the Rajya Sabha.

Voting will end at 4 p.m., and counting will start at 5 p.m.

With 252 and 108 members, respectively, the BJP and the SP have the majority of seats in the 403-member state assembly. The SP’s alliance partner, the Congress, holds two seats.

Thirteen seats are held by the BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal), six by the NISHAD Party, nine by the RLD, six by the SBSP, two by Jansatta Dal Loktantrik, and one by the BSP. There are presently four open seats.

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