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SC issues contempt notice to Prashant Bhushan on Attorney General Venugopal’s plea

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Supreme Court today (Wednesday, February 6), issued a notice to senior advocate Prashant Bhushan on a contempt of court petition filed by Attorney General KK Venugopal and the Centre for his tweets that allegedly criticised the court over the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as interim CBI director.

Bhushan, who accepted the notice in person, was directed to file his reply within three weeks.

The Centre moved the apex court yesterday, days after Venugopal’s contempt petition against Bhushan, seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Bhushan for his tweets and said they amounted to making false statement in a pending case. The Centre’s plea also referred to the contents of Venugopal’s petition and submitted that they be also read as part of its plea.

Bhushan, in a series of tweets, said that the Attorney General had misled the apex court last week on the process followed in the controversial appointment of Nageswara Rao as the interim CBI director.

During a hearing on a plea filed by NGO Common Cause, Venugopal had told the Supreme Court bench led by Justice Arun Mishra that the selection committee mandated to pick the CBI director had cleared Rao’s appointment as interim head of the agency, first when CBI director Alok Verma was divested of his responsibilities on October 23 and then again when he was summarily dismissed by the panel on January 10.

Bhushan had claimed that Venugopal had misled the court, saying that he had spoken to Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and learnt that the selection committee had not discussed the appointment of Rao as interim CBI director.

Kharge is a member of the selection committee that also comprises Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi.

Venugopal said Bhushan, in one of his tweets on February 1, had said, “I have just confirmed personally from the leader of opposition Mr. Kharge that no discussion or decision in HPC meet was taken re-appointment of Nageswara Rao as interim Director of CBI. The govt appears to have misled the court and perhaps submitted fabricated minutes of the HPC meeting.”

The attorney general said the statement/confirmation attributed to Kharge could never have been made by him for the simple reason that he himself had signed the minutes of the meeting which also contained the final decisions of the high-powered committee.

Rao’s stint as interim CBI director ended on February 2 after the selection committee, by a 2:1 majority decision, appointed former Madhya Pradesh Director General of Police, Rishi Kumar Shukla as the new full-time director of the agency. With Shukla having taken over charge of the investigation agency, the petition challenging Rao’s appointment has become inconsequential.

On Wednesday, as the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Naveen Sinha resumed hearing arguments in the petition challenging Rao’s appointment, the issue of whether Bhushan can be held in contempt for his tweets took precedence.

Curiously, Venugopal insisted that he did not favour the court giving out any punishment to Bhushan on account of possible contempt and that he would, instead, prefer “authoritative words” from the court on the issues red flagged by him. However, Venugopal’s immediate junior in the government’s team of law officers, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, implored the bench to penalise Bhushan.

Venugopal informed the bench that the selection committee had discussed the issue of Rao’s appointment as interim CBI director and that even Kharge had signed on the panel’s decision. Justice Mishra wondered how Bhushan posted the tweets about a matter that was sub judice. The Attorney General then contended that Bhushan’s action could be seen as “contempt by speech” since the comments “lower the authority of the court” and “intervene with the working of the court”.

As Justice Mishra lamented the “unwelcome practice” of lawyers routinely making statements on pending matters, the Attorney General pointed out that even as the case was proceeding, “12 cameramen are waiting for lawyers outside” to get their comments. Venugopal then urged the petitioner (Bhushan) to desist from discussing sub judice matters in public and added that while it is presumed that comments made in public and in the media do not affect the opinion of a judge, this may not always happen.

Justice Mishra said that the Bar should not display a sycophancy towards the Bench and added that lawyers like the Attorney General and senior advocate Fali Nariman had made the Bar “worthy and admirable”. Justice Mishra then proceeded to say that the extant case (the contempt petition) involves larger issues and that the bench would want to “settle the law” on them. Justice Sinha concurred with Justice Mishra and added that “time has come to realise that with freedom comes responsibility”.

Venugopal then insisted that while does want the law on contempt settled in the present case, he is not pressing for any punishment to be meted out for anyone.

Solicitor General Mehta, disagreeing with the Attorney General, told the bench: “I can cite 10 instances where a judgment is passed by the highest court and some lawyers say it is a black day for the judiciary.”

Mehta, on behalf of the Centre, proceeded to say that the bench should award a “deterrent punishment” to Bhushan as “the respondent has been involved in several such instances.” He added that the “Lordships’ magnanimity should not be taken as a form of weakness” and urged the bench to issue a notice to Bhushan.

Responding to the Solicitor General’s request, Justice Mishra said: “Punishment shouldn’t come for lawyers usually. Contempt is like a brahmashtra. It should be used sparingly so that it doesn’t lose its value. We are mindful of how reckless comments deprive dignity of others without a due process of law… the larger issue here is that media trial decides the reputation of a person who, ultimately, may win in court but has been widely criticized in public (sic). There is no repairing mechanism for that reputation”.

The bench then issued a notice to Bhushan, which he accepted in open court. While Bhushan has to reply to the contempt notice within three weeks, the contempt plea has been posted for its next hearing on March 7.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

India News

DGCA fines Go First Rs 10 lakh for leaving behind 55 passengers at Bengaluru airport

The incident took place on January 9 at 5:45 am when the passengers were about to board Go First flight G8-116 from Bengaluru to New Delhi.

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GoFirst flight

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Friday fined Go First Rs 10 lakh for leaving behind 55 passengers at the Bengaluru airport earlier this month and violating the rules.

The incident took place on January 9 at 5:45 am when the passengers were about to board Go First flight G8-116 from Bengaluru to New Delhi. Reports said a total of airbuses were sent to pick up the passengers for the aircraft. While the first two buses went ahead, the other two were left behind.

Following the incident, the DGCA issued a show cause notice to the responsible manager of the airlines and directed them to take enforcement actions against Go First for the dereliction of their regulatory obligations.

Replying to the DGCA, the airline released a statement saying the airline had launched an inquiry into the matter assuring it is being investigated. The airlines also offered a free ticket for travel on any domestic route to all the affected passengers.

A senior DCGA official reacted to the reply and said the airline failed to provide adequate ground arrangement handling, flight dispatch and passenger and cargo handling, and preparation of load and trim sheet.

DGCA further enforced action and penalised Rs 10 lakh for violation of CAR Sections 3, Series C, Part II of the Air Transport Circular 02 of 2019, reports said.

Sharing her inconvenience through a tweet, an affected passenger called it her most horrifying experience with Go First airlines. She shared her ordeals on Twitter and called the incident the heights of negligence.

Watch the video of the incident here:

Earlier a similar incident took place wherein Singapore-bound Scoot Airlines left behind more than 30 passengers at the Amritsar Airport. The DGCA sought a report of the incident and also slammed the airlines.

In a reply to DGCA, the airlines informed that the passengers were updated about the rescheduling of the flight, however, their travel agents failed to convey them. The airlines also offered free tickets to all the affected passengers.

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India News

Who is Suhani Shah? Everything you need to know about the internet sensation

Shah entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s youngest magician at the age of seven.

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Suhani Shah

If you are an avid social media user, you might have come across the name, Suhani Shah. The 32-year-old is hogging headlines for her ability to read people’s minds. Prime Time news channels couldn’t stop covering her and tagging her as a Jadu Pari or a magician.

Shah came into the limelight amid the Bageshwar Dham row. The mentalist ripped off the 26-year-old Dham Trust chief Dhirendra Shastri’s false claims about magic and divine power.

Who is Suhani Shah?

Shah is not just a mentalist but also a social media sensation. She has a verified Instagram account with 1.2 million followers and her bio reads ‘Mentalist.’

Apart from being the cover story of magazines like Be Attractive, L’utopia, Fashion Herald, and others, she has collaborated with several Bollywood stars like Kareen Kapoor Khan, Rajkummar Rao, Boman Irani, and others.

Shah entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s youngest magician at the age of seven. An illusionist, a clinical hypnotherapist, an author, a corporate trainer, and a mentalist, she has been honoured with several awards and the title Jadoo Pari by the All India Magic Association.

Shah also owns a YouTube channel where she keeps uploading videos on mentalism, magic, vlogs, and others. Other than her social media appearance, she also runs a web shoe That’s My Job wherein she invites guests. Public figures like Zakir Khan, Triggered Insaan, Munawar Faruqui, Tanmay Bhat, Samay Raina, Nischay Malhan, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, and several others have been a part of her web show.

Born in Rajasthan’s Udaipur, Shah discontinued school in Class 2 to pursue her passion for magic. As she started her career at the age of seven and toured across the world, she was home-schooled.

In 1997, she performed on the stage for the first time at Thakorbhai Desai Hall in Ahmedabad and up until now has done over 5,000 shows in and across India.

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Madhya Pradesh: Four men creep into coal mine to rob scrap iron, die of asphyxiation

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Four men, who crept into a coal mine to allegedly steal scrap iron from the place, died of asphyxiation inside in Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh, reports said.

According to reports, the now-deceased men broke into a closed coal mine in Kalri under Dhanpuri police station to rob scrap iron by stripping junked machines, while one of their partners stood outside to stand guard.

However, the man standing guard became anxious when his gang members didn’t return for a long time and there was silence from inside. The man fled the spot and fearing the worst, returned back and informed his friends and family of the incident.

Reports said police got wind of the incident, and sent a rescue team inside the mine who managed to pull out the bodies of the four thieves.

Police said that four men were already when the rescue team found them inside the mine.

The deceased have been identified as Raj Mahto, Hazari Koul, Rahul Koul and Kapil Vishwakarma, police said, adding that they suspect the men died due leakage of methane gas inside the coal mine.

The mine had been shut since 2018 and the four men had reportedly dug a tunnel to get inside the coal mine.

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